Can You Bring a Medical Malpractice Claim Against a Pediatrician?

Written by Atlee Hall

As a parent, you place immense trust in pediatricians to provide the best possible care for your child. However, even the most dedicated professionals can make mistakes.

If you believe that a pediatrician’s negligence harmed your child, you may wonder about your legal options. Here’s what you need to know about pediatric malpractice and a possible lawsuit.

Common Types of Pediatric Malpractice

Fortunately, pediatric malpractice claims are rare. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that only 3% of pediatricians face malpractice claims in any given year, which is low compared to other specialists such as neurosurgeons.

However, errors can still happen in almost any aspect of your child’s healthcare. One of the most common is the misdiagnosis of an illness or condition, which can lead to delayed treatment and the progression of your child’s disease. Here are the most frequently-seen errors involved in pediatric malpractice claims:

Misdiagnosis of Meningitis

An AAP report from March 2022 states that meningitis is the most frequently misdiagnosed condition resulting in medical errors among pediatricians. Meningitis is brain and spinal cord membrane inflammation typically caused by an infection. This condition can be tough to diagnose in pediatric settings due to the various possible symptoms. Bacterial meningitis is especially dangerous for children and must be treated quickly.

A definitive diagnosis of meningitis requires a spinal tap, which involves collecting and testing spinal fluid. This can be an uncomfortable procedure for kids that doctors may not be quick to order. If a pediatrician fails to read the symptoms and make the correct diagnosis early enough, a child can suffer permanent harm, such as brain damage and hearing loss.

Misdiagnosis of Appendicitis

The second most commonly misdiagnosed condition resulting in pediatric malpractice claims is appendicitis. Appendicitis occurs when the appendix becomes inflamed or infected. Female patients with appendicitis are more likely to be misdiagnosed. This is because symptoms can be wrongly attributed to pelvic inflammatory disease or a urinary tract infection.

If left untreated, the appendix can rupture and cause an abscess or sepsis. Much like bacterial meningitis, emergency treatment is critical. If the condition develops, it can pose a greater health risk to the child.

Misdiagnosis of Pneumonia

Pneumonia is another easily misdiagnosed condition among children since it shares symptoms with other respiratory diseases such as asthma and sinus infections. As with meningitis and appendicitis, untreated pneumonia can become life-threatening if it isn’t diagnosed and treated quickly.

Medication Errors

Misdiagnosis isn’t the only type of medical malpractice in child healthcare. Medication errors can be the fault of physicians, nurses, or pharmacies administering the medicine. Pediatric medication also comes with different challenges and risks compared to how medicine is given to adults. For example, the AAP highlights “multiple formulation options (e.g., various concentrations of liquid medicines) and weight-based dosing” as unique issues in pediatrics. If a doctor fails to follow the proper protocols for prescribing or administering your child’s medication, their negligence can lead to your child suffering.

Can You Bring a Medical Malpractice Claim on Behalf of Your Child?

Malpractice among pediatricians is less frequent compared to other specializations. However, a negligent pediatrician can and should be held accountable just like any doctor. You may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim on your child’s behalf. To do so successfully, you must prove all the elements of a medical malpractice claim.

Proving Pediatric Malpractice

There are four parts to pursuing a valid medical malpractice claim, which also apply to pediatric malpractice cases. They are:

  1. Duty of Care: You must show that your child was treated by the pediatrician who owed your child a duty of care.
  2. Breach of Standard of Care: You’ll have to prove the pediatrician deviated from the standard of care expected in similar situations. In other words, demonstrate how they didn’t meet Pennsylvania’s pediatric care standards.
  3. Causation: The pediatrician’s negligence must have directly caused harm to your child. Your case should show that, had the pediatrician acted differently, the harm could have been avoided.
  4. Damages: Your child must have suffered measurable damages due to the pediatrician’s negligence. Damages may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Possible Compensation in a Pediatric Malpractice Case

Children and babies are vulnerable and can’t speak up if something is wrong. Since they can’t help themselves, parents expect a stringent standard of care from pediatricians and other healthcare professionals caring for their kids.

You can’t put a price on the health and well-being of your child, but you may be able to pursue damages in a pediatric malpractice case. This could include compensation for medical bills, the cost of future medical treatment, and your family’s pain and suffering.

Did Your Child Suffer Pediatric Malpractice? Call Atlee Hall Today

Medical malpractice claims can be complex, especially if children are involved. Do you believe your child was harmed due to a pediatrician’s negligence? In that case, you need the help of an experienced attorney.

The medical malpractice attorneys of Atlee Hall know the ins and outs of Pennsylvania personal injury law, including the rights of victims of medical malpractice. Our team can evaluate the specifics of your case, gather evidence, and advocate for your interests throughout the process. We’re committed to helping families like yours seek justice and fair compensation.

Call today at (717) 393-9596 or complete our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation.