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If My Child Was Misdiagnosed, Is That Pediatric Malpractice?

Pediatrician checking girl's health condition.

When pediatricians misdiagnose or delay the diagnosis of a child’s illness or injury, the consequences for young patients can be severe or even fatal. However, misdiagnosis isn’t necessarily grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

For misdiagnosis to qualify as medical malpractice, the doctor must have been negligent in some way. Doctors are held to a certain standard of care. When a pediatrician deviates from that standard of care and causes harm to a patient, they can be held liable for their error through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If a pediatrician misdiagnoses your child, you might be able to hold them responsible for their negligence under certain conditions. To discuss your case for free with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates now.

Is Misdiagnosis Negligence?

On its own, a misdiagnosis does not necessarily mean negligence. However, patients can bring a medical malpractice lawsuit if a pediatrician’s error meets certain conditions. To bring a successful medical malpractice claim, you will need to show:

  • A pediatrician-patient relationship existed.
  • The doctor was negligent and didn’t provide a reasonable standard of care.
  • That your child suffered injuries because of the doctor’s carelessness.

Determining whether the doctor was negligent can be challenging, which is why you should consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer before you initiate legal action.

The crucial question is whether the doctor made a mistake and acted in a manner inconsistent with the acceptable standard of care. That means you would need to demonstrate that another doctor in the same field would not have misdiagnosed your child under similar circumstances. For example, if the doctor misdiagnosed your child after failing to properly investigate all potential diagnoses on their list, that could be considered negligence.

Some common ways that pediatricians can be negligent include:

  • Neglecting to review your child’s medical history or chart
  • Failing to perform a comprehensive examination of your child and their condition
  • Failing to further review irregular diagnostic tests
  • Delayed diagnosis of an illness or injury

You’ll also need to demonstrate that your child was injured or became ill because of the doctor’s negligent misdiagnosis. Or, if your child already had a condition that was exacerbated due to the doctor’s negligence, you’ll need to show that the misdiagnosis worsened the severity of the condition.

What Happens If a Doctor Misdiagnosed Your Child?

Pediatrician  checking up boy's health.If a doctor misdiagnoses your child, you should seek medical treatment from a new provider. If the misdiagnosis caused your child to become ill or injured or worsened your child’s condition, it is critical to address those medical issues as soon as possible. Be sure to inform your child’s new pediatrician about the previous doctor’s misdiagnosis.

Next, you should speak to a seasoned medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Because a misdiagnosis could be considered medical malpractice, you will need the help of an attorney to prove that your child’s pediatrician was negligent. An attorney can provide you with legal advice, help you understand your rights, and advise you on what steps to take next.

Can You Sue a Pediatrician for Misdiagnosis?

You could have grounds to sue your child’s pediatrician if the doctor negligently misdiagnosed your child. Lawsuits involving pediatric misdiagnosis typically follow the same steps as any other medical malpractice suit.

You probably have a viable medical malpractice claim as long as you can show that:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed.
  • The doctor failed to uphold their usual standard of care.
  • Your child suffered illness or injury due to the doctor’s error.

The hospital or medical facility where the physician practices might not be responsible for the misdiagnosis if the physician was an independent contractor. You would most likely bring your medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician who misdiagnosed your child. If they were directly employed by the medical facility where they work, the medical facility could also be liable.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you might be able to hold other parties liable as well if they contributed to the misdiagnosis, including lab staff and nurses. However, a misdiagnosis lawsuit will focus exclusively on the negligent physician in many cases.

It is important to note that Washington D.C. has a three-year Statute of Limitations on medical malpractice cases. If you fail to initiate legal action within that timeframe, you will likely lose your ability to sue the physician, and the court will dismiss your case.

Sometimes the health consequences of a misdiagnosis are not immediately apparent. The deadline clock starts when the misdiagnosis was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.

Common Conditions Misdiagnosed by Pediatricians

Some of the severe conditions that pediatricians commonly misdiagnose include:

  • Leukemia and other cancers
  • Pneumonia
  • Appendicitis 
  • Meningitis 
  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Autism
  • Asthma
  • Broken bones
  • Intestinal problems
  • Earaches 
  • Developmental disorders
  • Testicular torsion
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Psychiatric conditions
  • Medication side effects
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergic reactions

Pediatricians have an obligation to listen to your concerns as a parent, perform a comprehensive examination of your child, and conduct any scans or tests necessary to diagnose your child accurately.

Get Help from an Experienced Pediatric Malpractice Lawyer

If a pediatrician misdiagnosed your child, you could be entitled to pursue a lawsuit against the negligent doctor. The seasoned pediatric malpractice lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates have the necessary knowledge and resources to thoroughly investigate the incident, gather evidence to support your case, determine liability, calculate losses, and help you pursue the compensation your family deserves.

Contact us today for a free, confidential, no-risk consultation to discuss your case.

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