Late one afternoon, the office manager of a rural medical practice brings her 15-year-old son to see her boss, a family practitioner (FP). The son has upper respiratory infection symptoms with fever, myalgia and a stiff neck. He is seen quickly by the FP and given a Zithromax pack from the sample closet. The next day, the son wakes up and is confused. The mother calls the FP, who speaks with her between appointments. He attributes the “confusion” to the patient’s fever and suggests more vigorous antipyretics and fluids. Twenty-four hours later, the patient becomes lethargic, febrile, and cannot be prompted to take oral fluids or food. The mother then takes her son to the local ER, where he is diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and admitted. He has a difficult hospital course and never recovers fully. A rift develops in the office between a group of staff members supportive of the mother and other staff who are supportive of the FP’s care. The mother quits, and one year later, she files a malpractice lawsuit against the FP for failure to timely diagnose meningitis.
Find out what happens in this case as well as some guidance on physicians treating employees and family members by clicking below.