When a doctor makes a mistake, it can result in devastating consequences. This is even true for kids whose pediatrician makes an error that causes harm. Know some possible types of pediatrician errors as well as measures you can take as a parent to prevent them. And learn your legal options if pediatrician malpractice causes serious harm.
One of the most common and preventable type of error is medication errors. This can be dangerous for a child of any age but particularly younger ones, according to a 2008 report from the Joint Commission. Young children’s tolerance is much less because immune, hepatic and renal are still developing.
Dosing errors are a common type of error involving children. This can happen because of calculations based on a child’s weight, according to the Joint Commission, and the fact that many medicines are formulated for adults.
The following are some of the medication errors that can involve children:
- incorrect drug or dose;
- improper administration;
- incorrect preparation of drug; and
- administered at incorrect time.
Although these types of mistakes can happen because of a nurse’s or pharmacy’s mistake, a pediatrician may be to blame in some cases as well. Miscommunication, miscalculations, and mistakes writing the prescription are some of the ways these errors can occur.
Parents can help keep their children safe by making sure the pediatrician is communicating verbally as well as in writing.
The doctor should share all pertinent information such as:
- why he or she prescribed the medication;
- the dosage;
- when to give it to the child;
- method of administration;
- proper way of storing it; and
- any potential side effects.
After the pediatrician has provided this information, repeat it back to ensure you heard it correctly. And if there is any confusion or concerns, ask questions.
Another common type of mistake that might indicate pediatrician malpractice involves diagnoses, this could be:
- a failure to diagnose;
- misdiagnosis; or
- delayed diagnosis.
This can happen for a number of reasons including failure to order the appropriate tests, misreading the results, or ignoring symptoms.
Although a mistake in diagnosing isn’t always serious, in some cases it could be particularly serious or life threatening. The disease or medical condition might have been treatable, but if the child’s immune system is not strong enough, a delay could make it difficult to fight off.
There are common types of illnesses that a doctor may improperly diagnose, according to a 2008 article in the journal Pediatrics. One is meningitis, which often involves vulnerable patients like infants and toddlers. Doctors may delay their diagnosis, which may be fatal. Pediatricians may mistake symptoms for the flu or ear infection, for instance, or the doctor may fail to perform a spinal tap in a timely manner.
Other diagnosis problems, according to the article, involved:
- pneumonia; and
- brain damage after a head injury.
Timing is of the essence when it comes to diagnosing and treatment. So if there is a failure to properly diagnose the patient, it could cause the condition to worsen. To keep your child safe from this type of pediatric error, follow up with the doctor if the symptoms persist after a doctor’s visit or diagnosis. Also, consider seeking a second opinion.
When the doctor gives a diagnosis, ask if it could be something else. Ask questions about the tests the doctor is performing or ordering and verify the results. Also, trust your gut. Sometimes a diagnosis just doesn’t sound right. If your instinct is telling you the doctor made an error, pursue the matter further. If the pediatrician seems put off or rushes the appointment, consider seeking care from someone else.
Talk to an Attorney if Pediatrician Malpractice Caused a Child’s Injury or Illness
It’s important to talk with an attorney if you believe the pediatrician’s care was negligent and caused your child to suffer harm. Legal counsel will evaluate the situation to determine if you have a valid case. And if you do, your attorney will provide guidance regarding the next steps to collect adequate evidence and determine the types of damages that you might seek.
Call an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates to set up a consultation: 800-500-0000.