Having a child get severely injured or killed is every parent’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, accidents can happen anywhere and everywhere, so the risk is always present. Even worse, far too many children are impacted each year by the negligence of medical professionals.
From pediatricians to surgeons, the number of documented cases of medical malpractice involving children is countless.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has indicated that nearly one-third of pediatricians will face a lawsuit at some point during their medical careers. That is a whole lot of doctors and a whole lot of children who are paying the consequences for their negligence.
Since these minors are not able to seek justice for themselves, it is important for parents to understand the necessary steps that should be taken in order to file medical malpractice lawsuits on behalf of their children.
The Most Common Causes of Pediatric Medical Malpractice
There are several specific medical conditions that are most frequently associated with instances of medical malpractice involving children.
Appendicitis is a painful medical emergency that requires surgical removal of the appendix, and it most commonly misdiagnosed in infants and female patients. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 27 percent of infants who are suffering from appendicitis are misdiagnosed and fail to receive the necessary treatment. Additionally, female patients are frequently misdiagnosed because the condition mimics many of the same symptoms as a urinary tract infection or pelvic inflammatory disease. When appendicitis is not treated promptly and correctly, it can be fatal.
Meningitis occurs when there is inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. In the United States, it is the most common condition connected to pediatric medical malpractice. Since meningitis can be difficult for doctors and physicians to diagnose, children (especially infants) can suffer from irreversible consequences when they fail to receive the proper treatment in a timely manner. When patients do not receive the necessary treatment for meningitis, it can result in hearing loss, brain damage, kidney failure, seizures, or death.
Medication errors account for more than 5 percent of the pediatric medical malpractice cases in the United States. Negligence can occur when the wrong medication is ordered, the dosage on the prescription is incorrect, or the pharmacy dispenses an incorrect medication. Medication errors can result in a condition getting worse, the development of new health complications, and even death.
Other Factors Involved in Pediatric Medical Malpractice
While it may streamline things to identify the top three causes of pediatric medical malpractice, the opportunity for risk exists in every aspect of the medical field. There are negligent decisions made during the childbirth process that can result in spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, permanent nerve damage, and more. Negligence can also occur in any operating room, whether it is a minor outpatient procedure or a major surgery.
As much as you research the best doctors and try to choose the best healthcare for your children, the possibility of medical malpractice still exists.
What to Do When Your Child is a Victim of Medical Malpractice
If your child has suffered severe injuries or died because of medical malpractice, your first step should be to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you make sure your case meets all of the necessary requirements.
In order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of your child, you must be able to prove that negligence of some sort did in fact take place. Whether important diagnostic tests were never administered or your child was not properly monitored during a procedure, anything below the accepted medical standard of care counts as negligence. Additionally, you must also be able to prove that the injury your child experienced was a direct result of negligence – not from an existing sickness, injury, or other unrelated cause.
Lastly, it is important to keep the statute of limitations in mind. In most cases in the state of Pennsylvania, you, as a parent, have two years from the time that the injury was discovered to take legal action on behalf of your child. The state allows for additional time for the injured child to take legal action by himself or herself. In those cases, the two-year statute of limitations does not begin until the child reaches 18 years of age, which means, depending on the circumstances, a lawsuit may be filed up to the patient’s 20th birthday.
Ross Feller Casey has a remarkable record of winning large, multi-million-dollar recoveries in medical malpractice cases involving newborns to teens. For example, the firm successfully represented the parents of a 17-year-old girl who died after undergoing a routine tonsillectomy because she was not properly monitored after her surgery. Our attorneys have also obtained landmark victories for the parents of children who suffered neurological injuries at birth as a result of medical malpractice.
For professional assistance in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of your child, contact the team at Ross Feller Casey for a free evaluation of your case.