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It’s no secret that parents are usually extremely protective of their children, especially when they are experiencing medical complications. This period can be daunting and overwhelming because of all the emotional stress. That said, things become considerably worse when your child is caused harm by the very doctor who you entrusted to treat them. According to recent research carried out by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), pediatric malpractice is a common phenomenon in the United States. This is highly worrying since numerous reports suggest that medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. today.
Pediatric malpractice usually results in complications and trauma for your child. Therefore, if your child is a victim of this unfortunate experience, seek compensation in damages. To do this, hire an experienced pediatric malpractice attorney to guide you through the process. Below is a brief elucidation of everything you need to know about pediatric malpractice and how you can successfully acquire compensation.
What Is Pediatric Malpractice?
Pediatric malpractice is a type of medical negligence whereby a pediatrician fails to provide the required care to a child patient in accordance with the known and accepted medical norms and practices. Consequently, the child ends up experiencing severe injuries or even death. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) opines that approximately one-third of all pediatricians will be sued for pediatric malpractice at least once during their careers.
According to experts, some of the common causes of pediatric malpractice include the following:
- Misdiagnosis: According to various reports, misdiagnosis is the leading cause of pediatric malpractice. This is because pediatricians usually treat infants and other children who are quite incapable of properly articulating their symptoms, making it difficult for pediatricians to make a proper diagnosis.
- Childbirth injuries: A recent study suggests that neonates are the most high-risk group when it comes to pediatric malpractice. Caring for neonates can be quite frustrating since their bodies are extremely vulnerable to harm. This is why it is highly fundamental for physicians to handle them with care. Some of the common childbirth injuries caused by pediatric malpractice include; poor prenatal care, delaying for a long while before cutting the umbilical cord, improper administration of pregnancy-related medications, and failure to treat or recognize a distressed fetus.
- Medication errors: Medication errors tend to arise once a physician makes a misdiagnosis. Similarly, they may occur out of mere negligence whereby a physician prescribes the wrong dosage of a medication resulting in severe and harmful side effects. In addition, failure to complete a patient’s medical history may lead to doctors exposing children to drugs that they are allergic to, resulting in extreme sickness and, in some cases, death.
Types of Pediatric Malpractice Claims
Some of the most common types of pediatric malpractice claims include the following:
- Meningitis: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, meningitis is the most common illness associated with pediatric malpractice in the United States. Most pediatric malpractice lawsuits revolve around meningitis, since it is an extremely difficult disease to diagnose in children.
- Appendicitis: The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that approximately 27% of infants with appendicitis are usually misdiagnosed. Female infants tend to be more susceptible to this misdiagnosis since they experience symptoms that are difficult to discover in infants- such as urinary tract infection and pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Medication errors: More than five percent of pediatric malpractice lawsuits are usually caused by medication errors. These cases typically occur when a physician prescribes the wrong dose of medication or when a pharmacist misreads a doctor’s prescription and offers patients the wrong medication.
How Do You Prove Pediatric Malpractice?
The truth is that proving pediatric malpractice can be quite complicated. That is why it is fundamental for you to hire a skilled pediatric malpractice attorney to help you navigate the process. According to the law, the core elements that you have to prove in a pediatric malpractice suit are:
- That the pediatrician owed your child a professional duty of care.
- That the pediatrician breached the duty of care.
- Causation – You should prove that the defendant’s actions led to the harm suffered.
- Damages – That as a result of the injuries, your child is owed compensation.
The duty of care tends to vary from one case to the other. However, in pediatric malpractice cases, the pediatrician owes their child a duty of care to ensure that they accurately diagnose the disease and provide the proper medication and dosage for the said health condition. Therefore, a breach of this duty usually occurs when pediatricians fail to do this, thereby causing harm and even death to their patients.
Certificate of Merit
Like other medical malpractice lawsuits, a pediatric malpractice lawsuit requires you to file a written certificate of merit alongside the suit. This can either be done immediately or within 90 days of filing the claim. The certificate is extremely fundamental since it states that you have carefully reviewed the facts with the help of a licensed physician and are completely satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for you to file a pediatric malpractice suit.
Damages for a Pediatric Malpractice Lawsuit
Damages basically entail the total compensation that the defendant owes a plaintiff. According to various experts, the damages in pediatric malpractice cases are among the highest in medical negligence cases. This is attributed to the fact that the victims- who are incredibly young- are usually forced to deal with the high cost of medical expenses resulting from their injuries, and they may even be unable to earn an income for the rest of their lives. That said, damages can be divided into three major categories; economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Also known as special damages, economic damages are usually intended to compensate the injured child and their family for all the financial losses they have suffered. Similarly, economic damages also cater to any future financial losses the family is bound to experience.
In a pediatric malpractice case, economic damages include the following:
- Medical bills: All the medical expenses spent on treating the child’s injuries, including the future medical expenses that the family is bound to spend.
Life-long care expenses: All the money that will be spent on nurses, medical devices, and household aids.
- Rehabilitative treatment: This involves all the expenses you will spend on various rehabilitative programs such as speech therapy, physical therapy, and other measures that will help improve the child’s condition.
- Lost income: This simply entails the loss of earning power in situations where medical malpractice has robbed the child of the ability to pursue a career due to numerous medical complications such as developmental delays.
Besides the financial losses incurred, it is also fundamental for the court to consider other aspects such as the pain and suffering that the child and their family have experienced due to medical negligence. Pain and suffering can either be physical or mental.
Physical pain and suffering entail the physical pain and discomfort that the child has been experiencing due to the injuries. On the other hand, mental pain and suffering involve all the emotional distress that the child may be experiencing. For example, they experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety.
Unlike economic damages aimed at compensation, the main aim of punitive damages is to punish the hospital or physician for the medical negligence that resulted in the child’s injuries. It is fundamental to note that punitive damages do not always apply in all cases. The most common grounds for punitive damages include failure to obtain a parent’s or guardian’s consent.
If your child is a victim of pediatric malpractice, do not hesitate to file a malpractice lawsuit. In order to do this successfully, it is essential for you to hire a skilled pediatric malpractice attorney who will effectively handle your case and ensure that your child is compensated for all the injuries and suffering they have experienced.
At Weltchek Mallahan and Weltchek, we have attorneys who are well versed with medical malpractice cases, including pediatric malpractice. Therefore, in the competent hands of our lawyers, you can be certain of nothing but the very best services. That said, do not hesitate to contact us today and learn more about pediatric malpractice. Similarly, call us at (410) 825-5287 to book an appointment with us today!
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