Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) February 6, 2007 — The medical profession is considered a helping profession but what happens when your child’s doctor or medical group fails to follow through on a diagnosis or simply tells parents that the child is acting out and to ignore the problem and it will go away?

Because Michael* suffered from childhood asthma, he was under the medical care of a primary pediatric clinic since the age of 10. At age 12 he began to complain of severe headaches. Because of his condition he went regularly for checkups and his mother complained about his lack of sexual development at age 14 and 16 as compared to his older brother. Her complaints fell on deaf ears. During this time Michael also had some loss of vision and more headaches.

It was not until at 19, Michael went for a physical exam for work and was told that there was a serious problem. He returned to the pediatric clinic and was immediately scheduled for an endocrinology evaluation because the lack of development of sexual characteristics is likely due to pituitary impairment, which can be due to a brain tumor. When he was given an MRI, a brain tumor was revealed. He underwent brain surgery and developed severe metabolic problems including severe diabetes, explosive weight gain, and significant loss of vision.

In another case, 7-year-old Ed* was running with a curtain rod, he fell, and the rod entered the right side of his nose. The rod was lodged several inches into his nose and sinus cavity. He was rushed to the emergency room and was given an x-ray of his skull, but was not given a CT scan since that technology was not available during the 1970s. He had extensive damage to his nose and underwent plastic surgery. After the surgeries his nose always would run clear fluid.

For years afterwards into his teen years, his parents repeatedly brought the clear nasal fluid problem to the attention of his pediatricians and surgeon. Ed was never examined further and they were told it was due to the damage to his nose. At age 16, Ed was diagnosed with meningitis and treated with antibiotics; he made a full recovery. No reason was given for why he suffered meningitis. At 17, he again developed more serious meningitis, which subsequently caused moderate brain damage from the infection.

It was only after the second bout of meningitis that one doctor took a sample of the fluid still coming out of his nose and discovered that it was cerebral spinal fluid. The curtain rod had caused a fracture of the cribiform plate separating his sinuses from the brain cavity and he had been leaking cerebral spinal fluid for all of those years.

Lastly, a mother reported that her 3 1/2 year old daughter had a problem urinating. Rather than examine Rachel* the doctor said to just bring her in for a urine analysis. The mother complied; the sample was given, analyzed, and reported as not a urinary tract infection. The mother called repeatedly over a period of several weeks but was never given an appointment. She was told it was merely a behavioral problem; that little girls often do that, and there was nothing to worry about.

When Rachel began crying while urinating, the mother took her to the ER and was referred to a pediatric urologist. A MRI was done and the tumor in the bladder diagnosed. The malignant tumor, called a rhabdomyosrcoma, was growing slowly each day inside the toddler’s bladder.

The treatment required chemotherapy to shrink the tumor and radiation therapy as well. Despite this aggressive therapy, the tumor could not be eliminated and the entire bladder had to be surgically removed. Rachel is cured of the cancer, but now must catheterize herself through a hole in her belly button six times a day to remove the urine from her body.

What could these parents have done differently?

They were definitely concerned and well meaning but what else could they do to champion their children’s medical rights?

Unfortunately the effects of managed care have done nothing to improve the relationship between the doctor and patient or parents of the patient. Nevertheless, doctors have a responsibility to patients of all ages and parents also have a responsibility to be alert, informed, and persistent.

Parents know their children better than anyone. Parents must demand a second opinion. Many healthcare plans do not allow for that contingency but parents must demand it anyway. Don’t take no or no response for an answer. Don’t let all the framed certificates in the doctor’s office deter you from your gut instincts.

Parents should keep thorough records of their children’s healthcare and take notes, bring a friend or relative when your child goes to the doctor, and/or tape record what goes on during the examination. Parents need to do their own research online from reputable websites or confer with a librarian to point you in the right direction for further research. Parents should give the doctor a list of questions and not leave the exam room until they are answered. Do not be intimidated by medical or technical jargon. Ask for an easy to understand explanation. Doctors went to medical school; you did not; don’t be embarrassed.

Put your unanswered questions and complaints in writing and file complaints with the clinic or healthcare plan.

If your child suffers from ongoing vomiting, dehydration, fever, breathing problems, sleepiness, lethargy, stomach pain, distended belly, bloody stool, limping, weight loss (or failure to gain weight at a normal rate), excessive weight gain, vision problems; these symptoms could be signs of serious health issues. (The above statement should not be considered medical advice, but simply things parents should be on the lookout for and should discuss with their child’s medical professionals.)

These are just three examples of pediatric medical malpractice; there are hundreds, if not thousands, of similarly sad experiences that could have been avoided if doctors had taken the time to listen to parents, and parents were more prepared in dealing with these obstacles.

*The names have been changed for confidentiality purposes.

For more information, visit Anapol Schwartz

Parents whose children are victims of medical malpractice should contact Anapol Schwartz by calling toll-free (866) 735-2792 or emailing.

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