$150,000 Settlement Won at Mediation for Toddler Given Wrong Medication



Lisa G. Arrowood won a $150,000 settlement on behalf of the a toddler who was hospitalized after being given the incorrect medication by his primary care physician.  The settlement was reached at a mediation between the parties shortly after the medical malpractice lawsuit was filed.


The 2-year-old boy had been experiencing decreased appetite, stomach pain, a cough and congestion. His parents took him to his primary care physician, who diagnosed the boy with Giardia, the most frequently diagnosed intestinal parasitic disease in the U.S. The doctor prescribed Flagyl, a bactericide.  The pediatrician’s office called the prescription in to a local pharmacy. About 20 minutes after taking the first dose, the child began acting strange, “like he was drunk.” He became unsteady on his feet, grew dizzy, lost his balance and fell down several times. His parents noticed that his eyes appeared unfocused. They immediately called 911.  When the EMS arrived, the child was still conscious and able to look at the EMS and smile, but he quickly lost all muscle control and went limp. He was unresponsive in the ambulance; the EMT applied a bag mask to keep him ventilated.  An ER doctor was unable to determine what was wrong.  The child was intubated and transferred to another hospital with a pediatric intensive care unit.   After remaining in the pediatric ICU overnight, he started doing much better and was discharged the following day. The physicians concluded that he had had an allergic reaction to the Flagyl.


The father had spoken with a physician who questioned the allergy diagnosis and suggested that there might have been a medication error. The father had left the bottle of medicine at the hospital, so he called to get the bottle back and was told that it had already been sent to the lab for analysis. The lab found that the medicine was not Flagyl; in fact, it was Baclofen, a muscle relaxer and antispastic agent used to treat muscle spasms in patients with multiple sclerosis.  According to the lab report, the child ingested 4G mg of baclofen. The usual stalling dose of baclofen for adults is 5 mg.


The toddler recovered quickly and showed no long-term effects from the medication error. His parents’ recovery took somewhat longer. The mother was unable to produce enough milk for her infant daughter and had to supplement her breastfeeding for several weeks with formula. Both parents were unable to sleep through the night for several months. They regularly woke up in the middle of the night and could not go back to sleep until they walked down the hall to checked on their son. The mother found herself unable to leave him alone during the day, as she was regularly gripped with fear that he was in danger.


For more information, read the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Settlement Report.