You take your child to the pediatrician because your child has not been feeling well. After an examination, your pediatrician says it's nothing and sends you back home. But after a few days, your child's symptoms worsen, and you start to worry that your pediatrician may have missed something.
Though most parents don't want to consider it, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians, over 400 pediatric malpractice claims are filed every year. Your child's pediatrician could make a mistake and, because of pediatric negligence, and cause permanent or temporary harm to your child.
It could have been an incorrect diagnosis, or the pediatrician may have missed your child’s injury entirely. Either way, you know that it shouldn't have happened, and you need to do something about it.
In unfortunate cases such as this, and for the safety of your child and others, it is important to know if you have grounds for legal action. Are you able to bring a malpractice or medical negligence case against the physician?
A pediatric malpractice lawsuit can take years to resolve, which makes hiring the right pediatric malpractice lawyer a critical decision. These are complicated issues and you should not try to make justice for yourself alone.
The information below is for parents who may have questions about their legal options if they suspect their pediatrician has committed medical malpractice and whether or not they can file a medical malpractice claim.
If you have questions or would like to speak to a pediatric malpractice lawyer for legal advice, let our family help yours. For three generations the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Firm has helped families when the unimaginable happens. Our experienced pediatric malpractice lawyers are skilled professionals who can help you navigate the complicated legalities involved with medical malpractice.
Call 212-869-3500 today or contact us online for a free consultation.
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What Is Pediatric Malpractice?
Pediatricians must provide care to a child in accordance with the generally accepted medical standard of care and practices. Standard of care refers to treatment that medical experts accept as proper treatment for illnesses.
If a pediatrician fails to perform up to this standard, the pediatrician may have committed malpractice. In addition, a failure to provide medical care for a child that is up to the standard of care can cause serious injuries, such as brain injury or birth injury, or even wrongful death.
Diagnosing illnesses is not necessarily as easy for a pediatrician as for an adult physician. Pediatric patients are not the same as adults. A child patient presents differently and doesn't use the same words to describe their condition as an adult would.
While an adult will be more than willing to share medical issues with the doctor, some children may be shy to do so.
This can interfere with a pediatrician's ability to correctly identify what is medically occurring with the child. As a result, the pediatrician could rush the diagnosis without considering all the possibilities.
The pediatrician might not perform the complete examinations necessary to properly diagnose the child's condition and miss important information that could lead to a proper diagnosis.
Common Pediatric Malpractice Claims in New York, NY
As a parent who has questions about pediatric malpractice, you may be wondering if you have the grounds to claim a medical malpractice lawsuit. To give you an idea, here are some of the most common types of pediatric malpractice claims that are typically filed:
Meningitis is the most common illness associated with pediatric malpractice cases. Because it is difficult to diagnose, meningitis results in a large number of malpractice claims. If an infant develops meningitis symptoms, a lawsuit can result if the pediatrician incorrectly identifies the symptoms and makes a misdiagnosis of the cause.
As meningitis advances, the infant's health becomes worse. Before the pediatrician has a second chance to examine the infant, the damage from meningitis can become irreversible. This makes it imperative that the pediatrician correctly diagnoses this illness.
Appendicitis is frequently misdiagnosed in infants who are suffering from the condition. Many times females with appendicitis are misdiagnosed as having a pelvic inflammatory disease or a urinary tract infection leading the pediatrician to miss the true cause of the symptoms.
Just like meningitis, a failure to properly diagnose appendicitis is common. Without proper treatment, appendicitis can grow worse to the point where it may be difficult to reverse fully.
Hip Dysplasia or Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
Hip dysplasia is a condition that is usually diagnosed within the first 6 months of an infant's life. It is diagnosed by a pediatrician based upon a thorough examination of the child's hip. The pediatrician will gently flex the hip in multiple directions to determine if it is functioning correctly.
The pediatrician evaluates whether the hip "ball" and "socket" are appropriately in contact with each other. If the hip is dislocated or underdeveloped there may be a need for treatment depending on the timing of the diagnosis.
If the condition is diagnosed within the first 6 months the infant will typically have a soft brace or casting without surgery but if the diagnosis is delayed an open reduction may be necessary to correct the condition
Errors involving medication are also among the more common malpractice claims. They can be attributed to the pediatrician, nurse, or pharmacist involved in the process. Medication errors fall under one of the following four possibilities:
- Ordering: The pediatrician orders the incorrect medicine for the illness presented, and the patient winds up taking the wrong drug.
- Administration: This covers several possibilities: The wrong drug is administered, the wrong dose of the drug is administered, the timing of the doses is incorrect, or the technique for taking the drug is incorrect
- Transcription: Miscommunication between the pediatrician and the pharmacy through writing, phone call, or electronic communication can lead to any number of mistakes.
- Dispensing: The pharmacist dispenses the medication incorrectly and possibly dispenses the wrong drug for the patient.
Pediatric Malpractice Compensation & Payouts
Pediatric malpractice claims that are successfully filed result in payouts to the claimants. A study done by the Doctor's Company analyzed 1,215 pediatric malpractice claims. The study found the median indemnity payment was $250,000, and the median expense to defend these claims was $99,984.
When payments were broken down by the child's age group, the study found that:
- Neonates, or infants less than one-month-old, have the highest mean indemnity paid at $936,843 and the highest mean expense paid at $187,117
- First-year children between one month and one year old had a mean indemnity paid of $448,205, and a mean expense paid of $150,000
- Children classified as between the ages of one and ten had a mean indemnity paid of $493,100, and a mean expense paid of 4146,000
- Teenagers classified as between the ages of 10 through 17 years had a mean indemnity paid of $389,849, and a mean expense paid of $129,816
The following chart shows mean (average) and median (middle value of data set) indemnity payment amounts broken down by age group:
Proving Negligence in New York Pediatric Malpractice Lawsuits
Establishing medical malpractice is not a simple process. You need a medical malpractice attorney to prove four legal requirements by a preponderance of the evidence:
1. The pediatrician owes your child a professional duty of care: A professional relationship is established between the patient and the health care provider. The doctor owes a duty of reasonable professional care to the patient. If reasonable care was not given, you could prove malpractice.
2. Breach of the professional duty of care: The patient must invoke the concept of standard of care, which refers to care that a similarly situated professional would have provided to the patient. If you can prove the standard was not met, it is grounds for malpractice.
3. Causation: The patient must show that the doctor caused an injury. In effect, the patient must show a direct relationship between the incorrect treatment and the resulting damage. Direct proof of this is evidence of malpractice.
4. Damages: These would include repayment of financial loss from medical care, medical bills, rehabilitation, therapy, medical equipment, medical treatment, and lost wages. If malpractice is proven, all of the expenses must be repaid to the patient.
It's a complicated process, but if your malpractice attorney can prove these four legal requirements, you may be on your way to a successful medical malpractice case. Also, realize that the statute of limitations on claiming a malpractice case for children starts on their 18th birthday. After that, you have two and a half years until the statute runs out.
Whatever your issue, get help from an experienced pediatric malpractice lawyer who is well trained and experienced in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Let Our Family Help Yours, Speak With a Pediatric Malpractice Lawyer Today
Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in the nation. For more than three generations, the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm has successfully represented victims and their families in matters of medical malpractice, civil rights, and personal injury — including hundreds of claims involving pediatric medical malpractice.
We often receive cases that have been too challenging for less versatile firms and use our ever-expanding perspective to forge original arguments and paths to achieve justice for clients faced with emotional, physical, and mental harm.
If your child has been injured after being treated by a medical professional, you may have the grounds for a pediatric medical malpractice case. Our medical malpractice lawyers can evaluate your case and determine if you meet New York State’s specific criteria by law.
Our consultations are always free regardless of the legal outcome, and we highly value the attorney-client relationship.
We can help when the unimaginable happens.
Call 212-869-3500 today or contact us online for a free consultation.