Delayed Diagnosis of Herpes Results in Injuries to Newborn Child

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on October 12, 2017

Herpes VirusThis case takes place in South Carolina and involves a female patient who presented to her Ob/Gyn during her third trimester of pregnancy for blood work. She was tested on a Thursday and subsequently gave birth two days later. The delivery progressed without complication and the mother and infant were both discharged. Less than a week later, the mother presented to the ER with her child. The child had a rash and a fever, and was admitted to the hospital for evaluation. Twelve days later the child was diagnosed with herpes. Unbeknownst to the mother, her blood work came back positive for herpes the day after delivery yet her Ob/Gyn never informed her or the pediatrician in the hospital. The child suffered debilitating side effects and now has cerebral palsy.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. If the pediatrician knew there was a potential that the child was infected with herpes, what treatment options would have been available?
  • 2. Could you perform a record review to establish whether or not there would have been a different outcome?

Expert Witness Response E-008898

I could review whether or not, and how, the child should have been evaluated per current guidelines and standard of care based on the results of the maternal testing (had the results been known to the infant’s doctors). I could then review what the possible outcomes of testing and treatment pathways would have been. Neonatal herpes infection is a horrible disease that even with our best treatment still, often, leads to poor outcomes. But I could discuss how timely treatment could have modified the risk of poor outcome.

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