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Diagnosing Errors Involving Children May Be Reason Enough For A Medical Malpractice Claim

On Behalf of | Jun 11, 2015 | Medical Malpractice

Diagnosing errors continue to be a problem in this nation. They are even
a huge concern in pediatric wards. Such medical negligence has caused
kids harm and has even led to adverse events, hospital admission, surgery,
and even the loss of innocent lives. The truth is that pediatric diagnosing
errors occur far more often than they should. Even one case involving
a diagnosis error is one too many, because a precious child ends up suffering
the consequences of a medical professional’s mistake.

How Often Do Pediatric Diagnosing Errors Happen?

A 2010 survey—for which pediatricians voluntarily contributed information
anonymously—found that 54 percent of participating pediatricians
admitted to making one or two diagnosing errors in a month, and nearly
half of the respondents said their error in diagnosing patients actually
caused patients harm at least once or twice a year.

Sadly, it is likely that pediatric diagnosis errors occur much more often
than the survey indicates. There is no requirement that diagnosis errors
be compiled, so the scanty data available comes from self-reporting in
surveys like this one. While there is not much known about pediatric diagnosing
errors, errors in diagnosis are the most commonly reported claim (32%)
in pediatric malpractice lawsuits, according to the survey.

Why Do Pediatric Diagnosing Errors Occur?

There are several parties involved in a child’s medical care, including
nurses, a physician, and sometimes lab technicians, pharmacists, and other
medical professionals. All of these people need to do their job correctly
and be thorough in their evaluations and communication with each other
in order to prevent diagnosing errors. Unfortunately, this isn’t
always the case and breakdowns occur that can lead to diagnosing errors.

In addition, the survey suggests several reasons why a child may be a victim
of a diagnosing error. The most common factors reported by pediatricians include:

  • Failure to gather a patient’s medical history.
  • Failure to conduct a physical examination.
  • Failure to perform a chart review.
  • Failure to provide adequate medical care due to poor coordination and teamwork.

Unfortunately, any of these breakdowns in processes, procedures, or care
can lead to one of the several types of diagnosing errors.

Types of Pediatric Diagnosing Errors

Diagnosing errors involving children include:

  • Failure to diagnose. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors sometimes fail
    to diagnose health conditions because a patient’s lab or test results
    are unreported, unread, or lost. When conditions aren’t correctly
    diagnosed, children end up suffering serious health consequences.
  • Misdiagnosis. Although many diseases have overlapping symptoms which can present a
    challenge, doctors are highly trained and should do everything they can
    to make the correct diagnosis—not just guess. But often doctors
    do make their best guess and fail to conduct tests, which can lead to
    a misdiagnosis.
  • Delay in diagnosis. Sometimes doctors fail to order tests at the first signs of symptoms
    and they delay making a diagnosis, which in turn delays a patient’s
    treatment. When treatment is delayed, patients can suffer serious harm.

The Effects of Pediatric Diagnosing Errors

The survey points out that the most commonly reported pediatric diagnostic
error is when viral illnesses are diagnosed as bacterial illness. Other
diagnostic mistakes involving children included misdiagnosing medication
side-effects, psychiatric disorders, and appendicitis.

Although some diagnostic errors don’t end up causing a child harm,
there are many instances in which a mistake involving a diagnosis can
actually cause a child to suffer further injuries and even death. Take
appendicitis, for example. If a doctor misdiagnoses appendicitis, the
delay in treating the patient could actually cause a child to suffer infections,
complications, and even death.

When innocent children are victims of diagnosis errors, negligent medical
professionals need to be held accountable for their wrongful actions.
If your child has been harmed as a result of a diagnosing error or any
other type of pediatric medical negligence, you may have a medical malpractice claim.