Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Girl's Parents Sue over Meningitis Death; Lawsuit Names Hospitals and Emergency Room Physician

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Johns Girl's Parents Sue over Meningitis Death; Lawsuit Names Hospitals and Emergency Room Physician

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Volin, Times-Union staff writer

FRUIT COVE -- The parents of a St. Johns County girl who died from complications of bacterial meningitis in 2001 filed a wrongful death lawsuit yesterday against the hospitals and physicians responsible for her medical care.

The lawsuit names St. Luke's Hospital, the Mayo Clinic of Jacksonville and Michael G. Maxwell, the physician in charge of the emergency room the night 17-year-old Lauren Blomberg died. Alan Rosenberg, one of the Blombergs' attorneys, said the Mayo Clinic was named because it uses St. Luke's as a teaching hospital and one of the doctors was part of the resident/intern program there.

In March 2001, Blomberg's father took her to St. Luke's because she had been vomiting all day. Rosenberg said a doctor ordered an intravenous antibiotic shortly after the Bartram Trail High School junior was checked into the hospital, but it was not administered because emergency room employees assumed she had the flu. By the time the doctor checked up on her almost two hours later, she was already dead, according to the lawsuit.

"He [the doctor] is supposed to assume the worst and rule out the worst to get to the best," Rosenberg said. "But in this case . . . he assumed the best and went forward there. Never did they assume meningitis to rule it out. Those two hours were absolutely critical to the end result, which was unfortunately death."

Blomberg's parents said their daughter probably contracted the disease the night before at a St. Patrick's Day celebration, and died less than 24 hours later.

Erik Kaldor, a spokesman for St. Luke's Hospital and Mayo Clinic, said in a statement that Blomberg's death was tragic but not preventable.

"Lauren was appropriately evaluated and treated," he said. "However, by the time Lauren got to the hospital, her condition was too advanced and she could not be saved."

Maxwell could not be reached for comment.

The family's attorneys would not specify how much the lawsuit is seeking. …

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