Pediatricians specialize in the treatment of infants and children in the area of general medicine. They review the physical condition of patients and are responsible for immunizations, prescribing medications, ordering diagnostic testing and referring patients to specialists whenever a condition is beyond the scope of their abilities or responsibilities. These doctors are the first point of contact for most families concerning the health of their children and the decisions they make can have a prolonged impact on medical outcomes. The Chicago pediatrician medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers make sure that those who are injured due to medical negligence are able to recoup the costs associated with their medical treatment, pain and suffering and diminished quality of living.
The Training Requirements for the Average Pediatrician
A pediatrician serves as a primary care physician for minors and may work with infants, small children and adolescents. They may earn their doctor degree in medicine or osteopathy before choosing to pursue training in a pediatric field. A three year residency in pediatric medicine is required to perform as a pediatrician and qualified pediatricians have the option of pursuing further specialization in the areas of neonatal care, pediatric surgery, infectious disease, pediatric critical care, pediatric cardiology or pediatric radiology.
There are around 31,000 pediatricians in the United States. This small number of physicians serves the needs of millions of children countrywide, and such high demand for their services justifies their high pay. The average pediatrician will make more than $157,000 per year with the potential to make much more depending on factors such as board certification, membership in reputable medical organizations and subspecialties.
The value of pediatricians cannot be overstated, but they have the ability to have a negative influence on patients’ lives through poor decision making and mismanagement of patient conditions. When this occurs, our Chicago pediatrician malpractice lawyers are equipped to hold the negligent physician accountable so that the child receives the compensation he or she needs to tend to his or her care for as long as it may be required.
How Pediatricians Serve the Needs of Their Patients
Medical care during a child’s early development is important and the decisions that the child’s parents and doctors make will have a lasting effect. Pediatricians manage immunizations, physical examinations and the diagnosis of a number of medical conditions ranging from communicable diseases to developmental problems to chronic health conditions. Their responsibilities can include the following.
- Working with expecting mothers in conjunction with their gynecologists to monitor the health of the unborn baby and assist in the delivery process. Those with neonatal specialties can diagnose certain complications and take measures to protect the child and make sure its development is progressing as it should.
- Performing physical examinations from birth through the child’s development into an adult. A pediatrician will maintain a relationship with a child through most of his or her young life and will be responsible for managing any conditions that are identified through routine exams.
- Managing patients’ immunizations. Pediatricians manage the immunization of children from diseases such as tetanus, polio, measles, hepatitis and the flu. They must inform parents of the benefits and side effects of vaccinations and manage the comfort of children as they receive them. In the event that there is an adverse reaction to a vaccine, the pediatrician must be able to treat the reaction in a timely manner.
- Identifying and managing the treatment of developmental delay and disorders. Pediatricians will assist families in managing children that are suffering from developmental disorders by first ordering the required tests to confirm a diagnosis and then working with other specialists to address problems.
- Diagnosing infections and communicable illnesses. Children are prone to developing infections and contracting illnesses from other sick children and it is the duty of a pediatrician to determine the cause of the sickness and to provide an effective treatment plan. Most cases are treated through prescription medications and antibiotics.
- Treating injuries and referring children to appropriate specialists. Pediatricians are equipped to diagnose injuries sustained during physical exertion or due to an accident, but they may not always have the skills or knowledge required to provide treatment. It is up to the discretion of the physician to determine whether the opinion of a surgeon is required when assessing broken bones or torn ligaments and muscles.
- Managing chronic conditions. Whenever a child suffers from a chronic condition, it is up to his or her pediatrician to help manage symptoms and to provide educational and support resources to the parents as part of the treatment plan. Chronic conditions need to be taken into account whenever medications are prescribed for unrelated illnesses or injuries.
- Communicating with parents about their children’s health conditions and treatment plans. Some of the injuries children suffer result from poor communication between the doctor and patient’s parents. This step is critical to ensuring that the patient recovers properly and does not experience any adverse effects.
Pediatricians are More Likely to be Involved in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Since pediatricians are such an instrumental part of most children’s medical care, they are also more likely to face a malpractice lawsuit than many other types of doctors. It is estimated that one in three pediatricians will face legal action at one point in their lifetimes. The primary factor in these lawsuits is misdiagnosis or delay in treatment, but there are a number of ways that pediatricians can be found negligent. These can include the following.
- Failure to order tests in a timely fashion. Conditions such as viral meningitis can be fatal if they are not quickly detected and treated. One of the reasons that viral meningitis is so serious is that it is often confused with bacterial meningitis and the prescribed medications are unable to slow or stop the swelling inside of the brain that causes massive brain damage. In other instances, the delayed diagnosis of a condition such as appendicitis can result in the rupture of the appendix or another infected organ.
- Failure to refer patient to a specialist. There are moments where a pediatrician has to be willing to admit that the medical concern is beyond the scope of his or her ability and refer the patient to a physician who can provide more specialized care. Refusal or failure to do this in a timely fashion can make conditions much worse than they need to be and even lead to the death of the patient in the most serious of cases. One example of the negligent refusal to refer a child to a specialist is if a child has broken a bone and the doctor chooses not to seek the opinion of an orthopedist before deciding on a treatment plan. If the bone doesn’t heal properly, it may lead to developmental problems in the affected limb.
- Misinterpreting test results. Reading test results incorrectly can lead to misdiagnosing conditions, which creates a chain of events sure to harm the patient. The mistake could result in a condition never being diagnosed or a false positive diagnosis.
- Medication errors. Children are much more susceptible to overdose, which is why pediatricians need to make sure that they prescribe the right amount of medication and communicate clear instructions to parents about how and when to administer the drugs. This information needs to include the medication, the dose and the possible side effects that the child may encounter. Communicating how the parents should respond in the event of an adverse reaction or overdose may also reduce the severity of any injuries that result from the medication error.
- Injuries during or following birth. Neonatal specialists may be present for or assist in the delivery of the child. It is important that they take whatever actions are needed to respond to any complications the child has encountered. Failure to do so can result in serious conditions, such as the development of cerebral palsy when a jaundiced baby is not treated promptly.
- Failure to notice fetal distress. Neonatal specialists monitor the fetus throughout the mother’s pregnancy and need to be able to determine whether the child is displaying any signs of distress that might require an emergency birth or some form of intervention. The failure to notice and respond to these signs can lead to severe brain damage or miscarriage.
Let us Investigate Your Pediatric Medical Malpractice Case for Free
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has helped thousands of people recover the compensation they deserve when their doctors acted in a negligent fashion. All physicians are required to meet a duty of care when caring for their patients that represents the reasonable actions any similarly qualified medical specialist would perform. If you believe that your pediatrician failed to meet this standard and it resulted in serious injuries to your child, we would like the opportunity to conduct a more thorough investigation into the matter.
After we have gathered the information we need to properly assess your case, we can review all of your legal options with you so that you know what you can expect if you choose to pursue legal action. Medical malpractice cases are more difficult to win due to the legal protections many healthcare providers enjoy, but our lawyers have many years of experience and a successful history of winning favorable judgements on behalf of our clients.
Contact us today to be connected with one of our award winning Chicago pediatrician medical malpractice attorneys so that we can evaluate your case completely free of charge. We guarantee our results by working only on a contingency basis, so you are assured that if we are unable to secure compensation on your behalf, our services will be completely free of charge.