Misdiagnosis cited for medical malpractice involving children

A foundation of proper Ohio medical care is correctly diagnosing of sickness or injuries. However, misdiagnosis is the main cause for medical malpractice lawsuits involving patients who were children, according to a recent study.

The top malpractice claim involving children from one month to 17-years-old was blamed on a missed, failed or incorrect diagnosis which was largely based on an inadequate medical assessment. This was also the second most prevalent allegation in cases involving infants who were less than one month old.

The study was undertaken by the Doctors Company which is then nation's largest physician-owned medical malpractice carrier. The study involved 1,215 claims against physicians in 52 specialties and subspecialties that were closed from 2008 through 2017. Its focus was on four age groups comprised of infants under one month old, children from one to 11 months, children from 1 to 9 years and teenagers from 10 through 17-years-old.

The report indicated the need for practitioners to give detailed explanations to parents on symptoms that require immediate care when the child is sent home. Poor communication between doctors and the patient or their family, for example, played a role in 15 to 22 percent of claims depending on the child's age.

Practitioners should pay attention to language and cultural differences when giving these explanations. A pediatrician said that the study underlines the need for improving measures to effectively communicate in writing and verbally with patients about follow-up visits, warning signs that should be acted upon immediately and referrals to other specialists.

In the reviewed claims, the brain was the most commonly-injured body part among the juvenile age groups. The study also found that the perinatal period, the period immediately before or after birth, also requires closer review because this period has claims that are more common, more severe injuries and higher paid legal compensation.

Legal representation may help victims of medical negligence and their families seek compensation. A personal injury attorney can help obtain evidence and expert testimony to support valid claims.

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