Negligence At A U.S. Army Health Clinic In Germany Leading To Blindness, Deafness, And Spastic Quadriplegia In One Month Old

D.M. was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, stationed in West Germany, when his one-month-old twin daughter (D) developed a fever and became irritable. D's mother took her to the U.S. Army's Health Clinic in Bamberg, West Germany. D had a temperature of just over 100 degrees, was whining, and had not eaten for a day.

The baby was never seen by a doctor, but instead was given a cursory examination by a physicians' assistant (PA). D cried when her neck was touched, and when the PA attempted to examine her throat with a wooden tongue depressor, the baby resisted so much that the stick broke in two. The PA never examined D's neck for mobility, and no doctor ever saw the baby.

After a less than five-minute examination, D's mother was told the baby suffered from "thrush," a minor throat condition. Over the next day and a half, D's temperature rose to 102, and her mother took her back to the clinic where she was finally seen by a doctor. The physician diagnosed D as suffering from possible meningitis and, without starting her on antibiotics, told her mother to drive her to the U.S. Army Hospital at Nuremberg, more than an hour away.

When D arrived at the Army Hospital, a spinal tap showed cloudy fluid (a strong sign of spinal meningitis), however several hours passed before D was given her first dose of antibiotics. D began to have seizures in the hospital due to Group B Strep meningitis.

She became blind, deaf, and lost control of her arms and legs (spastic quadriplegia). She required feeding by a tube. Her future care costs were estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. As if D's injuries were bad enough, her twin sister (S) also became infected with the GBS organism and suffered a less severe case of spinal meningitis.

Because the negligent failure of the U.S. Army health care providers occurred in Germany, a lawsuit under the Federal Tort Claims Act was not possible. Therefore, administrative claims were filed (using the government SF-95 Form) with the U.S. Army Claims Service at Ft. Meade, Maryland, under the Military Claim Act for both D and S.

After exchanging information (including opinions from experts on the negligent conduct of the Army's clinic and hospital staffs and economists on the cost of caring for the twins), a multi-million dollar settlement was reached.

Note: The example above are some of the military medical malpractice cases we have handled in the past. Case outcomes and results depend upon many factors that are unique to each case. Past results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by Swartz & Reed. These examples merely provide a framework for understanding the kinds of cases we undertake.