Father of cancer patient who died from bacterial infection in Waco files lawsuit against ER doctor, nurse

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Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 4:11 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The father of a 23-year-old cancer patient who died in 2020 from a rare, fast-spreading bacterial infection has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against an emergency room doctor and a nurse practitioner.

Charles Neal, of McLennan County, is seeking more than $1 million from Dr. Anthony Howard James and nurse practitioner Trevin Lee Rube in the May 30, 2020, death of his daughter, Meagan Neal.

The lawsuit initially was filed in Dallas County on Neal’s behalf by Houston attorney Randall S. Richardson. However, the lawsuit recently was transferred to 170th State District Court in McLennan County.

The lawsuit also initially named Baylor Scott & White Health as a defendant. However, Richardson said he dismissed Baylor Scott & White because his medical experts determined the hospital staff was not at fault. He said James and Rube are not Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center employees but have hospital privileges to work there.

Addison attorney Michelle Obach, who represents James and Rube, declined comment Wednesday on the allegations.

According to the lawsuit, Meagan Neal, an Army veteran who recently had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma and was undergoing chemotherapy, came to Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center in Waco two days before her death complaining of pain and swelling in her arm pit.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells that most commonly arises in and around the adrenal glands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Ms. Neal was improperly diagnosed, and her signs and symptoms were not appreciated as significant, and she was discharged home without the appropriate treatment, resulting in her death as a result in delay of treatment of necrotizing fasciitis,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants were negligent and “breached the standard of care” by failing to properly diagnose her with necrotizing fasciitis, a dangerous bacterial infection; failing to ensure an appropriate treatment plan was instituted; failing to properly use the nursing chain of command; and failing to admit her to the hospital.

Neal is seeking damages for loss of companionship, medical, funeral and burial expenses and mental anguish.