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Miscommunication, misdiagnosis blamed in young boy's death


Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Nov 08, 2012 in Failure To Diagnose

A parent with a sick child is understandably distraught and worried until their young one starts feeling better. Many parents will go to great lengths to secure a diagnosis and treatment plan so that they can help their child. However, parents can only do so much and we must rely on doctors and nurses to conduct tests and prescribe whatever medication is necessary. When a doctor fails to diagnose or properly treat a young patient, however, the results can be tragic.

Children can often get sick with a bug or an infection that is easily treatable and not life-threatening. As common as these cases are, however, there are other times when these are symptoms of a bigger health concern. While parents may not be able to tell the difference, a doctor should certainly be able to. Sadly, a young boy recently died after not one, but two doctors failed to diagnose a lethal condition called sepsis.

The young boy died just days after visiting a pediatrician and the emergency room complaining of stomach pain. One doctor noticed some skin abnormalities around a cut he had received playing basketball, but made no official note of it on the boy's chart. The second doctor noted a highly elevated pulse and a high volume of white blood cells but made no indication that he was considering any diagnosis other than a stomach bug. Somehow, the observations from the first doctor failed to be communicated to the second doctor. A blood test was administered and the 10-year-old boy was sent home.

Hours later, his organs were failing and he died from sepsis, a completely preventable condition. The young boy's devastated parents have since been working with hospitals nationwide to improve their efforts in preventing this type of negligence from happening again. Among the simple but significant changes they have requested is increased communication between doctors treating the same patient and efforts to keep parents in the loop with their child's treatment. For example, parents would be given more information about tests given and their results and parents would also be guided on what to look out for at home when a child is released.

While none of these common sense solutions can help the parents or the young child that they tragically lost, it is their hope that their story will serve to help other parents in similar situations. If your child died or is ill due to a misdiagnosis contact one of our Waterbury medical malpractice attorneys today for a free consultation. 

Source: The New York Times, "Death of a Boy Prompts New Medical Efforts Nationwide," Jim Dwyer, Oct. 25, 2012