EUGENE, Ore. — A lawyer representing the mother of a University of Oregon student who died during a meningococcal outbreak told jurors at a civil trial that the emergency room doctor who examined the young woman was too hasty in his decision to send her home to rest.
The doctor at the hospital near the Eugene campus diagnosed Lauren Jones with a flu-like illness on Feb. 17, 2015. Jones, 18, died later that day after being found unconscious in her dorm room.
During Wednesday’s opening statements, attorney Dave Miller said expert witnesses will testify that Jones should have been given additional tests, especially since three other students had been diagnosed with meningococcal disease in the month before Jones fell ill. Moreover, he said the hospital should have given Jones antibiotics and kept her in the hospital for a longer period of time.
“The failure to do these things fell below the standard of care for doctors and hospitals, and was negligent,” Miller told the jury.
Jones’ mother, Dorian Sanders, seeks $2 million in the suit against PeaceHealth, which operates the hospital, The Register-Guard reported (http://bit.ly/2xlLpqR).
Jeffrey Street, a lawyer for PeaceHealth, told jurors that the emergency room doctor shouldn’t be blamed.
Street said trial evidence will show the doctor adequately checked for signs and symptoms of a meningococcal infection. The bacterial disease, he said, has always been a diagnostic challenge for doctors because it can be “virtually impossible” in some cases to distinguish its symptoms from those associated with more common viral illnesses.
Jones received “very appropriate, very proper, very reasonable care” during her three-hour stay in the emergency room, Street said.
Jones, a member of the UO acrobatics and tumbling team, was one of seven people who came down with meningococcal disease during the outbreak. The other six patients all survived after receiving treatment.
The trial is expected to run through late September.
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com