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Diagnosis of pediatric strokes can be missed or delayed


Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Feb 21, 2013 in Failure To Diagnose

When a child is sick, parents are often very worried and looking for answers. They bring their child to the hospital with the expectation that the doctors and nurses will be able to diagnose what is affecting their child and treat it effectively. Too often, however, there are illnesses and medical conditions that are not properly or accurately diagnosed because people are not used to seeing them in children.

For example, people would generally think that it is primarily older adults that are at risk of having a stroke. The unfortunate truth, however, is pediatric strokes affect about 3,000 children every year. Most children will survive a stroke, but the long-term effects of the stroke and medical care that is often required after one can be quite significant. This can be especially true if a stroke is not diagnosed quickly.

During a stroke, a person is losing blood supply to one area of the brain. The longer the brain is deprived of oxygen, the more serious the damage can be. This is why delaying treatment or a diagnosis when a child suffers a stroke can cause significant and long-lasting cognitive and physical impairment.

Victims of a childhood stroke are surprisingly resilient and many of them can often make a full recovery. However, it does not happen overnight. It can take years for young children to work through the physical and mental rehabilitation necessary to recover use of essential functions. Not only does this process take time, but it requires a substantial amount of money. Some reports suggest that medical bills during the first year alone can top $40,000. Many parents also suffer lost wages as a result of time they need away from work to care for their child.

The longer a diagnosis is delayed when it comes to a stroke, for children or adults, the more significant the damage can be and the more extensive the recovery process can be. Families can choose to pursue compensation from a negligent doctor or hospital if there was a failure to properly diagnose a stroke and begin treatments in a timely manner.

Source: ABC News, "Pediatric Stroke Often Misdiagnosed, Treatment Delayed," Susan Donaldson James, Feb. 11, 2013

  • Our Connecticut law firm works with victims of medical errors like the ones discussed in this post. For more information, please visit our webpage on misdiagnosis.