$2 Million Recovery for a Delay in Treatment of Acute Hydrocephalus

Delayed Diagnosis

4 hours after an operation to remove a tumor from her brain in central New York, the 17-year old female patient complained of a severe headache, lethargy and confusion and began violently thrashing around in bed during while she was in the intensive care unit. A CT scan of the brain confirmed acute hydrocephalus (accumulation of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain).

The neurosurgeon was at home when he was notified of the changes in the patient’s condition. The neurosurgeon chose to stay home and a 4th-year neurosurgical resident provided care for the patient in the intensive care unit.

2 1/2 hours later, a second CT scan of the brain showed a worsening of the acute hydrocephalus and ventriculomegaly (enlargement of the cerebral ventricles). While returning to the intensive care unit from the radiology suite, the patient’s pupils became fixed and dilated, a sign of irreversible brain damage. When the neurosurgeon arrived at the hospital, surgery was performed to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain.

The victim’s parents alleged that the neurosurgeon should have come to the hospital to see the patient when he was notified of changes in her clinical presentation and the new findings of acute hydrocephalus. A catheter should have been placed to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid and relieve the intra-cranial pressure. As a result of the delay in treatment, the patient sustained permanent brain damage.

The partial settlement against the neurosurgeon will provide funds for a supplemental needs trust that will be used for the victim’s future medical needs. The plaintiffs will proceed to trial against the New York State-owned hospital in the Court of Claims.