Pediatric Malpractice In Utah: Should You Consult An Attorney?
As parents, we rely on our pediatricians in Utah to provide vital medical care to our infants and children. Children, who often cannot speak for themselves, are in a most vulnerable position. They rely completely on the professionals and adults around them to care for their needs. What if you suspect your child may have been misdiagnosed or otherwise failed to receive proper care by a pediatrician? How can you know? Should you talk to a pediatric malpractice attorney?
Common Pediatric Malpractice Claims
While this list is far from exhaustive, there are certain types of errors that seem to occur more commonly and may represent pediatric malpractice.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the most common illness associated with pediatric malpractice cases in the United States is meningitis. I suspect this is consistent with Utah cases as well. Meningitis can be difficult to diagnose in pediatric settings and the consequences of failing to do so promptly can be catastrophic.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a bacterial or viral infection that invades the cerebral spinal fluid. Prompt diagnoses and treatment (often with IV antibiotics and steroids) is critical. Complications of meningitis can include neurological problems such as hearing loss, visual impairment, learning disabilities and seizures.
Jaundice and Kernicterus
Kernicterus is a rare kind of preventable brain damage that can happen in newborns with jaundice. Jaundice is a yellow coloring of the skin that affects about 60-80% of infants. It happens when babies build up too much bilirubin in their blood. It usually goes away on its own, but sometimes requires prompt treatment.
Many hospitals and pediatricians have devised evidence-based strategies to recognize and treat early cases of infant hyperbilirubinemia based on the AAP clinical practice guidelines for the management of hyperbilirubinemia. The strategies include, among others, obtaining type and Rh on infants born to Rh-negative and O-positive mothers, obtaining transcutaneous bilirubin on all infants to determine risk at discharge, monitoring weight, and evaluating newborns within 48-72 hours after discharge for feeding an d jaundice.
Misdiagnoses of jaundice and Kernicterus and the failure to properly inform and communicate with parents can lead to severe, life-long injuries to children. Such instances may be medical malpractice, particularly if the AAP clinical guidelines were not followed.
According to the AAP, 27% of infants with appendicitis are misdiagnosed. If proper treatment is not given, the illness can progress to a point where it is much more difficult, or impossible, to fully reverse.
Medication errors can occur in various ways including ordering, administration (wrong drug, dose, timing, or technique), transcription, and dispensing. According to the AAP, when medication mistakes happen, physicians are at fault 69% of the time. The types of injuries resulting from medication errors in children and infants vary widely depending on the medication, but can be very severe.
When to Consult a Pediatric Malpractice Attorney in Utah
If you suspect your child has been the victim of pediatric malpractice, it is important to talk to an experienced medical malpractice in Utah who has represented children. The only way to know if you have a valid case is to consult an attorney and have the case reviewed, often by medical experts. As a medical malpractice attorney in Utah for nearly 20 years, I have represented numerous victims of malpractice. There are unique legal issues involved in representing children. That is just one of the reasons it is important to have a skilled attorney assisting you and your child through this process. If you suspect pediatric malpractice, I would be happy to talk to you for free to see if I can help. Please call attorney Jared Faerber at (801) 438-1099.