Expert testifies for plaintiff as med mal trial enters third day

Amelia Flood Apr. 29, 2010, 5:31am

Pediatrician Dr. Marc Weber testified that he believed the defendant in a St. Clair County medical malpractice trial deviated from the standard care when she treated a toddler who presented with "toxic" symptoms 10 years ago.

Weber, of South Carolina, testified for plaintiff Ronnika Watson in the trial's second day.

Watson is suing Dr. Danuta Pikul for allegedly failing to monitor her son, Darrell Banks Jr., as his condition deteriorated when he was brought to the emergency room at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville.

Darrell Banks Jr. died on April 22, 2000 from what was later determined to be sepsis.

His mother's suit seeks damages of at least $50,000 and costs.

The two year-old boy had been suffering from a bacterial infection that caused complications with his adrenal glands.

Weber testified that he believed Pikul erred in not putting the boy on an IV with fluids and starting him on a course of antibiotics.

He called Darrell Banks Jr.'s condition "a significant bacterial infection," that required different treatment than the Tylenol Pikul prescribed.

He questioned Pikul's diagnosis that the boy suffered from a middle ear infection, pointing to the fact that Pikul had the hospital's laboratories run another set of tests on the boy and that she called for a catheter test of his urine.

"If you're worried about something more than a simple virus or middle ear infection, you order more laboratory tests," Weber said.
Weber went on to testify that treating the boy differently might have improved his chances of surviving the infection.

Under cross examination by defense attorney James Mendillo, Weber admitted that Pikul had been right to order the tests redone after they came back showing abnormalities.

Mendillo questioned the doctor at length about whether additional testing was appropriate in Darrell Banks Jr.'s case.

"So, obviously she thought there was something going on or she just likes to order tests," Mendillo asked Weber.

"I'm not saying that's what she likes to do," Weber replied.

Weber's testimony took up most of Wednesday morning.

Watson's case opened Tuesday with her testimony and that of other family members.

Members of the St. Elizabeth's nursing staff also testified Wednesday.

Watson originally filed her suit in 2002. She dropped it five years later. St. Elizabeth's, a defendant in the original complaint, has since been dropped from the suit as well.

The trial will continue Thursday.

Watson is represented by Richard Hauser and others.

Mendillo and others represent Pikul.

St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson presides.

The case is St. Clair case number 08-L-332.

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