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The Most Common Pediatrician Mistakes

by Editorial Team | April 19th, 2017 | Elementary, Preschool, Safety, Safety

As a parent, having to experience the fear involved with a child experiencing an illness or injury is one of the most uncomfortable and unfortunate feelings. In most cases, however, highly-trained and caring pediatricians are available to ease the concern, no matter how serious or acute the child’s medical condition may be. But as with any interaction with a hospital, clinical, or primary physician’s office, errors do take place that can cause harm to the child in both the short and long term. When a mistake takes place, parents often feel as though there is no recourse for their child aside from legal action, which can be a long, drawn out process that does not result in clarification or peace of mind. To help parents better protect their children from harm caused by a medical care error, it is beneficial to understand the most common mistakes made by pediatricians before heading to the doctor.

Misdiagnosing Meningitis

One of the most common issues that arise in pediatric care is the misdiagnosis of meningitis in young patients. The health condition is a bacterial illness that can cause serious harm to vulnerable patients, like children, when it is not diagnosed and treated early on in its development. In most cases of meningitis misdiagnosis, a pediatrician fails to recognize the signs and symptoms of the condition before it causes irreversible harm to the patient. Not performing a CT scan or a lumbar puncture to rule out bacterial illnesses like meningitis can be viewed as neglect on behalf of the doctor providing care.

Parents can work with their pediatrician to avoid the negative effects of a failed meningitis diagnosis by understanding the symptoms that come with the illness. Most young patients experience an ongoing fever, a severe headache, irritability, rapid breathing, or unusual posture. When one or more of meningitis symptoms occur, parents should immediate visit their pediatrician and ask for a full scope of tests to include those that would rule out the bacterial illness. A representative from a medical negligence firm that specializes in claims for misdiagnosis explains that the outcome of failing to detect and subsequently treat meningitis can be devastating. Young patients could experience brain damage, a loss of hearing, or seizures as a result of not having a proper meningitis diagnosis and treatment.

Failure to Diagnose Appendicitis

Similar to meningitis, appendicitis is often misdiagnosed among children patients. Nearly 27% of infants suffering from appendicitis do not receive the correct or timely diagnosis, partly due to the difficulty involved in determining the underlying issue. Appendicitis takes place when the appendix becomes inflamed which may cause it to burst if not treated immediately. Among younger patients, the diagnosis is either misconstrued as pelvic inflammatory disease, a urinary tract infection, or simple indigestion.

If a child is experiencing symptoms like chills or a sustained fever, a loss of appetite or nausea, tenderness of the stomach area or belly button, or unrelenting gas and bloating, it’s time to see the doctor. Be prepared to help the pediatrician understand the child’s level of discomfort, how long the symptoms have been taking place, and any at-home treatments that have been attempted. Having an open and honest discussion is incredibly beneficial in avoiding a misdiagnosis when possible.

Errors in Medications

Misdiagnosis is a common error found among pediatric doctors, but mistakes in medications are also a pressing concern for parents. Prescription medications are a used often to treat mild to severe illnesses in children, and when medication errors take place in the process, physicians are at fault nearly 70% of the time. Mistakes are most prevalent when ordering medication, followed by incorrect administration, faulty transcription, and dispensing of the drug. Medication errors have the potential to impede a child’s recovery in both the short and long term, and the mistake could have lasting effects on the well-being of a young patient if not caught quickly.

Parents can help reduce the errors that take place in pediatric medicine by having an awareness of the common mistakes that take place. Misdiagnosis of meningitis and appendicitis, as well as errors in medications, have the potential to alter the course of a young patient’s life and result in costly treatment that would not have been necessary otherwise. Pay close attention to the symptoms a child is experiencing, and be prepared to ask questions – and get answers – any time a visit to the pediatrician is warranted.

Brought to you by our friend, Jose Calvo.

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