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Ear Infection Results in Meningitis, Man Says

SAN DIEGO (CN) - Two Kaiser Permanente doctors and its audiology lab underdiagnosed a man's ear infection, leaving him with permanent damage from meningitis, he claims in Superior Court.

Brian Crowley says he visited Kaiser five times for ear symptoms that began with redness, swelling, pain, and difficulty hearing.

In a little more than a month, the symptoms became worse and included discharge, increased hearing loss, a rounded ear drum, vertigo, disequilibrium and tinnitus.

His condition initially was diagnosed as "otitis externa," and then as "otitis externa with possible otitis media," and finally as "normal to severe mixed hearing loss," while he was treated with an ear wash, ear drops, various medications, and continuing appointments to come back.

One day, his wife came home to find him unconscious and he was rushed to a non-Kaiser hospital, "where he was promptly diagnosed with otomastoiditis and bacterial meningitis. He now suffers from "permanent, severe neurological and cognitive deficits as a result of the underdiagnosed and untreated mastoiditis infection," according to his complaint.

He seeks past and future medical, and incidental expenses, general damages, pre-judgment interest and costs for medical malpractice, and his wife is seeking loss of consortium damages.

Plaintiff is represented by Kevin F. Quinn of Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire in San Diego.

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