Complications from Pediatric Fever may be a Source of Malpractice Claims in NJ if the Child’s Fever is Misdiagnosed or Improperly Treated
No matter how many times they go through it, a parent caring for a sick child wonders when to take a baby, toddler, or child at any age to the doctor. While most low-grade fevers are manageable at home with pain relievers and fever reducers, some require a pediatrician or ER trip. The child’s age and the thermometer reading often dictate when that time comes, especially in very young children. The younger the child, the quicker a fever can turn into something worse, so even low-grade fevers may warrant a medical examination. If you hesitate to seek medical attention because you feel like an overreactive parent, you might want to know more about what constitutes a high fever and how to treat it. And if your pediatrician dismisses your fever concerns as overblown, you may want to know how misdiagnosed or untreated fever can lead to mild to severe complications. In addition to the health consequences for your child, misdiagnosis or failure to properly treat pediatric fever may constitute medical malpractice in certain situations. If you suspect this happened to you and your child in New Jersey, seek legal guidance from our experienced attorneys by contacting us at (866)-708-8617 for a free consultation.
What is Considered a Fever for a Child
First, defining a high fever varies with the child’s age. According to professionals in the medical community, a child under three months with a fever of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit should see a doctor. Babies that young have fewer immunological defenses and are vulnerable to severe illness. And infants six weeks or younger with a fever of 100.4 degrees need to see a doctor quickly, avoiding fever-reducing medications before a doctor visit so that the doctor can evaluate your child accurately. The most accurate measurement is a rectal reading.
After three months, a fever of 102.2 degrees should prompt you to call your doctor’s office for advice. For most older children, the thermometer is not the only measurement of serious illness. A child may have a fever of 102 but seem unaffected, playing, eating, and drinking normally. As long as they seem hydrated and comfortable, they can often wait it out until the fever passes. On the other hand, if your child has a persistent high fever of 104 degrees or higher, appears lethargic, is highly irritable, and crying constantly, medical professionals say you want to contact your pediatrician without delay. Persistent high fever may be more than the body fighting infection and suggest a more serious problem.
Possible Causes of Pediatric Fever
Fever with other symptoms, such as neck pain, vomiting, headache, light sensitivity, and rashes, might indicate many conditions. Your pediatrician may look for meningitis, roseola, common cold, flu, chickenpox, Fifth’s disease, or hand, foot, and mouth disease. In addition to viral conditions, bacterial infections, such as strep throat, pneumonia, and infections of the bladder or sinuses, or ear infections, can cause a high fever. The diagnosis and treatment depend on which symptoms accompany the high fever, how long it lasts, the child’s age, and medical history. Most colds and flu cases come with fevers that last up to five days, but seeking medical advice is critical, especially if your child’s fever lasts for five days or more.
Complications from Fevers in Infants and Children
While pediatricians see many children with high fevers that require no more than home treatment, including over-the-counter medication, cold compresses, or cool baths, high fevers that do not respond to home treatment need professional attention. Additionally, cases of flu accompanied by body aches and fever may not require emergency treatment but early treatment to prevent prolonged suffering, complications, and infecting others.
However, high fevers with or without other symptoms can cause complications in children under five. They can suffer convulsions and persistent infections that turn deadly. Though some febrile seizures are harmless, they can lead to brain damage if they last too long, though rare. And children with immunocompromised systems are especially at risk for high fevers that can worsen conditions.
Negligence Misdiagnosing and Treating Childhood Fevers
Unfortunately, pediatricians who face hordes of new mothers fretting over their babies’ fevers over the years can become jaded and insufficiently cautious. Without realizing it, they may cause parents rushing their children to ER rooms or pediatric offices to feel embarrassed for being overly frightened. As a result, they may hesitate to bring their children in for high fevers, leading to devastating consequences.
Moreover, misdiagnoses are one of the most common pediatric errors. For example, dismissing high fever as signs of the flu or cold and prescribing medication can lead to a tragic missed opportunity for early treatment of meningitis. Without early diagnosis and treatment, meningitis can cause brain and spinal cord inflammation resulting in brain damage, cognitive deficiencies, and hearing loss for the rest of the child’s life. A misdiagnosis can very readily occur since meningitis and the flu share similar symptoms, such as body aches, fever, headache, fatigue, and vomiting. With careful follow-up, a pediatrician may hear a parent report other symptoms that distinguish the flu from meningitis, such as neck stiffness and rashes.
Other errors that can harm a child involve medication allergies. Pediatricians who prescribe antibiotics without referring to a child’s listed allergies or testing can cause itchiness from hives or a rash on the mild end of the spectrum to swelling and difficulty breathing on the other end. To prevent serious harm to children with high fevers, an emergency room doctor, family medicine physician, or other doctor must run the appropriate tests to accurately diagnose a child’s condition and ensure the medication prescribed is suitable for the patient, especially babies and toddlers with developing immune systems.
Seek Legal Guidance for Child Fever Malpractice in New Jersey
When a medical provider acts carelessly and causes your child long-lasting harm, you can experience so many emotions, fear, guilt, betrayal, and anger. Understanding that your pediatrician must live up to the professional standards and duties owed to your baby or child means you may seek to redress the wrong they suffered and seek damages for the emotional and financial costs of their injuries. Further, getting legal advice may allow you to focus on, and find relief in, pursuing compensation for your child’s medical, therapeutic, and psychological needs now and in the future.
Our skilled pediatric malpractice attorneys, who have handled numerous injury cases on behalf of babies and children can inform, advise, negotiate, and litigate your child’s case for compensation after being injured by high fever malpractice. Contact our New Jersey legal team to evaluate your child’s case free of charge. Call (866)-708-8617 today.