The most frequently misdiagnosed medical conditions are cancer, heart conditions and strokes. Yet those three things are most likely to affect adults. What is the story for kids? Do doctors usually get things right? Or could they misdiagnose them too?
Doctors get most things right when diagnosing children, the same as with adults. Yet when they do make a mistake, the consequences can be dire.
Failed, delayed or wrong diagnoses are the leading factor in medical malpractice claims brought on behalf of children. While not all those claims succeed, it shows that doctors often struggle to diagnose kids. Here are some reasons why:
They are not as good at communicating as adults
Once someone reaches a certain age and level of maturity, it becomes easier for doctors to ask them for information directly. Until that point, medical staff rely on information from third parties, such as the child’s parents, or what they can deduce by poking, prodding and observing any visible signs. Children typically also have less medical history to guide the doctor.
Doctors need patience when dealing with children
Doctors often face pressure to diagnose a patient and move on to the next. Some just want to get the screaming child out of their earshot. Yet, failing to carry out proper examinations, ask adequate questions and conduct thorough research reduces the chance they make the correct diagnosis.
You might believe a doctor could have prevented your child from suffering by making the correct diagnosis or making it sooner. If so, consider legal help to assess if you have sufficient grounds to bring a medical malpractice claim.