A former Fleetwood couple was recently awarded $1.72 million by a Berks County jury because a doctor at Reading Hospital failed to diagnose bacterial meningitis that caused the death of their two-year-old daughter.
The jury voted 10-2 on June 14 to award the sum to Allentown residents Anna and Charles Takacs, parents of Emma Takacs, who died Sept. 15, 2009, in Lehigh Valley Hospital of respiratory failure. The jury deliberated for nearly four hours after the week-long trial.
The verdict, approved on June 17 by Judge Thomas J. Rowley, is one of the highest ever awarded in Berks County. Defendants Reading Hospital and Dr. Duane D. Siberski have 30 days to file an appeal with the state Superior Court.
The jury awarded the Takacs $860,000 for Emma Takacs’ future lost earnings and $860,000 for pain and suffering.
According to court records, Emma Takacs was taken to the Reading Hospital emergency room on Dec. 16, 2007, after being referred there by her pediatrician, Dr. Rima L. Straussman who recorded that the child had a fever of more than 103 degrees.
Siberski, who treated the infant, said she had an ear infection, and the baby was discharged on Dec. 19, 2007.
Later that day, Emma, who was three months old at the time, was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown, where she tested positive for a bacterial infection.
She was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Jan. 14, 2008, and remained there until Feb. 13, 2008.
The Takacs’ lawyer, David K. Inscho of Kline & Specter in Philadelphia, argued the hospital neglected to perform tests to rule out the possibility that Emma had a serious bacterial infection.
The hospital’s lawyer, Edwin L. Stock, countered that the hospital was not negligent because Siberski properly cared for the child.