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. The decisions they make can have a prolonged impact on medical outcomes.
The Chicago pediatrician medical malpractice attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC 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. Contact our office today for a free review of your pediatric medical malpractice case.
The Training Requirements for the Average Pediatrician
A pediatrician serves as a primary care physician for minors. They also may work with infants, small children, and adolescents. They can earn their doctoral 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. 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. 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 children receive the compensation they need to tend to their 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. 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 with 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 other 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 patients 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.
Sample Illinois Pediatric Malpractice Jury Awards & Settlements
$2,550,000 Settlement; Pediatrician Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
This pediatric malpractice case involved a failure to diagnose by the attending doctor. The parents of the kid, who was six at the time, took him to see the pediatrician. They were concerned because he had a bump in his leg. The doctor looked at it. What happened next was a subject of controversy. The parents claimed the doctor told them nothing was the matter and the issue would resolve itself on its own. They said the pediatrician diagnosed it as hemangioma and stated the kid was fine. The pediatrician claimed that he referred the child to a radiologist to have further study on the lump. Whatever the case, a little under one year later the child’s pain and lethargy increased. The parents soon found out that he had cancer. The child died not long after these developments. The parents sued the pediatrician, radiologist, and treating facility. The defendants took turns pointing their fingers at one another. In the end, this could not do them any good. They figured that court would not either, so they chose to settle. The family received $2.55 million-$1.15 million from the pediatrician; $1.32 million from the radiologist; and $80,000 from the facility.
$1,700,000 Settlement; Pediatrician Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
The patient here was an infant, just a few years old. Apparently, his pediatrician prescribed the wrong medication. Then, the pharmacy dispensed the wrong pills. Plus, the drugs did not have adequate warnings to instruct or alert the child’s parents. Consequently, the little boy died from complications related to the negligent prescription and inadequate warnings. His parents and older sister (just four herself) survived him. The family brought a lawsuit against the pediatrician, pharmacy, and pharmaceutical company. They claimed the defendants’ combined negligent caused the boy’s death. They sought compensation for the harm and pain that resulted. The blatant nature of the defendants’ errors removed the need for trial. Most of the time was spent on settlement negotiations. In the end, the family received $1.7 million. $1 million came from the pharmaceutical company. $400,000 came from the pharmacy. $275,000 came from the pediatrician and the rest came from the hospital where the boy was treated at which was also named in the lawsuit..
$4,000,000 Verdict; Pediatrician Malpractice; Chicago, Illinois
This case involved an important back-and-forth between a pediatrician and the child’s mom. The little boy was not eating or sleeping well just a little over a week after he was born. The mom called the pediatrician who instructed her to go to the ER. She did and the staff did x-rays then discharged them after finding nothing wrong. Yet, the kid’s status did not change so she phoned the pediatrician again. He told her nothing was wrong. Undeterred, she brought her child back to the ER. The staff did not review his medical history or conduct proper testing. Once again, the child was discharged. After the family arrived home, the boy’s condition worsened. He appeared blue. His breathing deteriorated. The mother called the pediatrician and he told her to wait until normal business hours. She did that and then returned. However, by that time it was too late. They could not revive him. The family sued the doctors and the medical facility. They claimed that the defendants misdiagnosed him, negligently treated him, and ignored substantial medical signs. The matter went all the way to trial because the defendants argued they acted properly. However, the jury held that they did not. They awarded the family a sizeable verdict for the wrongful death of the little boy.
$7,600,000 Settlement; Pediatrician Malpractice; Chicago, Illinois
The victim here was just a few weeks old. It was a little baby boy. His parents brought him to see the doctor just two weeks after he was born. They were concerned that he had lost a lot of weight and was showing other symptoms of illness. The doctor suggested all was well and discharged the family. About two weeks later, the parents returned with the child. He was experiencing dehydration. The condition became so bad that he suffered a brain injury. From that issue, doctors learned that he developed cerebral palsy. His life expectancy was cut because of that. Also, he needed to live with the assistance of a ventilator and feeding tube just to survive. His family sued the pediatrician. They alleged the doctor negligently diagnosed and treated him. This deficient care directly led to his declining health and terrible condition. Plus, the child and family now were saddled with exorbitant medical bills and lost income for the rest of his life. The defendants chose to settle out of court. The family received more than $7 million. Roughly half of that money was put in a trust for the care of the child.
Let us Investigate Your Pediatric Medical Malpractice Case for Free
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC 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. This care should represent 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 will 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 judgments on behalf of our clients.
Contact us today to be connected with one of our award-winning Chicago pediatrician medical malpractice attorneys. 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.