Most Common Serious Medical Error Suffered by Young Patients

child patient pixlr

Parents understandably worry greatly when their young children are sick or severely injured. Just imagine the anguish when their children suffer serious harm – or much worse – from medical mistakes made by the very people who are supposed to be helping them.

Misdiagnosis is one of the most frequent medical mistakes made by healthcare professionals.  It also is among the most serious.  Coverys, an insurance company providing medical malpractice insurance to doctors, in March reported it found misdiagnoses in 46 percent of medical malpractice lawsuits between 2013 and 2017.  And in nearly half of those medical malpractice lawsuits for misdiagnosis, the patient died.

Children Suffering From a Medical Misdiagnosis

A different report, also released in March, found that medical misdiagnosis was also the leading cause of medical malpractice lawsuits involving harm to young patients.

The research (“Study of Malpractice Claims Involving Children”) was conducted by The Doctors Company, another provider of medical malpractice insurance.  It reviewed over 1,200 medical malpractice lawsuits filed on behalf of pediatric patients between 2008 and 2017. Researchers broke out the lawsuits into four age-based groups:

·         Patients less than one month old

·         Patients one month to 11 months old

·         Patients one to nine years old

·         Patients 10 to 17 years old

Misdiagnosing a medical condition was the leading overall cause for the medical malpractice lawsuits. It was the second leading medical error specifically involving babies less than one month old.

And the consequences suffered by the patients and their families were often devastating. The death of the patient was a common outcome of the medical mistake; 30 percent of the patients in the second age group (one to 11 months old) died.  Three-quarters of the youngest age group suffered “high-severity” injuries.

The study also pinpointed reasons why medical errors were made when treating young patients.

Pediatric Patient Assessment Errors Made by Doctors

Patient assessment was the number one reason for all age groups except for the youngest.  Examples of patient assessment mistakes leading to a misdiagnosis cited were:

·         Key information not collected or included when making a diagnosis

·         Failure to order or a delay in ordering diagnostic tests

·         Relying too much on negative test results even though patient symptoms continued

Miscommunication between doctors, and between doctors and patients and their families, was another top cause for the pediatric treatment mistakes. It was cited in up to 22 percent of the medical malpractice claims, depending upon the age group. The study highlighted the need for doctors and nurses to heed parents’ concerns over their children’s’ conditions following pediatric surgery.

Regardless of age group, the number one harm suffered for the patients was a serious brain injury.

Providing medical treatment to children can be challenging.  Young children and infants especially, given their inability to adequately express what they are feeling.  But these challenges should always be factored in by medical professionals so key factors are not missed or overlooked.

If a child of yours was a victim of a misdiagnosis or some other serious medical error, review your case with a medical malpractice attorney experienced in dealing with these unimaginable catastrophes.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog April 10, 2019


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