A Middle River plumber who suffered brain damage after being stricken by meningitis was awarded $1.67 million by a state arbitration panel yesterday that found his physician misdiagnosed his illness as a sinus headache.
"The claimant had the classic signs for [meningitis] when he arrived at the doctor's. The doctor just missed it," said Lawrence W. Shavers, a lawyer who served as chairman of the three-member panel assembled by the Maryland Health Claims Arbitration Office.
Randy Bradley, 35, a father of three, suffers from both long-term and short-term memory loss, said his lawyer, Stephen L. Snyder.
After suffering from a severe headache and eye pain for four days, Mr. Bradley, of Edisto Way, went to the Eastpoint Medical Center on Old Northpoint Road in eastern Baltimore County on Dec. 18, 1989, Mr. Snyder said.
There, Mr. Bradley saw Dr. Larry Tilley, the physician on duty, at about 8:20 p.m., Mr. Snyder said.
Dr. Tilley told Mr. Bradley he was suffering from an acute sinus headache, gave him a prescription for an oral antibiotic and sent him home, the plumber's lawyers said.
At 8 a.m. the next morning, Mr. Bradley's wife, Lachelle, found him unconscious.
He was taken to Franklin Square Hospital, where he was diagnosed as suffering from pneumococcal meningitis, a life-threatening bacterial infection that attacks the fibrous membranes covering the spinal cord and brain.
Mr. Bradley remained in a coma for 12 days and when he first woke up, was unable to recognize his wife. He later spent several months in occupational training and other rehabilitation tTC programs, Mr. Snyder said.
Despite these efforts, Mr. Bradley, a member of Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 48, has not been able to return to work, Mr. Snyder said.
Andrew Buckner, Dr. Tilley's attorney, called the $1.67 million award for compensatory damages "inappropriate" and said his client planned to appeal it in state Circuit Court.
Although Mr. Buckner declined to talk about specifics of the case, he said that generally, "I'm satisfied that the doctor did not goof."