Jury Finds for Hospital and Doctor in Child’s Undiagnosed Meningitis Hearing Loss Case

On June 22, 2006, Raymone Bowe, a 10-year-old boy, was brought by his mother to the emergency department at Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago with a sore throat, headache and a history of fever and vomiting. Raymone was seen in the ER by the defendant, Dr. Joseph Mejia, an occupational medicine/ophthalmology physician. 

Dr. Mejia diagnosed flu and headache and discharged Raymone with instructions to follow up if his symptoms continued or got worse. Two days later, at 12:19 a.m. on June 24, 2006, Raymone’s mother brought him to the emergency department at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. She reported that Raymone had  3 days of diarrhea, vomiting and fever. The complete blood count showed Raymone had an elevated white blood count, but he was still discharged with a diagnosis of a viral syndrome. Later that  day, Raymone was taken to Children’s Memorial Hospital, where he was diagnosed with Streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis. Raymone was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. 

Because of the delay in treating the meningitis, Raymone sustained complete and permanent hearing loss in both ears resulting in surgeries to insert bilateral cochlear implants. 

Raymone’s family maintained that Dr. Mejia was negligent in choosing not to diagnose bacterial meningitis, choosing not to order the correct tests based on Raymone’s history and presentation and failing to order antibiotics. 

Raymone’s family further claimed that Dr. Mejia was not qualified to treat children in the emergency room because he was not an emergency room physician. Dr. Mejia, it was claimed, should have consulted with an emergency medicine physician, a pediatrician or a pediatric infectious disease physician.It was also maintained that the hospital deviated from the standard of care and its own policies and procedures by allowing Dr. Mejia to see patients in the ER. In addition, the emergency room group that was also named as a defendant, breached its own policies and procedures in that it should not have allowed a non-board certified and non-ER physician to treat the minor patient, Raymone. 

The defendants asserted that Raymone was appropriately treated by Dr. Mejia, that the standard of care did not require a complete blood count, blood cultures, lumbar puncture or antibiotics, and it was appropriate for Raymone to be treated in the fast-track emergency department by Dr. Mejia. 

The defendants also argued that the child did not have meningitis when he presented to Norwegian American Hospital; therefore, nothing the defendants did or chose not to do caused or contributed to his hearing loss. The jury deliberated for 2 ½ days before finding in favor of all of the defendants. However, the parties entered into a high/low agreement of $450,000 as a low and $5 million as a high during deliberations. That means that because the verdict was in favor of all the defendants, that the agreed amount is $450,000. Stroger Hospital previously settled before trial for $625,000.

The attorneys for the Raymone Bowe family were Mark Mathys and Mark Schneid.The demand before trial was $2,800,000.  The attorneys for Raymone asked the jury to return a verdict of $14,560,553. The defendants offered $450,000 before trial.

Raymone Bowe, a minor v. Norwegian American Hospital, Emergency Care Physicians-HP, et al., No. 07 L 3307 (Cook County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence and birth injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Schaumburg, Summit, Lemont, Elmwood Park, Antioch, Niles, Chicago (Roscoe Village), Chicago (Lincoln Park), Chicago (Rogers Park), Morton Grove, Park Ridge, Calumet City, Blue Island and Flossmoor, Ill.

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