Getting good healthcare for your kids is of paramount importance. While you read literature on how to keep them healthy and shop around for the best doctor, there are a few things you should know about diagnostic errors and how they can affect your child's health and well-being.
There are two major factors that contribute to delayed diagnosis. The first is a delay in seeking medical attention. This happens to everyone at some point, either because the issue does not appear to be serious or because other factors prevent a trip to the doctor. On the other side, it usually happens when a doctor fails to assess potential root causes. Usually, when a doctor is performing an initial evaluation, they will use clues from the symptoms, medical history and other factors to determine a list of likely possibilities. If that list is missing something, then a delay in diagnosis or testing is likely to occur. From a legal standpoint, doctors may be held liable for negligence if their action, or inaction, causes harm to a patient, and you can demonstrate that other doctors would not have made the same mistake.
Misdiagnosis is another major concern in pediatric care. According to a multistate survey published in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 54 percent of pediatricians admit to making at least 1-2 patient misdiagnoses per month, and at least 1-2 cases per year lead to patient harm. That is an alarming number. The most common errors occur when doctors fail to gather adequate information on symptoms and family history, through clerical errors and as a result of poor coordination between medical staff members. The most common mistakes are diagnosing viral infections as bacterial, missing medication side effects and misdiagnosing appendicitis. Some of these errors are not harmful to patients, but major errors do happen, with regularity, at every clinic and hospital in America, according to the AAP publication. In addition, some major diagnostic errors can have devastating consequences.
Protecting your child
When mistakes in diagnosis, testing or treatment occur, those errors put you and your family at risk and naturally, you want to take safety precautions. The first step is to seek medical care as soon as you have a problem. That gives doctors more time to find and treat issues before they become an emergency situation. The second step is to take an active participation in your child's medical diagnosis and treatment. It's better to give your doctor too much information than too little, and appropriate to ask your doctors to explain their rationale to you regarding medical decisions and treatment. Finally, accountability is vital. It's important to treat doctors fairly and let them do their best to help, but it is also important to hold them accountable for mistakes.
If you believe your child has suffered harm due to a doctor's negligence, consult with an attorney. At the law office of Alan D. Bell, we believe in holding doctors accountable for any harm they have caused. Contact 973-233-4294 to schedule a free initial consultation.