New Jersey Failure to Diagnose Child Heart Failure Attorneys
Representing Victims of Delayed Pediatric Heart Failure Diagnosis
It is essential for a child’s development that their heart functions properly. The role of the heart is to pump blood throughout the body, providing necessary oxygen and nutrients for a child to grow. When a child’s heart does not function appropriately, this is often called heart failure. Although the term sounds like a death sentence, this is not necessarily so. Heart failure does not mean that the heart is not functioning at all, only that it needs to function better. While you may associate heart failure with adults, it can also manifest in babies, toddlers, and children at all stages of growth. When a child suffers from heart failure, it is absolutely imperative for doctors to diagnose and immediately initiate treatment to repair the underlying cause and quite possibly, to save the child’s life. Failure to diagnose or treat heart failure can be fatal and in any case, this unconscionable error may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. As the caregiver of a child who suffered harm as a result of delayed heart failure diagnosis, you have viable legal options to pursue damages for your child’s current and long-term needs. Contact our experienced pediatric malpractice attorneys today at (866)-708-8617 for a free consultation.
Causes of Heart Failure in Children
A child may experience heart failure at some point from infancy to adolescence for one of two reasons: a congenital heart defect or damage to heart that impairs normal function. The first potential cause of heart failure, known as overcirculation failure, occurs when a congenital heart defect leads to an overload of blood flow in some part of the heart and commingling of the oxygen-poor and oxygen-rich blood. In order for the heart to work effectively, it needs to receive blood containing depleted oxygen, send it to the lungs for oxygenation, and then pump the oxygen-full blood to the rest of the body. If the structure of the heart is abnormal at birth, this may lead to heart failure. Some of the various types of congenital heart defects include:
- A hole between the right and left chambers of the heart
- A defect of blood vessels in the head or another part of the body
- An abnormal heart valve: if the valve does not securely close, the blood may leak back into the heart
The second potential cause of heart failure in children occurs when the heart suffers damage and fails to “pump” or contract effectively. This is known as pump failure. Notably, pump failure is developed condition that changes an otherwise normal heart into an abnormal one. There are a variety of things that may cause pump failure. For example, a viral infection may damage the heart muscle or coronary arteries. Some examples of infections that may damage the heart include endocarditis and rheumatic fever. Issues with the coronary arteries such as coronary artery disease may also progress into heart failure if not identified or treated when a child is born.
Irregular heartbeats, known as cardiac arrhythmias, may also lead to blood flow interruptions that damage the heart. Cardiomyopathy and other diseases of the heart muscle, as well as diseases of the coronary arteries like Kawasaki’s disease, may cause heart failure. Another possible cause is inflammation of heart muscle, known as myocarditis. In addition, some medications, such as those used to treat pediatric cancer, may cause heart damage. In very few cases, trauma to the chest will lead to heart muscle damage. Lastly, muscular dystrophy may result in issues that impair the heart’s ability to function normally.
Symptoms of Child Heart Failure
If your child suffers from heart failure, their age and the underlying cause of the condition will influence the symptoms you observe. Some signs and symptoms of heart failure in children include:
- Difficulty breathing or labored breathing
- Cough or congestion in the lungs
- Excessive sweating
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart beat
- Poor feeding
- Failure to gain weight
- Lack of growth or delayed growth
How is Pediatric Heart Failure Diagnosed?
Failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis or congestive heart failure in children is common because the symptoms often mirror those of other conditions. For example, doctors may misdiagnose pediatric heart failure as pneumonia, colic, or another respiratory infection. If your child shows signs of a heart problem, doctors must thoroughly investigate all potential causes to rule out heart disease or damage. Some diagnostic tools that may be used to confirm a heart failure diagnosis are:
- Blood tests
- Chest x-ray
- Electrocardiogram (EKG): records the electrical activity of the heart
- Echocardiogram: ultrasound of the heart
- Exercise stress test (for children over 4 years of age)
- Heart catheterization study
If your child’s doctor suspects heart failure, they may refer you to specialist with a depth of knowledge in the various causes and treatments for pediatric heart problems. Failure to recognize the symptoms of heart failure, delayed diagnosis, or failure to refer your child to a specialist may cause serious injury if not death.
Is Your Child the Victim of Heart Failure Misdiagnosis in New Jersey?
If medical negligence involving heart failure resulted in harm to your child, it is crucial to speak with a pediatric heart failure malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Our lawyers concentrate on rare medical malpractice cases involving children. We represent victims in New Jersey and New York as consult on these complex cases across the United States. To discuss your child’s specific heart failure case, contact us by phone at (866)-708-8617 or reach out online for a free consultation. Our legal team is available to answer your questions.