Found 109 Results Sorted by Case Date
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California – Neurology – Three EEGs Ordered Without Indication And Diagnosis Of Epilepsy



A 9-year-old girl was referred by her pediatrician to a child neurologist for headaches.  The child neurologist first saw the patient on 9/10/2009. The patient’s mother stated that the patient’s headaches started in 7/20/2009.  The patient had no episodes of loss of consciousness of any type. The child neurologist’s review of systems revealed headaches, neck pain, and back pain.  The child neurologist noted headaches following a viral infection in July 2009 described as constant tension and pressure with nausea, photophobia, and difficulty concentration.  The child neurologist’s diagnosis was childhood migraine and prescribed 10 mg amitriptyline. The child neurologist ordered an MRI to rule out neoplasm and aneurysms. The child neurologist also ordered an EEG, which was not indicated for headaches.

On 9/18/2009, the EEG was performed.  The technician described the EEG with “sharp and slow waves.” On 9/30/2009, the child neurologist saw the patient for an office visit.  The child neurologist read the EEG as showing “generalized polyspike and wave which was synchronous bilaterally over both hemispheres which is highly suggestive of a generalized seizure disorder.”  The child neurologist stopped the amitriptyline 10 mg she prescribed at the last visit because of “seizures on EEG.” She ordered a neurosurgery consult and planned a separate meeting with the mother.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 11/4/2009.  The child neurologist prescribed Depakote at 250 b.i.d. The patient’s Depakote level was at 72.  The patient reported no seizures or auras, but the child neurologist in her diagnosis documented “seizures, breakthrough.”  The child neurologist ordered a second video EEG with computer analysis without medical indication. The EEG was performed on 11/25/2009.  The technician report showed no abnormality. The child neurologist’s report was of generalized polyspike and slow waves bilaterally, “highly suggestive of generalized epilepsy,” with localized slowing in the left temporal area.

On 2/11/2010, the child neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit.  The chief complaint was learning difficulty. The Depakote level was 53. The patient denied experiencing any auras and/or any seizures.  On the next visit, on 5/11/2010, the patient still did not report any auras or seizures. The child neurologist’s diagnoses were generalized epilepsy, childhood headaches, adverse effect of medication, and learning disability.  The child neurologist ordered a third video EEG with computer analysis to rule out seizures and BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) to rule out hearing loss, despite no medical indication. The video EEG was performed on 6/28/2010 and was normal.  On 7/12/2010, the child neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit. The patient denied having headaches and seizures. The child neurologist ordered a 72-hour ambulatory EEG despite the normal EEG.

The child neurologist next saw the patient on 1/19/2011 for a follow-up visit.  The patient’s mother complained that the patient’s math and history test results were still low.  The patient had no witnessed seizures and was tolerating Keppra well. Despite the negative findings, the child neurologist diagnosed “seizures, breakthrough, rule out.”  The child neurologist ordered another video EEG. At this point in time, the 72-hour video EEG she previous ordered on 7/12/2010 had not been performed.

On 2/18/2011, a 72-hour ambulatory EEG was performed.  The child neurologist’s last visit with the patient was on 3/14/2011.  On the last visit, the child neurologist noted that the 72-hour ambulatory EEG was normal.  She discontinued Keppra. She diagnosed the patient with “arachnoid cyst, middle cranial fossa; generalized epilepsy; learning disability; and adverse effect of medication given correctly.”

The Medical Board of California judged that the child neurologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she ordered 3 video EEGs and an ambulatory EEG without medical indication, ordered a BAER with no medical indication, misdiagnosed epilepsy on a patient with no medical history of seizures of any type, and made diagnoses of breaththrough seizures with no basis, contrary to her own findings that were no auras or seizures reported.

The Medical Board of California placed the child neurologist on probation and ordered the child neurologist to complete a medical record keeping course, a professionalism program (ethics course), an education course (at least 40 hours per year for each year of probation), and a clinical training program equivalent to the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education Program offered at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.  The child neurologist was assigned a practice monitor and was prohibited from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses.

State: California


Date: January 2018


Specialty: Neurology, Pediatrics


Symptom: Headache, Nausea Or Vomiting, Back Pain, Head/Neck Pain


Diagnosis: N/A


Medical Error: Unnecessary or excessive diagnostic tests, False positive


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 2


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Neurology – Neck Pain, Extremity Weakness, And Numbness Diagnosed As Multiple Sclerosis



A 56-year-old female was referred by her primary care physician to a neurologist.  The patient’s primary care physician noted neck pain and numbness of the upper extremities, left greater than right, present for 1 year.  Her medications were lisinopril 5 mg daily, Lyrica 50 mg 3 times daily, Flexeril 10 mg 3 times daily, Mobic 15 mg daily, and Nexium 40 mg daily.  Her primary care physician noted that she had lumbar laminectomy for disk herniation in the past for low back pain and tingling of the left leg. He also noted that the MRI of her cervical spine was abnormal and requested a neurological evaluation.  It revealed an abnormal signal intensity C2-3 affecting posterior columns with the radiologist’s comment of “could account for arm numbness and tingling.” The x-ray of her cervical spine performed on 11/5/2012 ordered by her primary care physician showed moderate degenerative changes.  The x-ray of her lumbar spine performed on 2/23/2012 showed similar findings.

The neurologist first saw the patient on 12/10/2012 for the abnormal cervical spine MRI.  The patient’s complaints were “neck pain; left neck and arm numb; right arm and right knee; losing urine; and generalized weakness on the left.”  The patient also complained that she “also feels ‘dead’ hips down, [d]izzy spells several times, no energy, difficult to concentrate.” The neurologist noted the “neuro exam essentially normal.”  The neurologist’s diagnoses were demyelinating disease; paresthesias of face and her extremities, vertigo, and memory loss. The neurologist ordered the following tests: EMG/NCV lower extremities, though later she also did upper extremities; MRI of the brain; neuromuscular junction tests with EMG; BAER with vestibular testing; VEP; EEG, overnight; and EEG awake and sleep with digital analysis 95957.

The upper extremity EMG/NCV study was performed on 1/3/2013.  She tested 4 motor nerves, 5 sensory nerves, and F waves. The neurologist tested every muscle, which was present in the upper extremities.  The results of the study were normal.

The electrodiagnostic study of the lower extremities were performed on 1/10/2013.  The neurologist tested 4 motor nerves, 6 sensory nerves, 2 H reflexes, bilateral F waves of the motor nerves.  She did a needle EMG of all muscles in the lower extremities and paraspinal muscles. The results of the study were normal.

There was a report of a video-monitored EEG utilizing a 32-channel digital EEG system manufactured by Cadwell.  This test was performed on 12/26/2012. The report stated that the technician performed hyperventilation, but the patient reported she did not, and that the patient was videotaped, though the patient reported she was not.  It was read as normal.

The ambulatory EEG was performed on 2/5/2013 to 2/6/2013.  In the report, it was termed a 2-day ambulatory EEG despite lasting only 1 day.  The neurologist prepared the report. The report contained a printout of 1 page. It was timed 6:21 a.m., and it contained widespread artifacts lasting 10 seconds.  This was the exact time that the patient reported she stood in front of her microwaves. The neurologist read this as “Isolated sharp waves were noted in the frontal left hemispheric area. The isolated sharp waves may be epileptogenic in nature.”  The visual and brainstem auditory evoked potentials were normal.

On 2/26/2013, the neurologist saw the patient for a follow-up visit.  The test results were available to the neurologist at the visit. The neurologist noted that the EEG for the patient was normal for both awake and drowsy.  The neurologist also noted that the 2-day EEG, which lasted only 1 day and the MRI of the brain showed a corpus callosum lesion. Her assessment and plan contained the same diagnoses as the first visit of 12/10/2012, and she failed to consider new information that should have changed her initial diagnoses.

The neurologist did not diagnose seizures in the assessment and plan, but she prescribed Depakote.  The neurologist discussed with the patient that she met criteria for relapsing and remitting Multiple Sclerosis with an acute exacerbation.  The neurologist also noted that the patient had pain with neck movement, which was sharp and went to the toes. She believed that the symptom was consistent with the finding of the ambulatory EEG and thus started the patient on Depakote 500 mg b.i.d.  The neurologist failed to recognize Lhermitte’s sign, consistent with the myelopathy. The neurologist ordered laboratory studies for Lyme disease, lupus, and lumbar puncture. She ordered monitoring labs for Depakote, CBC, and liver function tests to be done before the next visit.

The MRI of the brain the neurologist referred to in the 2/26/2013 follow-up visit was performed at the neurologist’s request on 12/28/2012.  The report indicated 20 FLAIR hyperintensities and a possible tiny corpus callosum lesion. The neurologist concluded it was consistent with multiple sclerosis.  The 12/28/2012 report contained a comparison to a previous MRI of the brain performed on 7/1/2007. The radiologist thought the new MRI showed abnormalities “probably very slightly more numerous” than the 2007 MRI.  He further considered the appearance to be nonspecific, and the tiny lesion in the corpus callosum was considered possible.

The 2007 MRI was requested by another physician.  It was read as showing “a few nonspecific scattered punctate of unlikely clinical significance.”  Multiple sclerosis was not raised as a possible cause. Referring diagnosis was “recent vertigo and left-sided dizziness.”  The neurologist failed to question the patient on symptoms that occurred in 2007.

On 3/12/2013, the patient was seen in the emergency room for nausea and vomiting.  She was diagnosed with Depakote toxicity with a level of 108. She was told to stop the medication.  She was scheduled for the lumbar puncture the following day and was told to keep that appointment. The day following the lumbar puncture, she developed symptoms consistent with a postspinal headache.  She was seen by the neurologist in her office on the same day and diagnosed with Depakote toxicity. At this point, the neurologist erroneously believed that the patient had “definite” multiple sclerosis.  She also erroneously believed that “the patient wrongfully assumed” Depakote caused her symptoms and believed that they were from the lumbar puncture.

The neurologist next saw the patient on 3/26/2013 for an office visit.  The neurologist noted that the patient had a postspinal headache. She noted that the spinal fluid was negative for oligoclonal bands, but incorrectly thought the IgG synthesis was abnormal.  She incorrectly diagnosed “primary stabbing headache” despite her earlier entry of postspinal headache.

In a subsequent interview with a Medical Board investigator, the neurologist was questioned as to why she did not take a history of previous symptoms, such as optic neuritis, that help to establish a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.  She was questioned if the examination was normal and why she did not check the “saddle” area for sensory loss, and she reported, “Why should I check the saddle area?” There were no “incontinence of stools.” When asked if she would have documented Lhermitte’s symptom or sign if present, she answered yes.  She obtained a history of symptoms consistent with Lhermitte’s, but did not recognize it as such. Memory loss was given as a diagnosis, but when asked how it was based, she could not recall. When asked to explain the reasons that each test was ordered, she responded that the EMG was based on symptoms, the neuromuscular test was based on the possibility of myasthenia gravis causing general weakness, the BAER and VEP as part of the multiple sclerosis work-up, and the EEG to rule out seizures as the cause of numbness and weakness.  She stated video monitoring on EEG was standard practice. Hearing loss was her reason for performing the BAER, but no hearing loss or visual disturbance was documented. She stated that the 2007 MRI showed infratentorial and supratentorial lesions whereas there was no mention of an infratentorial lesion in the radiology report. She ordered the EMG of the upper extremities to “rule out any other diseases” and stated “EMG is part of differential diagnosis,” and the indication she believed was numbness and tingling in the hands. When asked why she did 24 upper extremity and 6 cervical paraspinal muscles on EMG, she stated she wanted to make sure there was “no polyradiculopathy,” but she admitted there were no findings to suggest that diagnosis.  Further, she believed that numbness and tingling and incontinence would indicate polyradiculopathy. When questioned regarding indications for EMG of the lower extremities, she stated back problems, numbness right arm and right knee, and feeling the hips on down were “dead.” In the lower extremities, she tested 12 different muscles and 6 paraspinal muscles. She was then questioned about what were the indications for the EEG, and she believed they were generalized weakness, dizzy spells, no energy to work, and difficulty focusing. She was questioned as to why the first EEG was not sufficient. She stated that on 2/26/2013 visit, she had findings of generalized seizure disorder, but this was not the wording in the EEG report nor was it in her letter to the Board.  She was not aware that a microwave can cause artifacts. Regarding indication for Depakote, her answer was because of the EEG and numbness and tingling. She thought it would be trial and error to see if it would help. She thought that the patient’s symptom of “neck killing her” would be consistent with a multiple sclerosis plaque. When asked why she ordered Lyme disease and lupus blood tests, she stated that they were “on my mind.”

The Medical Board of California judged that the neurologist’s conduct departed from the standard of care because she failed to recognize symptoms and findings on the MRI of a partial transverse cervical myelopathy, ordered an EMG for the upper and lower extremities, video EEG, and ambulatory EEG without medical indication, conducted an excessive number of nerve tests for any diagnosis, misdiagnosed epilepsy, lacked knowledge in reading EEGs, and had no knowledge and/or did not consider the important interaction between Depakote and the patient’s other medications.  The neurologist also lacked knowledge in several fundamental areas.  She failed to recognize symptoms of a partial transverse cervical myelopathy and Lhermitte’s symptoms even though it was described to her by the patient.  She did not recognize or, if she did, did not reflect in her records that almost all of the patient’s symptoms were caused by the cervical myelopathy. The neurologist erroneously believed that a multiple sclerosis plaque could cause severe neck pain and that IgG synthesis could indicate active or inactive multiple sclerosis.  She diagnosed multiple sclerosis on the basis of the McDonald criteria, and she included the original report, but she gave no information in her records how those criteria fit the patient. She failed to question the patient for previous symptoms, which might establish an initial exacerbation of multiple sclerosis. The neurologist was aware that the patient had an MRI in 2007 and did not question the patient regarding her symptoms at that time.  She ordered laboratory studies for possible Lyme disease or “lupus” and a monophasic cervical myelopathy despite the fact that it was exceedingly unlikely to be caused by any of those disorders. She failed to consider alternative causes for the patient’s presentation, specifically B12 deficiency or adrenomyeloneuropathy.

For this case and others, the Medical Board of California placed the neurologist on probation and ordered the neurologist to complete a medical record keeping course, a professionalism program (ethics course), an education course (at least 40 hours per year for each year of probation), and a clinical training program equivalent to the Physician Assessment and Clinical Education Program offered at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.  The neurologist was assigned a practice monitor and was prohibited from supervising physician assistants and advanced practice nurses.

State: California


Date: January 2018


Specialty: Neurology


Symptom: Head/Neck Pain, Dizziness, Headache, Nausea Or Vomiting, Numbness, Urinary Problems, Weakness/Fatigue


Diagnosis: Spinal Injury Or Disorder, Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal


Medical Error: Diagnostic error, Failure to examine or evaluate patient properly, Unnecessary or excessive diagnostic tests, Improper medication management


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Critical Care Medicine – Intensivist Unavailable To Assess Patient With Metabolic Acidosis, Abdominal Pain, And Vomiting



On 10/19/2011 at 5:23 p.m., a 35-year-old male presented to the emergency department at a hospital with a chief complaint of abdominal pain and vomiting, which started approximately five hours before he presented to the hospital.

The patient was admitted to the hospital under the service of an intensivist and was notified of his arrival and condition at 5:35 p.m.

Between the hours of 5:50 p.m. and 7:22 p.m. the intensivist gave verbal orders of Dilaudid and ketorolac to the patient’s nurse.

At 9:20 p.m., the intensivist gave telephonic orders to the patient’s nurse, to place him on his home BIPAP mask.

On 10/20/2011, at 3:15 a.m. a rapid response was called due to an acute change in the patient’s respiratory status.

During the rapid response, an arterial blood gas (“ABG”) was drawn that revealed critical metabolic acidosis.

The intensivist never presented to the emergency room to assess the patient when he demonstrated medically dangerous/life-threatening signs at 3:15 a.m. or any time thereafter.

The intensivist never attended to the patient when his clinical situation was from an unknown cause and when a clear treatment plan had not been determined.

From 3:43 a.m. to 4:15 a.m., the critical care practitioner was contacted approximately five times with information on the patient’s medically unstable and deteriorating condition.

At 3:45 a.m., the patient became short of breath, restless, diaphoretic, and seizure episodes followed.  He was then transported to an intensive care unit.

At 5:25 a.m., a second rapid response was called due to a further decline in the patient’s health.  The rapid response turned into a code blue.

The patient underwent a cardiopulmonary arrest, and the code team was unable to resuscitate him.

On 10/20/2011, the patient expired at 6:25 am.

The autopsy results were consistent with acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis with diffuse pancreatic necrosis.

The Medical Board of Florida judged the intensivist’s conduct to be below the minimal standard of competence given that he failed to presented to the emergency room to assess the patient when the patient demonstrated medically dangerous/life-threatening signs on 10/20/2011 at 3:15 a.m.

The Medical Board of Florida issued a letter of concern against the critical care practitioner’s license.  The Medical Board of Florida ordered that he pay a fine of $7,500 against his license and pay reimbursement costs for the case at a minimum of $4,503.10 and not to exceed $6,503.10.  The Medical Board of Florida ordered that the critical care practitioner complete ten hours of continuing medical education in the area of critical care medicine and complete five hours of continuing medical education in “risk management.”

State: Florida


Date: December 2017


Specialty: Critical Care Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Pulmonology


Symptom: Abdominal Pain, Nausea Or Vomiting


Diagnosis: Gastrointestinal Disease


Medical Error: Failure to properly monitor patient


Significant Outcome: Death


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Obstetrics – Lack Of Maternal Serum Alpha-Fetoprotein Testing With Pregnancy Complications



On 2/24/2014, a 36-year-old female presented to an obstetrician for fatigue, breast tenderness, and absence of menstruation.  At the aforementioned visit, the obstetrician diagnosed the patient with amenorrhea and sent her to have blood work.

On 2/25/2014, the patient was notified of her positive pregnancy test.

On 3/10/2014, 3/17/2014, 3/24/2014. 4/24/2014, 8/7/2014, and 9/25/2015, the obstetrician ordered obstetrical ultrasounds and/or sonograms for the patient.

On 4/23/2014 and 8/20/2014, the patient presented to the obstetrician with thick vaginal fluid and blood discharge, morning sickness, nausea, chills, fever, and back pain.

On 5/23/2014, 6/20/2014, 7/16/2014, 8/15/2014, 9/12/2014, 10/13/2014, 10/20/2014, and 10/27/2014, the patient presented to the obstetrician for follow-up visits.

On 11/2/2014, the patient gave birth to her son, who was born with spina bifida/myelomeningocele.

The obstetrician failed to diagnose neural tube defect on imaging studies.

The obstetrician failed to order a maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) test and did not maintain adequate legible documentation of ordering an MSAFP test.

The obstetrician failed to order an anatomical survey sonogram.

The Board ordered that the obstetrician pay a fine of $7000 against his license. The Board ordered that the obstetrician pay reimbursements costs of a minimum of $3,786.18 and not to exceed $5,786.18.  The Board also ordered that the obstetrician complete a course on “Quality Medical Record Keeping for Health Care Professionals” and that he  complete five hours of continuing medical education on “Risk Management.”

State: Florida


Date: December 2017


Specialty: Obstetrics


Symptom: Fever, Bleeding, Nausea Or Vomiting, Back Pain


Diagnosis: Obstetrical Complication, Spinal Injury Or Disorder


Medical Error: Failure to order appropriate diagnostic test, Failure to follow up, Lack of proper documentation


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 3


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Interventional Radiology – Epidural Steroid Injection On A Patient Taking Plavix



On 1/21/2014, an 85-year-old female was admitted to the hospital with complaints of lower back pain and chest pain.

The patient’s medication list, at the time of her admission, listed a prescription for 75 mg of Plavix daily.

On 1/23/2014, a radiologist performed an epidural steroid injection on the patient while she was taking Plavix.  Shortly after the procedure, the patient developed an abrupt sudden onset of diffuse abdominal pain with nausea, vomiting, and a large retroperitoneal hematoma extending from the left upper abdomen into the pelvis.

The patient had a stroke, among other complications.

The Board judged the radiologists conduct to be below the minimal standard of competence given that he performed an epidural injection on a patient while the patient had been receiving antiplatelet therapy for a significant period of time.

It was requested that the Board order one or more of the following penalties for the radiologist: permanent revocation or suspension of his license, restriction of practice, imposition of an administrative fine, issuance of a reprimand, probation, corrective action, payment of fees, remedial education, and/or any other relief that the Board deemed appropriate.

State: Florida


Date: October 2017


Specialty: Interventional Radiology


Symptom: Back Pain, Nausea Or Vomiting, Chest Pain


Diagnosis: Drug Overdose, Side Effects, or Withdrawal


Medical Error: Improper medication management


Significant Outcome: Permanent Loss Of Functional Status Or Organ


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Emergency Medicine – A Patient With Diabetes Presents With Hyperglycemia, Nausea, Vomiting, And A Bicarbonate Level



On 4/28/2015, a 69-year-old female presented to the emergency department with complaints of nausea and vomiting, which had persisted for two to three days.

The patient reported that members of her family had recently experienced similar symptoms.

The patient presented with a history of diabetes and high blood pressure.

An ED physician ordered a general chemistry lab.  The patient’s lab work revealed a high blood glucose level of 383 with a reference range of 65-99.  The patient’s lab work also showed that her bicarbonate level was low at 15 with a reference range of 21-32.  The low bicarbonate level indicated possible acidosis.

The ED physician treated the patient with insulin and antinausea medications and discharged her.  The ED physician did not further investigate the patient’s low bicarbonate level.  The ED physician did not assess the patient for diabetic ketoacidosis.

On 4/29/2015, the patient returned to the emergency department with recurrent nausea, vomiting, and worsening shortness of breath.

The patient was diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis and severe sepsis.

The patient’s condition deteriorated and she expired in the hospital on 5/4/2015.

The Board judged the ED physician’s conduct to be below the minimal standard of competence given that he failed to further investigate a low bicarbonate level by ordering additional laboratory studies such as a serum ketone, serum beta-hydroxybutyrate, or serum pH.

It was requested that the Board order one or more of the following penalties for the ED physician: permanent revocation or suspension of his license, restriction of practice, imposition of an administrative fine, issuance of a reprimand, probation, corrective action, payment of fees, remedial education, and/or any other relief that the Board deemed appropriate.

State: Florida


Date: October 2017


Specialty: Emergency Medicine


Symptom: Nausea Or Vomiting, Shortness of Breath


Diagnosis: Diabetes, Sepsis


Medical Error: Failure to order appropriate diagnostic test


Significant Outcome: Death


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



Florida – Pediatrics – Cough, Post-Tussive Emesis, Fever, Elevated Heart Rate, And Elevated Respiratory Rate



On 6/8/2012, a 16-year-old female presented with complaints of tactile fever for the previous four days, coughing, and one incident of post-tussive emesis.

A pediatrician performed an examination and documented that the patient’s temperature was 98.3, her heart rate was 98, and her respiratory rate was 22.  The patient’s weight was also documented to be 209 pounds.

The pediatrician assessed the patient was suffering from an upper respiratory infection (URI) and recommended that she continue over-the-counter medication to manage her symptoms.

On 6/9/2012, the patient again presented to the pediatrician.  She presented with the same complaints of fever and coughing, but additionally complained of a sore throat.

The pediatrician performed an examination and documented that the patient’s heart rate was 106 and her respiratory rate was 32.  She was also running a temperature of 100.8.

The pediatrician assessed that the patient had a URI and pharyngitis.  The pediatrician provided the patient with respiratory instruction and advised that she should return in two days if her temperature persisted.

Despite the increase in the patient’s heart rate and respiratory rate from the 6/8/2012 and 6/9/2012 visit, the pediatrician did not order a STAT chest x-ray for the patient. Despite the increase in the patient’s heart rate and respiratory rate from the 6/8/2012 and 6/9/2012 visit, the pediatrician did not check the patient’s oxygen saturation.

On 6/10/2012, the patient expired in her home.  The medical examiner documented the patient’s cause of death as pneumonia with sepsis due to haemophilus influenzae.

The Medical Board of Florida judged the obstetrician’s conduct to be below the minimal standard of competence given that he failed to order a STAT chest x-ray and check the patient’s oxygen saturation.

The Medical Board of Florida issued a letter of concern against the pediatrician’s license.  The Medical Board of Florida ordered that the pediatrician pay a fine of $5,000 against his license and pay reimbursement cost at a minimum of $1,408.03 and a maximum of $3,408.03.  The Medical Board of Florida ordered that the pediatrician complete five hours of continuing medical education in pediatric medicine and complete three hours of continuing medical education in diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia.

State: Florida


Date: August 2017


Specialty: Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine


Symptom: Fever, Cough, Nausea Or Vomiting


Diagnosis: Pneumonia


Medical Error: Failure to order appropriate diagnostic test


Significant Outcome: Death


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



North Carolina – Internal Medicine – Three Emergency Department Visits With Persistent Severe Headache And A Negative CT Head Scan



The Board was notified of a professional liability payment paid on 3/8/16.

A 48-year-old female presented to the emergency department three times over the course of two days with complaints of severe headache.

During the 7/28/12 visit, she had a non-contrast CT head, which was reported as normal.  The patient’s headache was treated as an acute migraine attack.  She was discharged with anti-migraine, anti-nausea, and anti-anxiety medications.

On 7/29/12, the patient returned with persistent symptoms, was treated symptomatically, and discharged.  Later that day, the patient again returned to the emergency department with continuing headache and persistent nausea and vomiting.

The patient was admitted to the hospital under the care of an internist.  The patient was started on maintenance IV fluids to treat dehydration and was treated for the underlying migraine with analgesics and antiemetic.

During the internist’s care of the patient, the internist did not order a spinal tap or additional CT scan, instead relying on the 7/28/12 emergency department CT scan.

On hospitalization day three, the patient was discharged with anti-migraine and anti-nausea medications, and was advised to follow up with her primary care physician or neurologist within a week.

On 8/2/12, the day after discharge, the patient returned to the emergency department with a continuing headache and a CT scan of her head showed intracranial hemorrhage in the right temporal lobe.

The patient was then airlifted to a tertiary care center and had clipping of a brain aneurysm/hematoma removal and ventriculoperitoneal shunt placement.

The Board obtained the patient’s records and sent them to a qualified independent medical expert for review.

The independent medical expert judged the internist’s conduct to be below the minimum standard of competence given failure to provide adequate care for severe persistent headache with normal neurological exam.  The medical expert found that the internist failed to perform a lumbar puncture and repeat imaging or seek neurology input.

The Board issued a public letter of concern, which was reported to the Federation of State Medical Boards.  It was not reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

State: North Carolina


Date: July 2017


Specialty: Internal Medicine, Hospitalist


Symptom: Headache, Nausea Or Vomiting


Diagnosis: Intracranial Hemorrhage


Medical Error: False negative, Delay in proper treatment, Failure to order appropriate diagnostic test, Underestimation of likelihood or severity


Significant Outcome: Permanent Loss Of Functional Status Or Organ, Hospital Bounce Back


Case Rating: 4


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Gynecologist – Complications After A Laparoscopic Assisted Vaginal Hysterectomy For Irregular Bleeding And Abdominal Pain



Sometime prior to 2011, a gynecologist began treating a patient with a history of a prior myomectomy in 2011, pre-diabetes, and fibromyalgia.

On 3/8/2011, the patient presented to the gynecologist with complaints of irregular vaginal bleeding with some pain in her right lower quadrant that worsened when she was on her period.  The patient informed the gynecologist that she was “ready for a hysterectomy.”  Medical records for this visit do not document the extent of the bleeding, whether or not the bleeding contributed to any other symptoms, the patient’s level of pain, or whether or not the pain interfered with the patient’s lifestyle.  At the conclusion of this visit, the gynecologist referred the patient for a pelvic ultrasound with plans to follow up after the ultrasound.

On 4/5/2011, the patient had a pelvic ultrasound which showed the uterus was oriented anteverted and located midline.  A fibroid was visualized in the right lateral aspect of the uterus that measured 5.3 by 4.2 by 5.3 centimeters.  The endometrial stripe measured 12 millimeters.  No other fibroids were seen.  The left and right ovary were normal.  There was no fluid in the cul-de-sac.  The fibroid had increased in size compared to a prior ultrasound in 2010.

On 4/11/2011, the patient presented to the gynecologist for a follow-up.  The gynecologist went over the results from the ultrasound and discussed possible treatment options.  The gynecologist did not recommend or perform an endometrial biopsy to determine the reason for endometrial thickening or repeat the ultrasound to watch this condition.  The gynecologist did not consider or document that the irregular bleeding could be caused by endometrial thickening, endometrial hyperplasia, or endometrial polyp.  She did not recommend a dilation and curettage.  At the conclusion of this visit, a decision was made for the patient to undergo a hysterectomy, which was scheduled to occur on 6/27/2011.  The patient indicated that she wanted a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, but the gynecologist advised her to leave in the ovaries.

On 6/24/2011, the patient presented to the gynecologist for a preoperative evaluation.  The gynecologist offered the patient medical and surgical options and the patient chose a hysterectomy.  The gynecologist explained various surgical options, including risk factors and complications.  During the physical examination of the patient, the gynecologist noted the patient’s uterus was bulky and that it did not descend well.  The gynecologist did not document any observable vaginal bleeding or any pelvic pain with palpation of the pelvic organs.  At the conclusion of this visit, the gynecologist had formed a surgical plan to include a total vaginal hysterectomy and depending on whether the uterus was mobile in the operation room, possible laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy, possible exploratory laparotomy, and possible cystoscopy.

On 6/27/2011, the gynecologist performed a laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, cystoscopy, and lysis of adhesions on the patient.  The medical records do not document a specific clinical reason for this choice in surgical technique versus a laparotomy approach.

During the surgery, the gynecologist encountered a web of filmy adhesions that were abundant along the back of both ovaries and continued along the back of the uterus.  The adhesions connected the bowel to the uterus and ovaries.

There were also adhesions from the ovaries to the side walls.  The gynecologist considered converting to an open procedure but opted to continue with laparoscopic dissection.  After dissection of all of the adhesions, the gynecologist obtained a general surgery consultation as a precaution to review the small bowel, which had been adherent, especially near the right ovary.  After observation through the monitor only, neither the surgeon nor the gynecologist noted any bowel injuries.

The gynecologist then proceeded with the vaginal hysterectomy portion of the surgery, which progressed “a bit more difficult than average but not remarkably so.”

Upon completion of the vaginal portion of the surgery, the gynecologist returned to the abdominal cavity.  Upon doing so, she noted a slight oozing from the round ligament on the left, which she cauterized.  The gynecologist then irrigated the pelvis and looked for any bleeding or injury but found none.

Prior to closing, the gynecologist requested a urology consultation.  After cystoscopy and examination revealed no injury to the bladder or ureter, the gynecologist completed the procedure.  The gynecologist’s detailed operative report does not specifically document the difficulties or complexities she encountered during the over eight-hour operation.

During the first three post-operative days, the patient experienced complications from the surgery that began to worsen.  The patient’s symptoms included abdominal pain, distention, lack of appetite, bowel dysfunction, fever, tachycardia, weakness, emesis, and anemia.

After attempting to treat the patient with antibiotics and observation, on 7/5/2011, the patient was taken in for an exploratory laparotomy.

During the surgery, several liters of feces were found in the patient’s abdomen, which were suctioned out.  Then, the abdomen was irrigated.  Further into the surgery, a 1-centimeter tear in the distal sigmoid and another 3-centimeter tear in the proximal rectum were identified, repaired, and treated with a colostomy.

From 7/5/2011 to 8/1/2011, the patient remained hospitalized and experienced complications including but not limited to nausea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, tachycardia, wound infection, anemia, and significant leukocytosis.  During this time period, the patient had to undergo radiological drainage of intraabdominal collections and was on several courses of antibiotics.  The patient was discharged from the hospital on 8/1/2011, approximately thirty-five days after her total hysterectomy.

Per the Board, the gynecologist committed gross negligence in her care and treatment of the patient by continuing with a long and complicated abdominal and pelvic surgery through laparoscopy without converting to laparotomy to prevent multiple intraoperative injuries.

In addition, the Board judged the gynecologist’s conduct to be below the minimum level of competence given the performance of a total abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy without definitive clinical indication and without consideration of alternative treatments, prior to consideration of a major surgery, and given failure to maintain adequate and accurate records relating to her care and treatment of the patient.

The Board issued a public reprimand with stipulations to complete a medical record keeping course.

State: California


Date: July 2017


Specialty: Gynecology, General Surgery


Symptom: Abdominal Pain, Fever, Gynecological Symptoms, Nausea Or Vomiting, Weakness/Fatigue


Diagnosis: Post-operative/Operative Complication, Gynecological Disease


Medical Error: Procedural error, Unnecessary or excessive treatment or surgery, Lack of proper documentation


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 3


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



California – Gastroenterology – Complication During Endoscopy With Colonoscopy For Nausea, Vomiting, And Epigastric Pain After Bone Marrow Transplant



On 11/17/2011, a 56-year-old female underwent a colonoscopy performed by a gastroenterologist.  The patient had undergone a bone marrow transplant for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  After the procedure, the patient complained of nausea, vomiting, and epigastric pain.  An endoscopy was performed the prior day to rule out graft versus host disease or cytomegalovirus infection and the colonoscopy was a part of that procedure.

The gastroenterologist performed the coloscopy to the terminal ileum.  The patient was sedated with midazolam 8 mg IV, fentanyl 175 micrograms IV, and diphenhydramine 50 mg IV in divided doses as the patient exhibited any signs of discomfort.  Biopsies and cultures were obtained and submitted for evaluation.  Pathology results indicated apoptosis of the ileum and right colon, but negative findings for CMV.

During the course of the colonoscopic procedure, full sedation was not achieved.  The patient became drowsy, but she became fully awake during the procedure more than once, complained of pain, and asked that the procedure be stopped.  The gastroenterologist continued and completed the procedure despite the patient’s urgent requests.

The Board issued a public reprimand against the gastroenterologist.  Stipulations included continuing medical education in the topics of pre-operative patient evaluation, informed consent, sedation, and medical record keeping.

State: California


Date: May 2017


Specialty: Gastroenterology, Anesthesiology, Hematology


Symptom: Abdominal Pain, Nausea Or Vomiting


Diagnosis: Post-operative/Operative Complication, Hematological Disease


Medical Error: Procedural error


Significant Outcome: N/A


Case Rating: 1


Link to Original Case File: Download PDF



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