Smiley & Smiley, LLP

Rate of misdiagnosis for pediatric stroke is high

When seemingly healthy kids and teens develop sudden and/or strange symptoms, it can be difficult to immediately discern what is happening to them. However, standard medical testing and adherence to quality care standards should ultimately lead physicians to a correct diagnosis. Failure to diagnose kids and teens properly can result in medical malpractice claims, depending on the circumstances.

Unfortunately, the rate of misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose kids and teens with one particular condition is unacceptably high. Pediatric stroke occurs in approximately 3,000 American minors each year. According to ABC News and the Cleveland Clinic, pediatric stroke is one of the 10 most frequent causes of childhood death, in part due to high rates of misdiagnosis.

Children are quite resilient and can recover more fully from stroke than many adults can. However, many suffer long-term disability as a result of this medical event. If physicians correctly diagnose stroke in its immediate aftermath, significant physical damage and risk of additional strokes can often be mitigated.

Newborns in their first year of life, boys, children with developing heart disease and African American children are at higher risk of pediatric stroke than other children are. However, stroke can affect any child. Currently, the average treatment delay for a child suffering stroke is 28 hours because both parents and physicians fail to understand the signs.

If you are concerned that your child has suffered a stroke and your physician is not acting upon your concerns, please consult a second opinion. If your child's physician misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose your child's stroke, legal remedies are likely available. However, the ideal is that your child be treated promptly and effectively.

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

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