In a recent edition of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians, an article was published on "Medical Diagnoses Commonly Associated with Pediatric Malpractice Lawsuits in the United States." The article describes the most common lawsuits involving pediatricians in the US. You can read it by clicking on the article's title.
The authors note that, despite unprecedented changes in law termed "tort reform", which is designed to make it more difficult to win lawsuits, a settlement or jury verdict was still paid out in over one-quarter of cases filed. They also noted that tort reform has been successful in its goals of reducing the number of lawsuits filed and reducing the number of lawsuits that are successful. All this means that there are a very large number of pediatricians committing medical malpractice and that, even despite the changes in the laws, there are a large number of people collecting awards for the doctor's negligence.
The authors state that pediatricians as a group spend among the highest amount defending malpractice lawsuits out of any specialty of doctors. The article then goes on to describe the following childhood illnesses, which are commonly misdiagnosed:
- Nonteratogenic anomalies and congenital anomalies of the genital organs
- Brain-damaged infants
- Medication errors
The authors also note that pediatricians practicing in emergency settings also commonly face lawsuits for their negligence during an emergency. They recommend being cognizant of the emergency to avoid making matters worse for the patient.
The article concludes by recommending several easy-to-implement general risk management techniques to decrease the possibility of malpractice. I encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the diseases that commonly give rise to medical malpractice lawsuits. I also encourage parents to watch for these risk-management techniques and only see doctors who implement them.
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