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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Marion doctor fined for not diagnosing baby’s brain tumor, causing irreversible damage

A Marion County doctor was fined $5,000 for not properly diagnosing a baby’s growing head circumference over the course of several months as a brain tumor, leading to the baby experiencing “irreversible brain damage.”

Dr. Alfredo Edgardo Mercado-Quiñones was ordered by the Florida Department of Health Board of Medicine to pay $5,000 and an additional $2,548.88 in reimbursement costs to the department for the medical malpractice case, which dates back to 2016.

According to an administrative complaint filed by the FDOH this past December, Mercado-Quiñones was working at the Munroe Regional Medical Center (which is now AdventHealth Ocala) as the primary care physician of a patient, identified as “T.H.,” who was born on September 18, 2016.

The complaint documents the head circumference measurements that were taken at various points during the six months after T.H.’s birth. According to the complaint, at birth, T.H. had a head circumference of 14.5 inches. During a visit to see Mercado-Quiñones sixteen days after his birth, T.H. had a circumference of 16 inches.

Three more measurements were recorded of 17 inches on November 21, 2016, 18.5 inches on January 24, 2017, and 21 inches on March 6, 2017.

During the visit on March 6, 2017, T.H.’s parents “communicated concerns about T.H.’s enlarged head circumference.” At that time, Mercado-Quiñones told the parents that the increased size of T.H.’s head could be due to “hydrocephalus or possible malignancy.”

Hydrocephalus is a buildup of fluid in the ventricles of the brain. The extra fluid puts pressure on the brain and can cause the head to swell, as well as brain damage.

After telling the parents the diagnosis, Mercado-Quiñones recommended that T.H. be taken to the emergency room for evaluation.

The complaint indicates that on March 14, 2017, T.H. was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and choroid plexus papilloma, which is a rare type of brain tumor. That day, T.H. underwent brain surgery to treat the tumor.

“By the time T.H.’s tumor was diagnosed, T.H. already had irreversible brain damage,” reads the complaint.

The complaint accuses Mercado-Quiñones of failing to “timely recognize the rapid increase” in the child’s head circumference and of “timely” referring T.H. for “proper evaluation and diagnosis.”

Mercado-Quiñones accepted the terms of a proposed settlement in May, and on August 28, a final order was issued by the FDOH Board of Medicine.

In addition to the fine and reimbursement, Mercado-Quiñones must complete three hours of continuing medical education related to diagnosis and treatment of hydrocephalus, as well as five hours of continuing medical education related to risk management.