$44.5 Million Jury Verdict for Failure to Timely Report STAT Test Results

Bradley Metts, who was 9 years old at the time of this incident, was evaluated for severe ear pain by his primary care physician at University Medical Associates. Eight days after the evaluation, Bradley’s condition deteriorated; he developed headache, nausea, vomiting and photophobia. Bradley returned to the clinic where a nurse practitioner described him as being acutely ill.

The medical provider at the clinic ordered various STAT (immediate) blood tests, including an erythrocyte sedimentation rate test and a C-reactive protein test.

Although the lab samples were sent to Athens Medical Laboratory by the mid-afternoon, the results, which were markedly elevated, were not returned for six days.

Before Bradley’s treating physicians informed his mother of the test results, Bradley woke up in the middle of the night, screaming in pain. He was rushed to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where a CT scan revealed a dangerous brain abscess.

Bradley received antibiotics and underwent brain surgery, but he suffered post-operative intracranial pressure, which resulted in a brainstem herniation.

Bradley is now 14 years old and suffers from locked-in-syndrome and requires 24-hour per day nursing care.

The Metts family sued Athens Medical Laboratory, alleging its delay in reporting the STAT laboratory tests allowed an infection in Bradley’s mastoid bone to progress into the cerebral space.

Had Bradley’s treating medical providers timely learned of his high sedimentation rate, the Metts family argued, he would have been sent to a hospital and received timely and less invasive treatment.

The Metts family also alleged that University Medical Associates was liable for choosing not to conduct a proper examination of Bradley’s ear and follow up on the STAT lab tests when they were not reported back in two hours. The lawsuit against the hospital alleged its negligent post-operative monitoring and response to Bradley’s intracranial pressure led to the brainstem herniation.

The Metts family settled with the University Medical Associates and the hospital for undisclosed sums. In the meantime, the jury signed a verdict for more than $44.5 million, finding Athens Medical Laboratory 50% at fault.

The trial court denied the defense motion for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The court also held that the state of Ohio damages cap did not apply to the award against Athens Laboratory because it was not a medical claim as defined by that statute.

The attorneys representing the Metts family in this tragic case were Gerald Leeseberg, John Markus and Craig Tuttle.

Metts v. Athens Medical Laboratory, No. 14-CV-002543 (Ohio Ct. Con. Pl. Franklin County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling traumatic brain injury lawsuits, medical malpractice cases, radiology errors, laboratory errors, hospital negligence lawsuits and nursing negligence cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including North Riverside, Oak Lawn, Blue Island, South Holland, Harvey, Oak Forest, Markham, Matteson, Country Club Hills, Hazel Crest, Flossmoor, Calumet Park, Alsip, Palos Heights, Hickory Hills, Cary, Crystal Lake, Gurnee, Round Lake Beach, Des Plaines, Morton Grove, Wilmette, Winnetka, Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Bluff, Libertyville, Mundelein, North Chicago, Vernon Hills and Hawthorne Woods, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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