When you take your child to a pediatrician, you trust that the pediatrician will use reasonable care in diagnosing and treating your child. Pediatricians play a huge role in the health of children. Unfortunately pediatricians, nurses, and medical staff do make mistakes, and these mistakes can result in grave harm to children. However, not every mistake constitutes actionable malpractice. Pediatric malpractice occurs if a pediatrician doesn’t provide medical services and care to child in accordance with standards accepted within the medical community. When pediatric malpractice occurs, there is a risk of impairment of growth and learning, and this impairment may be lifelong. You shouldn’t assume that a pediatric injury caused by malpractice is trivial or will go away on its own; you may be facing long-term costs, and legal counsel can advise you regarding your rights. If your child was the victim of improper pediatric care, you may have legal options. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers may be able to look at your situation and determine the viability of your claim.What is Pediatric Malpractice?
When a pediatrician fails to provide care to a child patient in accordance with generally accepted medical standards and practices, he or she may have committed malpractice. Failure to provide reasonable medical care can result in serious injuries or death to a child. Pediatricians may fail to identify what the health concern is because sometimes children present different ways or don’t know to use the same language an adult patient might. Sometimes pediatricians are rushed and don’t outline a full differential diagnosis when they should. Pediatricians should be very alert to differences among child patients, and between child patients and adult patients, and perform full examinations in order to screen for conditions a parent or child is unaware of.Proving Pediatric Malpractice
If you need to establish pediatric malpractice, you will need to prove by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) the pediatrician owed your child a professional duty of care, (2) breach of the professional duty of care, (3) causation, and (4) damages. Pediatricians may breach the duty to use reasonable care by failing to adequately perform a physical examination, failing to timely follow up, failing to adequately screen a child, misinterpreting lab results, making surgical errors, failing to order appropriate tests, ignoring relevant patient history, overlooking symptoms, failing to properly monitor a child, failing to provide proper medications, failing to timely diagnose infections, or failing to timely diagnose a serious condition such as leukemia or meningitis.
In New York, the statute of limitations for a minor child in a medical malpractice lawsuit doesn’t start running until his or her eighteenth birthday in most cases, and will usually be 2 ½ years from that time. It is important to be aware that the statute of limitations can’t be extended more than 10 years after the incident constituting malpractice or after a foreign object in the child’s body reasonably should have been discovered or was discovered. As a parent, you can sue your child’s pediatrician for medical malpractice, and a skilled medical negligence attorney can guide you through the process.Certificate of Merit
As with other medical malpractice lawsuits, you will need to file a written certificate of merit with your pediatric malpractice lawsuit or within 90 days of filing the suit if it proves too difficult to comply with this requirement. The certificate will need to state that you have reviewed the facts and have consulted with at least one licensed doctor, and have concluded on the basis of the consultation that there is a reasonable basis to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, or that you weren’t able to comply with the consultation requirement even though three separate good faith efforts at a consultation with three different doctors were made.Damages
Damages in a pediatric malpractice case are usually compensatory and can include amounts for medical care, rehabilitation, therapy, medical equipment, lost wages, replacement wages, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment, and more.
The type and extent of the damages depends on the particular circumstances. For example, if your child who was injured by pediatric malpractice was working after school, but no longer can because of paralysis arising as a result of pediatric malpractice, lost wages may be available. In that situation, it may be possible to recover future lost wages, as well, and it may be necessary to hire an economist or other expert to determine how those future losses can be quantified. Where a child is permanently scarred by pediatric malpractice, it may be possible to recover damages for scarring and disfigurement. If a child is permanently injured by pediatric malpractice such that he or she needs lifelong care, it may be possible to recover damages to pay for a caregiver.
Wrongful death lawsuits arising out of pediatric malpractice are different. You can recover economic or pecuniary losses in a wrongful death case in the event that pediatric malpractice causes your child’s death. You may be able to obtain damages that represent the services of your child while underage less the costs and expenses of raising and educating him or her. However, you won’t be able to obtain damages for mental anguish or pain and suffering in a wrongful death lawsuit.Consult a Seasoned Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Syracuse
Pediatric malpractice can have long-term consequences for a child who is injured, as well as their family members. The family may be permanently changed by pediatric malpractice, and the costs of addressing the needs of a disabled child can be tremendous. If your child was injured by pediatric malpractice in Syracuse, it’s important to discuss the situation with an experienced trial attorney. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents pediatric patients harmed in Syracuse, Rochester, and throughout Upstate New York, including in Watertown, Canandaigua, Oswego, Ithaca, Binghamton, Lowville, Cooperstown, Oneida, Auburn, Utica, Wampsville, Lyons, Herkimer, and Elmira. Call our firm at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form to learn more about your legal rights and options.