Child’s legs amputated after doctor fails to diagnose infection

The cold and flu season is in full swing now, and even though Illinois parents may stress with their children the importance of washing one’s hands and covering their mouths when they cough, children are bound to get sick.

During the cold and flu season, pediatricians and other doctors diagnose countless patients each week with the minor illnesses. However, this may present a problem if a doctor becomes too comfortable with passing off a child’s symptoms as the common cold or flu. Failing to carefully examine each patient’s unique symptoms could result in a misdiagnosis that could lead to serious consequences.

On Dec. 12, 2010, a mother brought her 6-year-old son to the hospital because he had a fever and his heart rate was abnormal. The physician who treated the child noted in medical records that the child had a fever of 102.5 degrees, his tonsils were swollen, and he had complained of pain in his abdomen and groin. But after conducting an X-ray and an ultrasound, the physician reported that nothing concerning was discovered.

The boy was sent home after being diagnosed with nasal congestion and a strained hip. The doctor wrote a prescription for ibuprofen to treat the child’s symptoms. However, within 24 hours of being sent home, the child was rushed to a trauma center. The boy’s parents later learned that their son’s symptoms were caused by a systematic strep infection. Because the infection had spread to other parts of his body, the boy’s legs had to be amputated.

Last week, the parents of the young child filed a lawsuit against the hospital in Maryland where the boy was initially taken. The lawsuit states that the treating physician had failed to consider that the child could have been suffering from a serious infection and as a result, the doctor did not conduct important blood tests or a rapid strep test that would have indicated that the child had the infection.

Had the infection been diagnosed in time, the child could have been prescribed an antibiotic that would have prevented the infection from spreading.

The medical malpractice lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. The child’s parents said that they hope this lawsuit will educate other parents about the potential dangers and complications of a misdiagnosis. The family also said that they believe their child’s medical expenses will result in millions of dollars over the course of his life.

Source: Annapolis Capital, “Couple sues BWMC for malpractice,” Scott Daugherty, Nov. 4, 2011



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