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Wrongful Death and Survival Action For Failure to Advise Parents of Presence of Mass in Daughter’s Adrenal Gland

Lawsuit Against Johns Hopkins Hospital | July 20, 2020

On July 20, 2020, WVFO attorney Chris Norman filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of the estate of a young child who died as a result of the failure to advise her parents of the presence of a mass on her adrenal gland shortly after her birth.

The complaint alleges that two days after her birth, an abdominal ultrasound was performed, which was significant for a 4mm cystic mass in the baby’s right adrenal gland. The history and physical note completed by the nurse on August 9, 2016 specifically documented the presence of a possible neuroblastoma. The parents were not informed of the adrenal cyst, the potential that it could represent neuroblastoma, or the need for follow up. The baby’s newborn course was otherwise benign, and she was discharged after only five days. The internal Johns Hopkins discharge summary notes the finding of the adrenal cyst and the recommendation for a follow up abdominal ultrasound to be completed one-week post discharge to be arranged by a primary care physician, but, the records do not suggest that the parents were informed of this. Moreover, the presence of the adrenal cyst and the need for follow up does not appear on the “Problems” list, or the “Patient Active Problem List” contained within the discharge summary. When listing the “Discharge Instructions” that were supposedly “reviewed with mother”, the presence of the adrenal cyst, the potential that that cyst represented neuroblastoma, and the need for a follow up ultrasound was not included. The discharge instructions and after visit summary, which were reviewed with the baby’s mother and signed by her at the time of discharge, are completely devoid of any mention of the adrenal cyst, the concern for neuroblastoma, or the need for a follow up abdominal ultrasound to monitor the adrenal mass. As a result of the Defendants’ failure to inform the parents of the imaging findings, the potential that the mass identified was neuroblastoma, and the need for follow up, no follow up was conducted to monitor this potentially cancerous mass. Approximately two years later, on July 31, 2018, an abdominal imaging study reported to show liver and spleen enlargement and displacement, and the child was rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital. An abdominal ultrasound revealed the presence of a large abdominal mass in the right upper quadrant that was noted to be suspicious for neuroblastoma. Upon further evaluation, the providers at Johns Hopkins Hospital noted that the abdominal tumor originated in her right adrenal gland (the same location as the cyst that was identified during her newborn admission, but never followed up on). By that time, her primary right adrenal gland tumor had grown from 4 mm at the time of its diagnosis during her newborn admission to 14 cm. Ultimately, the child was found to have cancer in her abdomen, her lymph nodes, her upper chest and neck, her skull, orbits, pelvis, spine, and left femur. She was treated for the cancer for several months, however, in May of 2019, she presented to the Johns Hopkins Hospital with malaise, vomiting, and fever. Her cancer had progressed and she went on to develop hypovolemic shock secondary to intraabdominal venous oozing and related ascites from her intraabdominal metastases. She acutely decompensated. She passed away on June 3, 2019.

The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that the defendants negligently failed to advise the child’s parents of the existence of the mass and the need for follow-up care to address the development of neuroblastoma, and that this negligence ultimately caused the child’s death.

The action is pending in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland.

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