Shamir Tillery was 11 months old when he came down with a high fever. It was December 2009 and his mother, Shantice Tillery, was getting their home ready for the holidays. But when his temperature did not drop after a day, Shantice brought Shamir to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. On December 21, after being evaluated the doctors concluded that he was suffering from an upper respiratory infection and he was discharged a few hours later. But the next day his symptoms worsened, so Shantice brought him back to the hospital. The attending physician concurred with the prior diagnosis and Shamir was once again sent home.
The very next day, on December 23, Shamir woke up in even worse condition and was rushed to the hospital for a third consecutive day. According to a medical malpractice lawsuit filed on behalf of the Tillery family it took more than an hour for him to be seen by a doctor. The lawsuit also claims that it took all night to get the results of his blood test, which showed that Shamir was suffering from bacterial meningitis. By the time the doctors administered antibiotics to treat the ailment it was nearly three in the morning on Christmas eve.
“It is inexcusable negligence,” said the attorney representing the Tillery family. “What’s really sad is that it would have been so easy for this to have been corrected for him, to get the right treatment, when all he needed was antibiotics.”
In November 2015, a Philadelphia jury agreed when they came back with a verdict for the plaintiff. They found the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 60 percent liable and Dr. Monika Goyal, the attending physician, 40 percent at fault. The Tillery family was awarded $10.1 million, which included $7.5 million for pain and suffering, $1.5 million for future medical care, and $1.1 million for future loss of earnings. The defense immediately appealed the ruling, but a three judge panel upheld the verdict earlier this year. Because of the postponement, the hospital and doctor will now have to pay an additional $3.5 million, bringing the total damages to $13.6 million.
The medical malpractice lawsuit also claims that if Shamir, now 8, was not misdiagnosed his bacterial meningitis could have been treated earlier, which may have prevented permanent brain damage. In addition to the brain injury, which has had significant impact on his cognitive ability, Shamir also allegedly became deaf as a result of the delayed treatment.
“I don’t know if he’s going to be able to do everything that he could have done,” said Shantice Tillery. “I’m mad it happened . . . I just want him to do everything any other child can do.”