When you’re a parent, you hate it when your child is sick. You turn to a doctor you trust to make sure that your child gets whatever they need to get better.
Unfortunately, doctors seem to have a particularly difficult time diagnosing illnesses in young children with accuracy. In fact, the younger the patient, the more likely it is that your doctor will make a diagnostic mistake that could lead to a serious injury.
According to recent studies, infants between a month old and one year in age are the most vulnerable to misdiagnoses. They’re also the most likely to die from malpractice, with a mortality rate of 30%. However, all children seem to be at some elevated risk of misdiagnosis regardless of age.
Doctors and insurers tend to attribute the problem to the fact that small children are unable to describe their symptoms, and parents may or may not be able to provide useful information. On the other hand, there’s also the possibility that some doctors tend to be overly dismissive of parental concerns — essentially downplaying a parent’s fear as “nervous parenting” and not something medically significant.
Older children and teens may have their symptoms dismissed as nothing more than a case of nerves or outright attention-seeking. Therefore, voicing their complaints might not be helpful.
Insurers and physicians admit that sometimes there are simply failures in the overall medical system that lead to misdiagnoses. Missed lab results, overlooked family histories and misread x-rays can also be at fault.
Whatever the reason for the problem, parents should be aware that misdiagnoses happen far too often with children. If you’re not satisfied with the answers your getting from your child’s doctor, insist on a second look — or a second opinion from another doctor.
If your child has been the victim of medical malpractice, find out more about your legal rights as soon as possible.