Medical malpractice can happen to anyone, but when the victim of the negligence is a child, then consequences can be devastating and can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, there are many situations in which a pediatrician or other medical professional involved in the care or treatment of a child can make a mistake.
There are many illnesses that occur with significant frequency in children. If a doctor fails to diagnose the serious ailment or does not treat the condition with the appropriate type and level of care, it can lead to permanent harm or death in the more extreme cases.
In order to succeed in a pediatric malpractice case, it is necessary to prove the following elements:
- The doctor or other medical professional had a duty to provide a certain level of care to the child;
- The medical provider breached his or her duty by failing to adhere to the standard of a reasonably prudent medical professional with the same education, training, and skills and the actions that he would have taken under the same circumstances – this standard is established through the testimony of a medical expert, who also will testify about how the defendant’s care deviated from the standard;
- The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the harm suffered by the child; and
- It is possible to quantify the harm that was done – this is important because it does not matter how egregious the mistake was if it did not lead to measurable harm.
Some of the most common types of harm that children experience is from a misdiagnosis of fairly common medical conditions that occur during childhood. One of the illnesses that can lead to serious harm, and many fatalities, is meningitis. This devastating ailment must be diagnosed and treated quickly in order to minimize the risk of long-term harm. Unfortunately in infants and children, a doctor often may miss the early signs of this illness or may recognize the symptoms, but make the wrong diagnosis, leading to a dangerous delay of treatment.
One of the other common mistakes that impact children across the country is the prescribing of the wrong medication or the dispensation of the wrong dose. Many medications come in formulas specifically developed for children. When an adult dose is prescribed or the pharmacy fills a prescription with the wrong medication, it can lead to serious harm. In addition, the manner in which the medication must be administered may vary significantly between children and adults. A doctor may prescribe the correct medication, but may fail to provide for the proper administration of the drug. Although nurses and pharmacists may be responsible for these mistakes, the reality is that pediatricians often make serious medication errors that lead to irreversible harm.
Responding to Pediatric Malpractice
When a child is harmed through the negligence of a medical professional, one of the most complicated factors to a lawsuit, in addition to establishing the correct standard of care and demonstrating how that was breached, is calculating damages. In many cases of pediatric malpractice, the harm is permanent. There will be no opportunity to go back and re-evaluate the amount of compensation necessary to provide a lifetime of care and necessary accommodations, so it is critical to contemplate all the possible associated costs and expenses and ensure that they are part of the damages awarded by the court or the settlement reached with the defendants. In calculating damages in a pediatric malpractice case, it is critical to consider the following:
- The cost of medical care – this encompasses all anticipated medical treatment arising out of the harm that was caused by negligence, including long-term therapy and rehabilitation;
- Expenses relating to accommodations in the home and vehicles – if a child was physically harmed as the result of pediatric negligence, it may be necessary to modify a residence or vehicle in order to accommodate a wheelchair or walker, in addition to other potential needs;
- Compensation for additional necessary care – a child who suffers debilitating harm may require assistance from additional caregivers or may need specialized educational programs; and
- Pain and suffering.
It is important to calculate all the potential expenses that may result from a worsening of a child’s condition in the future, as long as this situation can reasonably be anticipated based on the harm that the child suffered.
Stern Law, PLLC Fights for Children Harmed by Medical Negligence
One of the worst things that a person can endure is injury to his or her child. In an instant, all the hope for the imagined future is extinguished and the child and his or her family must adapt to the new reality. The passionate and dedicated attorney at Stern Law, PLLC have spent more than 30 years advocating for children who have been harmed as the result of medical malpractice. Stern Law, PLLC also strives to provide information and resources to those who are going through a struggle as the result of malpractice, so we have compassionate and knowledgeable staff members available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, to answer questions, even if you are not a client. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult