Clinic Responsible for Misdiagnosing Newborn’s Meningitis, Must Pay Millions

The story of the jury verdict begins in 2013, when the boy, Johnny Galligan, was just 8 days old. Alarmed by the newborn’s crying, lack of appetite, and fever, his parents, Alina and Steve Galligan, brought him to Essentia-Health-Ashland Clinic, located in Memorial Medical Center, in Ashland, Wisconsin…, Clinic Responsible for Misdiagnosing Newborn’s Meningitis, Must Pay Millions, May 2023


There, the baby was seen by Andrew D. Snider, MD, a family physician. Snider noted the baby’s extreme fussiness and irritability and was concerned that he was being overfed. Without ordering additional tests, the family physician sent the baby home but arranged for the Galligans to be visited by a county nurse the following day.


Her visit raised concerns, as court documents make clear. She contacted Snider’s office and explained that the baby needed to be seen immediately. After writing a script for reflux and constipation, Snider arranged for the baby to be taken to his office later that day.


Following an x-ray, Johnny appeared lethargic and in respiratory distress. He was then taken down the hall to Memorial’s emergency department (ED), where doctors suspected a critical bowel obstruction. Arrangements were made for him to be transported by helicopter to Essentia Health, in Duluth, Minnesota. There, doctors saw that Johnny was acidotic and in respiratory failure. Once again, he was rerouted, this time to Children’s Hospital, in Minneapolis, where physicians finally arrived at a definitive diagnosis: meningitis.


In 2020, the Galligans filed a medical malpractice claim against several parties, including Snider, Duluth Clinic LTD (doing business as Essentia Health and Essentia Health–Ashland Clinic), and Memorial Hospital. In their suit, Johnny’s parents alleged that the collective failure to diagnose their son’s severe infection led directly to his permanent brain damage.


But a Bayfield County, Wisconsin, jury didn’t quite see things that way. After deliberating, it dismissed the claim against Snider and the other named defendants and found the staff of Duluth Clinic to be solely responsible for injuries to Johnny Galligan.


Duluth must pay $19 million to the Galligan family, of which the largest amount ($7,500,00) is to be directed to Johnny’s “future medical expenses and care needs.”


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