Pediatricians are highly trained professionals, but they can make a mistake like anyone else. In fact, “Since 1989 the American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Survey of Fellows has consistently found that nearly one third of all pediatricians will be sued during their careers,” according to a group of researchers who studied the diagnoses that prompted lawsuits between 1985 and 2006.
“If pediatricians are knowledgeable about the medical conditions that have produced successful malpractice suits, they can institute risk-management techniques that can be effective for both improving patient safety and reducing risk of liability,” they stated.
Most Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions in Pediatrics
- Meningitis. According to the study, 12 percent of malpractice claims cited altered medical records, such as in the case Chris Mellino litigated against Mt. Sinai Medical Center, or failure to note pertinent information on those records. Additionally, “Communication issues … allegedly contributed to the delay in diagnosis because of poor communication between providers, failure to inform of critical test results, failure to provide the consultant with a complete account of medical findings to date, and failure to provide the patient with clear follow-up instructions.”
- Appendicitis, which is “frequently misdiagnosed” as pelvic inflammatory disease or urinary tract infections in teenage girls.
- Nonteratogenic anomalies/congenital anomalies of the genitals. “Claims for nonteratogenic anomalies are usually a result of a failure to diagnose (>50 percent of claims) rather than failure to refer [the patient to a specialist] (3 percent of claims),” the study stated.
- “Virtually any medical scenario in which an infant or child has sustained brain damage is highly likely to result in a lawsuit,” the researchers stated. “Examples include head injury from a fall after an abrupt vaginal delivery, profound developmental delay from inadequate hydration of a dehydrated newborn, and developmental delay and cerebral palsy secondary to failure to timely diagnose and treat hypoglycemia.”
- Medication mistakes related to ordering, administering, transcribing, and dispensing, particularly with regard to allergy and respiratory medications as well as anti-convulsants. Fourteen percent of those claims resulted when doctors (69 percent of the time), nurses (13 percent), and pharmacists (8 percent) neglected to ask about drug allergies, didn’t refer to the medical chart, or failed to re-ask about allergies that may have developed since the last time the chart was updated. Incorrect dose, wrong drug, and failure to monitor adverse side effects accounted for 37 percent of medication-related malpractice claims.
Regardless of what went wrong, children have to endure the effects of the pediatrician’s negligence, and parents have to watch helplessly. If you suspect that your child’s doctor made a mistake, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office with any questions you may have. You may also download or request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a malpractice claim in Ohio.