Taking Legal Action Against A Pediatrician For Medical Malpractice
Like any other doctor, a child's doctor may be sued for malpractice. Parents should be aware of the following legal concerns.
Parents are very protective of their children, particularly when they are sick. So, if a doctor entrusted with their care does injury to a kid, a physician may expect a scathing letter from an enraged parent, if not a legal notice.
Before "lawyering up," parents should think about the following legal considerations. We'll go through some of the most prevalent forms of pediatric malpractice claims before going into the legal components of filing a malpractice complaint.
Misconduct in Children
At least when it comes to charges of misconduct, pediatric malpractice is a reasonably typical kind of medical negligence. According to studies conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), over a third of all physicians will be sued at some time during their employment. Medical malpractice cases against pediatricians tend to be more expensive to defend than lawsuits against most other specialties because of the severe damage that may occur from pediatric errors.
Meningitis is the most common kind of malpractice claim in children
The most prevalent condition linked to pediatric malpractice claims in the United States, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, is meningitis. Because meningitis is difficult to detect in pediatric settings, it generates a disproportionately large number of malpractice cases.
When a newborn shows early signs of meningitis, but a physician misreads the symptoms and fails to make a right first diagnosis in a timely manner, a lawsuit regarding meningitis may arise. As the meningitis progresses, the child's health deteriorates, and the injury may become irreparable before the physician can evaluate the newborn again.
Appendicitis is misdiagnosed in 27% of newborns, according to the AAP. Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease or urinary tract infection are often misdiagnosed in female patients.
Appendicitis instances are often caused by a failure to correctly identify the condition, similar to meningitis cases. When the right therapy is not provided, the sickness progresses to a level where it is much more difficult to entirely reverse, even when it is recognized.
Errors in medication
More than 5% of all pediatric malpractice lawsuits are of this kind. There are four types of errors that may occur:
- Putting together (56 percent of errors)
- (incorrect medication, dosage, timing, or approach) (34 percent of errors)
- Whether it's transcribing (which has a 6% mistake rate) or dispensing (which has a 12% (4 percent of errors)
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors are responsible for 69 percent of pharmaceutical mistakes, nurses for 13%, and pharmacists for 8%.
The Lawsuit Against Professional Malpractice
The majority of medical malpractice claims, particularly those involving pediatric carelessness, are centered on two key elements:
- A health care provider's (i.e. a pediatrician's) carelessness and the damage produced by such negligence
When a pediatrician or other doctor fails to offer therapy that is at least as good as what most other physicians would have given in comparable circumstances, he or she is acting negligently. Patients must show two criteria to establish negligence in medical malpractice lawsuits:
- The doctor's failure to satisfy (breach) the established standard of care
From case to case, the "standard of care" differs. In situations of pediatric malpractice, a doctor or hospital may be required to:
- Identify meningitis, appendicitis, or pneumonia in a baby as soon as symptoms appear, or provide the right treatment at the right time (and at the proper time)
Expert testimony is needed in the great majority of instances to establish the standard of care. The patient's parent or guardian consults an expert witness (typically via a medical malpractice attorney) on the level of treatment that most pediatricians would have given in comparable circumstances. The qualified expert will provide a judgment on what a reasonably trained and competent doctor would have done in the same circumstances as the claimed negligence.
Establishing the violation of the standard of care is the next stage, which entails demonstrating the doctor's or hospital's negligence. This phase also entails the use of expert evidence to illustrate how the pediatrician's actions in this instance fell short of the standard of care.
Failure to diagnose meningitis within 12 hours after the onset of symptoms, for example, would be considered a violation of the standard of care (and therefore also amount to negligence).
Demonstrating the Negligence's Harm
A patient must show that the doctor's conduct resulted in foreseeable injury in order to win a pediatric malpractice claim. This injury may manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as:
- Costs of previous and future medical care, as well as pain and suffering
The key question is whether the injury was caused by the carelessness. Proving that a patient was harmed as a result of a mistake is inadequate. A misdiagnosis, for example, is one thing, but the condition of a kid may deteriorate as a result. The key, however, is demonstrating how the kid was affected as a result of the mistake — in other words, what suffering and losses might have been prevented if the physician had detected and treated the problem promptly and competently? Again, here is where the evidence of a knowledgeable expert will be useful.