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Childhood Measles, Vaccines, and Malpractice: The Connection

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Measles is a dangerous respiratory disease that can lead to permanent health damage and death. In 2000, vaccinations administered since the 1960s all but eliminated measles. The current resurgence of the disease is mainly due to fewer parents vaccinating their children on time, or at all, and young doctors who are unfamiliar with the disease. Doctors growing up when measles cases were rare, if heard of at all, fail to recognize the severity of the condition, its symptoms, or the importance of impressing upon parents and caregivers the necessity of measles vaccinations for children.

When your pediatrician does not thoroughly discuss the dangers of measles, they may mislead you into thinking that vaccination is unimportant. So, when you decline or delay the MMR vaccination and your child gets the illness, you may fault your doctor for wrong or missing advice. However, when your child contracts the disease and your doctor misdiagnoses measles, you have a medical malpractice claim to explore with a lawyer. Likewise, if your doctor or another medical professional makes an error while administering the measles vaccine, you may have a claim for vaccine injuries. Similarly, side effects from the vaccine can cause serious damage if your child experiences an adverse reaction that is not caught and aggressively confronted right away. And when your doctor fails to impress you with the importance of the measles vaccination and your child has undiagnosed measles, it is imperative to speak with an experienced pediatric malpractice attorney to go through your case.

Our seasoned attorneys have handled countless malpractice lawsuits on behalf of children and families throughout New Jersey. Contact us for a free review of your case and take solace in knowing that a seasoned medical negligence legal team serving infants and children is in your corner. Call 866-708-8617 today.

Deep Dive into Measles

Measles is a viral disease that originates in the nose and throat, where the virus infects a person. The condition is highly contagious and transmitted by airborne particles and contact. An infected individual spreads the virus by breathing, coughing, or sneezing, and others inhale or touch the virus on surfaces where infected droplets land. Within seven to fourteen days, those exposed to the virus may develop symptoms, such as a whole-body rash, cough, and runny nose. Other symptoms include irritated eyes, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

In children, symptoms may appear as high fever, watery eyes (or pink eye), runny nose, and cough. After a few days of infection, tiny white spots form in the mouth. After three to five days, a rash appears. It may begin at the face and spread to the rest of the body. The spots may be raised, flat, or joined to give the skin a red, aggravated appearance. Fever may increase when the rash is at its peak. Children under five are more likely to suffer from complications of measles.

Common Complications from Measles

Complications of measles can be life-threatening. Measles can cause pneumonia, encephalitis, brain damage, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), and seizures. SSPE is a central nervous system disorder that can strike an individual up to ten years after they have had measles. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, one-fifth of all unvaccinated individuals with measles in the United States end up in hospitals. Ten percent of every 1,000 people infected with the disease suffer brain swelling that can lead to brain damage. 1 out of 20 children with measles develops pneumonia, and 1 in 3 out of 1,000 measles cases end in death.

Childhood Vaccination for Measles Prevention

Vaccinations are still the most effective prevention. Most children receive two doses of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine at one to one- and one-half years and four to six years old. A child’s pediatrician typically recommends the vaccine as part of children’s vaccinations from birth until school age. Public schools and childcare facilities require an up-to-date immunization record with all the vaccinations schools or facilities require, typically, Polio, Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP), Hepatitis B, Chicken Pox, and MMR. In New Jersey, children must have at least one dose of MMR by 15 months to attend childcare, preschool, or pre-K facilities. However, they must have both doses by kindergarten. Parents may receive exemptions for their unvaccinated children on medical and religious grounds.

Unvaccinated Children and Signs of Measles

Although the best prevention for measles is vaccination, some parents keep their children unvaccinated. Unvaccinated children who contract the disease may visit their doctor with symptoms that appear like many common illnesses. Children presenting with fever and rash should cause a doctor to suspect measles, especially if the patient recently returned from abroad or was near someone with a rash and fever. A blood, urine, or tissue test from a throat or nose swab can confirm the patient has measles. Once diagnosed, the physician treats the patient’s symptoms with pain relief, hydration, and rest recommendation. Antibiotics may be appropriate for eye or ear infections or pneumonia. Children can receive several vitamin A supplement doses, but there is no medication to treat the disease.

With the decline in childhood vaccinations due to Covid-19 and other reasons, measles outbreaks have risen in the United States since its near eradication in 2000. However, physicians who do not suspect measles in patients with measles symptoms are another reason for the rise. Since the condition is wildly contagious, those left undiagnosed to mingle with family, friends, and schoolmates can spread the disease rapidly. An outbreak at a school or in a community can put unvaccinated children at risk.

Immediate Diagnosis of a Child with Measles is Essential

In addition, a pediatrician’s failure to promptly diagnose measles can lead to complications. For example, a physician who has not encountered any measles cases in their practice may send a young child home with Tylenol, thinking the child has the flu or an allergic reaction to a new food they tried. Without confirming a measles diagnosis, a child can quickly develop pneumonia and die, whereas a prompt diagnosis and prescription for antibiotics to treat infection could have prevented complications.

Pediatricians unfamiliar with measles may need a better understanding of the disease’s dangers and, therefore, not stress the importance of the vaccination to their patients’ parents. In failing to inform parents of the dangers, they may be contributing to parent hesitancy to give their children the MMR vaccination, thus, undermining the number one preventative measure. Failure to properly advise, diagnose and treat young patients are among the top reasons for medical malpractice in the nation. Medical malpractice occurs when medical professionals fail to live up to their profession’s accepted practice standards, resulting in injuries, complications, permanent disabilities, and sometimes, even fatalities.

Do You Have a Childhood Measles Lawsuit in NJ?

Whether pursuing a medical malpractice action for your child’s measles vaccine injuries, failure to diagnose measles, lack of treatment for measles, complications or side effects from measles, or their wrongful death, our well-versed pediatric malpractice attorneys can educate you the potential grounds for filing a lawsuit. We can also explore with you the possible compensation your family can receive for financial damages, health-related expenses, lost income while caring for your sick child, and your child’s pain and suffering. Confer with legal counsel in the infant and child malpractice field by contacting us at 866-708-8617 or requesting a free consultation via our website. Our lawyers are available to discuss New Jersey’s requirements to file an action for your damages and how we can assist you in this process.

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