Top 7 Medical Misdiagnosis Affecting Children

As parents, we instinctively protect our children. To have a trusted professional bring pain and suffering to our children through medical misdiagnosis issues, is a compounding tragedy no parent should endure

Medical misdiagnosis or medical missed diagnosis (ignoring a latent condition) are two aspects of a larger problem of malpractice among medical professionals. Pediatric doctors usually work valiantly to provide excellent care for patients who often cannot help with their own treatment. Infants and toddlers present with symptoms but no ability to convey their complaints; the doctors have to tease out the source of suffering using analytical skills and differential diagnosis. When a child suffers from a misdiagnosis, a bright future can become dimmer; a promising life can become a lifetime of struggle.

Aspects of Medical Misdiagnosis Issues

Children can suffer from the consequences of many types of medical misdiagnosis. While physical development comes to mind most often, other spheres of the medical professionals’ practices can forever change a child:

Doctors succumb to trends, too, as with the surge in misdiagnoses of bipolar disorder in children. Stuart Kaplan, M.D., warned about this in a major article in Newsweek.

Top Medical Misdiagnosis Issues

The American Association of Pediatrics’ publication 1 showed an 80.1 percent missed diagnosis rate for fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), with an additional 6.4 percent medical misdiagnosis rate. Certainly few parents and children face the debilitating effects of FASD, but other medical misdiagnoses issues are common, according to another study in the same publication:

  1. Viral illness—When a pediatrician makes a misdiagnosis of bacterial illness when the source is viral, the child may receive unnecessary antibiotics; this carries the risk of reactions to the antibiotics leading to temporary or permanent side effects such as rashes, diarrhea, stomach pains and allergic reactions.
  2. Psychiatric disorders—Pediatricians themselves reported in the study that they often made a medical misdiagnosis by overlooking symptoms of psychiatric disorders; though our culture may be too hasty to ascribe trending syndromes (ADHD).
  3. Appendicitis—Pediatricians have come to realize there are few “classic” symptoms for an infection of the appendix, so the differential diagnosis becomes harder. Not all appendicitis patients present with lower abdominal tenderness and other recognizable signs; misdiagnosis often confused this issue with an upper respiratory infection.
  4. Medication side effects—A worried parent brings a sick child to a pediatrician, who does not probe sufficiently to uncover prescription medicine that could cause presenting symptoms. One issue exacerbates the other until the child may suffer permanent, debilitating problems requiring a lifetime of medical care.

Not Alone

The pediatrician is not alone in bearing responsibility for medical misdiagnosis. Many errors come from systemic problems, such as:

  1. Inadequate record-keeping
  2. Poor communication among specialists
  3. Equipment problems

Misdiagnosis is weighed first by the effect the misdiagnosis has on the child. A child who gets a course of antibiotics for what was actually a viral infection may suffer no ill effects; this may be a wrong diagnosis but bears few legal consequences. On the other hand, a medical misdiagnosis may require legal intervention under two conditions:

  • A doctor fails to consider or make a diagnosis that another, similarly skilled medical professional would have included in a differential diagnosis under the same circumstances
  • A doctor includes the correct diagnosis when differentiating, but fails to test for it or investigate the possibility further, hastening to what turns out to be a misdiagnosis

Ginsburg & Associates has experience helping parents and their children secure legal remedies for misdiagnosis. Our skilled attorneys can help preserve your rights, safeguard the future for the victim, and recover financial awards to provide for the past and future medical expenses. Contact Ginsburg & Associates today.