Lawsuit Filed By Family of Teen Who Died of MeningitisJun 17, 2003 | The St. Augustine Record Attorneys for the family of a Bartram Trail High School girl who died of bacterial meningitis in 2001 announced a lawsuit against the Mayo Clinic of Jacksonville, a doctor and St. Luke's Hospital.
In a media conference Monday that was part politicking and part expression of outrage, the Fort Lauderdale attorneys said the case shows why caps should not be placed on the non-economic damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.
The Florida Legislature is now in its second special session, aimed at resolving the malpractice insurance crisis.
The situation pits the Florida House, insurers and doctors against the Senate, attorneys and patients.
Lauren Blomberg, 17, died of bacterial meningitis on March 18, 2001. The disease is an infection of the spinal cord fluid and tissue surrounding the brain. It spreads like a cold, according to the attorneys.
A spokesman for the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic and St. Luke's Hospital could not be reached to talk about the case, but he faxed over a statement saying that Lauren's condition was too advanced for her to be saved when she reached the hospital.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed June 13 in the Duval County Circuit Court, Lauren died because a doctor did not give her an intravenous anti-bacterial shot soon enough. Lauren entered the emergency room of St. Luke's Hospital at about 5 p.m. At 5:20 p.m., an intern placed an order for the antibiotic "rocephin" to treat her complaints of headache, fever, body aches, nausea and more.
At 7:10 p.m., the medicine was administered. Five minutes later, doctors initiated a spinal tap. Lauren was unresponsive and not breathing by the end of the procedure, the lawsuit states.
"What I want is some responsibility. I want them to not sweep it under the carpet," said Lauren's father, Stephen Blomberg.
Erik Kaldor, a spokesman for the Mayo Clinic, issued the following statement:
"Lauren was appropriately evaluated and treated at St. Luke's Hospital. However, by the time Lauren got to the hospital, her condition was too advanced and she could not be saved.
This type of tragic case underscores the concern doctors and hospitals have about providing emergency treatment in Florida's current malpractice environment."
The family invited at least five news organizations into their Fruit Cove home at about 11:30 a.m. While camera men set up in the living room, Lauren's mother described the pain of losing a daughter.
"We're here. We're just living life and trying to get through it. Things change when people die," Darcie Blomberg said.
Lauren's younger sister, Kristen, recently turned 18 and graduated from Bartram Trail High School.
"After she died, it changed a lot of people. It made a lot of people come closer together," Kristen said. "It kind of made me not want to go to school," she added. She wants to study to become a paralegal.
"When she first died, we had some people come, and that kind of freaked me out, because I wasn't expecting it. I guess it's a necessary evil. You do what you have to do," she said, walking into the living room.