Medical Misdiagnosis in Children

When a Doctor Misdiagnoses Your Child’s Medical Condition

Babies and young children simply can’t explain their symptoms if they are sick. As a parent, it can be very difficult to pinpoint what’s wrong even when your child tells you their symptoms. “I have a tummy ache” or “my head hurts” can mean innumerable things, which is why we count on doctors to recognize symptoms, make an accurate diagnosis, and carry out an effective treatment plan. Unfortunately, your child’s doctor may not fulfill this duty of care. In fact, medical misdiagnosis is among the most common forms of malpractice among pediatricians and other doctors providing care for infants and children. The tragedy often comes when the child is left with the burden of complications caused by pediatric misdiagnosis, which can haunt them for the rest of their life.

Medical Misdiagnosis in Infants and Children

Medical misdiagnosis is a massive issue confronting the medical community as whole; however, it is especially problematic when the victims are children. A study surveying pediatricians showed a staggering amount of misdiagnosis. Among the pediatricians who provided self-reported data, 54 percent said they made a diagnostic error at least once or twice per month. In addition, 45 percent reported diagnostic errors that harmed patients at least once or twice per year.

What Causes Pediatric Misdiagnosis?

According to the pediatricians in the study sample, the primary reasons for medical misdiagnosis in pediatrics include:

  • Failure to conduct a thorough medical history
  • Failure to complete a comprehensive physical examination
  • Failure to thoroughly review a child’s chart
  • Failure to follow-up on abnormal diagnostic tests
  • Inadequate care coordination among primary doctors, specialists, and others who may be involved in diagnosis and treatment

Common Conditions Misdiagnosed by Pediatricians

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), meningitis and appendicitis are the leading misdiagnosed conditions in children and infants in the United States. In the aforementioned study, doctors misdiagnosing viral illnesses as bacterial infections was the most-commonly reported diagnostic error. The other forms of misdiagnosis reported most often involved medication side effects, psychiatric disorders, and appendicitis.

Frequently Misdiagnosed Symptoms in Children

There are many symptoms among children that may be associated with a vast array of illnesses and conditions. Some of the most common symptoms that lead to medical misdiagnosis in pediatrics include:

  • Stomachache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore Throat
  • Cough
  • Breathing problems
  • Skin rashes
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle or joint aches

It is the doctor’s responsibility to listen to you as the parent, conduct a thorough examination, review your child’s medical history, and run appropriate tests to confirm or rule-out potential diagnoses. Failure to do so constitutes medical negligence and may lead to misdiagnosis.

Potential Results of Pediatric Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosing a child’s medical condition can be extremely dangerous, causing long-term complications and even death. For example, misdiagnosis of meningitis can lead to irreversible brain damage resulting in cognitive impairments, developmental delays, difficulties with motor skills, and more. Likewise, appendicitis misdiagnosis can result in a burst appendix that spills toxic fluid into the abdomen. In infants, newborn respiratory distress syndrome can lead to hypoxic brain injuries, cardiac arrest, and death if doctors misdiagnose this life-threatening condition. Similarly, misdiagnosis of congenital heart defects, heart disease, or heart failure can be fatal. Pediatric pneumonia is yet another highly common illness that doctors fail to accurately diagnose. In fact, children of all ages may be adversely affected by wrongly diagnosed pneumonia. Medical malpractice with a child’s influenza (the flu) also has the potential to result in severe complications, hospitalization, and may even lead to death.

Was Your Child the Victim of Pediatric Misdiagnosis in the New Jersey Area?

The causes and conditions involved with pediatric misdiagnosis are manifold. What matters most is that your child should never have had to suffer the consequences of a doctor’s negligent medical care. To trust them with your child and be forced to watch the pain and suffering caused by medical misdiagnosis can be excruciating. Our attorneys can take the burden of pursuing justice off your shoulders and fight this battle while you focus on your family. Simply contact us today online or by phone at (866)-708-8617 to find answers and advocacy. The consultation is always free and so is the representation until we obtain you a recovery. 

Our legal team serves New Jersey and New York from offices in Newark, NJ and Manhattan, NY. If your child’s case arose in Paramus, Woodbridge, New Brunswick, Newark, Lakewood, Elizabeth, or elsewhere in the tristate area, we can help. We also consult on pediatric misdiagnosis cases across the United States.

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  • How do I know if my child has a pediatric malpractice case?

    If your child suffered an injury, complications, or a medical condition resulting from medical negligence, you may have grounds for a pediatric malpractice or birth injury lawsuit. Learn more.

  • How can I get help to pay for my child's medical bills?

    If a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare provider failed to provide adequate care for your child and they suffered harm, you can pursue compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more. Find out about damages.

  • How long do I have to file a pediatric malpractice claim?

    The statute of limitations to file a medical malpractice lawsuit varies from state to state. The time limits may begin when your child's condition is identified, not necessarily when it occurred. Contact us for information that applies to your child's specific case.

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