Pediatric Pneumonia Misdiagnosis

New Jersey Lawyers for Failure to Diagnose Childhood Pneumonia

Respiratory tract infections like pneumonia are extremely common in young children. In fact, these illnesses are the most common in pediatrics and result in the most childhood visits to the emergency room. According to estimates, young children may experience 10 or more infections of the respiratory tract every year. Among respiratory infections, pneumonia comprises approximately 15 percent. Although common, pneumonia can also be deadly, particularly in developing parts of the world. Even with modern medicine in the U.S., pneumonia misdiagnosis occurs far too often. It is actually among the leading misdiagnosed conditions in children. When pediatricians and other doctors fail to diagnose pneumonia in a timely manner, young patients can suffer serious complications. In the most tragic cases, misdiagnosed pneumonia is fatal. If your child suffered injury as a result of misdiagnosed or mismanaged pneumonia, it is important to understand the legal avenues at your disposal. You may have grounds to pursue damages for medical negligence. Contact us anytime at 866-708-8617 for additional information and a free consultation with an experienced pediatric malpractice attorney.

Understanding Pneumonia in Children

Pneumonia occurs when the lungs become inflamed. It can be either viral or bacterial, depending on the specific case. Pneumonia occurs most often in infants under age 1 and then occurs less frequently as children age. This illness is most often preceded by a viral infection. In fact, at least 50 percent of pneumonia cases begin with a viral upper respiratory infection. Once the immune system is compromised in the lungs, pneumonia is more likely to develop. When a mother suffers from an infection like Group B streptococci, she may also transmit the infection to the fetus in utero, ultimately resulting in pneumonia after the child is born.

Symptoms of Pneumonia in Children

The specific symptoms your child experiences when suffering from pneumonia depend on their age at the time of the illness. The following are some signs of pneumonia by age group:

Newborns and Infants with Pneumonia

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Poor feeding
  • Grunting
  • Respiratory distress
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of muscle tone

Pneumonia in Toddlers and Young Children

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of eating (anorexia)
  • Abdominal pain

Older Children and Adolescents with Pneumonia 

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid heart rate

Risk Factors for Child Pneumonia

Certain factors place a child at increased risk for developing pneumonia, some of which include:

  • Neurologic diseases
  • Medications that affect the cough reflex, steroids, narcotics
  • Anesthesia
  • Intubation
  • Tracheostomy
  • Cleft palate
  • Aspiration or inhaled foreign bodies
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Pulmonary fibrosis and some lung diseases
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Bronchitis
  • Chemotherapy and radiation

It is absolutely imperative for doctors to recognize risk factors for pneumonia and to run appropriate tests to confirm or rule out a pneumonia diagnosis. When pneumonia is misdiagnosed or allowed to progress untreated, complications can become increasingly severe. Failure to identify warning signs of pneumonia and/or to initiate immediate and appropriate treatment may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Contact NJ Medical Malpractice Attorneys for your Child’s Pneumonia Case

When a child is injured or dies as a result of pneumonia misdiagnosis or failure to treat, doctors and other negligent medical professionals can be held accountable. As the parent or caregiver of a child who experiences complications from undiagnosed or untreated pneumonia, you have legal options. Contact our New Jersey pediatric malpractice attorneys today for a free consultation about your child’s pneumonia misdiagnosis. We represent child victims of medical errors throughout New Jersey and are available anytime to address your specific questions and concerns. Simply call 866-708-8617 now or contact us online.

Resource: Diagnosis and Management of Pneumonia in Infants and Children, Relias

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