A young girl struggling with a rare autoimmune disorder had a unique idea to make the medical process easier for child patients, their families, and their caregivers.
When she was seven years old, doctors diagnosed Ella Casano, who is now 12, with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura.
ITP causes the patient’s body to attack its own blood platelets, so the patient is at a much higher risk for severe bleeding and bacterial infection.
Ella’s treatment regimen includes intensive IV infusions about once every two months.
The amount of medicine was intimidating, so the creative girl “cut up a stuffed animal and used a hot glue gun and made her very first Medi Teddy,” according to her mother.
Ella’s nurses say her invention will help ease children’s fears, making their illnesses easier to diagnose and treat.
Ella and her mother researched business plans and intend to file legal paperwork.
Once the Medi Teddy business is up and running, Ella plans to give the bears to other child patients for free.
Medical Misdiagnosis Among Children
ITP is very hard to diagnose, largely because it has no signature symptoms and can strike anyone at any age.
Misdiagnosis is very high in general. In fact, about a fifth of physician diagnoses are inaccurate.
In high school, an 80 is well above average.
But in the doctor-patient context, 80 percent is a failing grade.
That’s because doctors have a very high duty when it comes to patient care.
That higher duty makes it easier to prove negligence and obtain damages, as outlined below.
Lack of information may be the root of the misdiagnosis problem.
On average, doctors listen to patients for about eleven seconds before they interrupt them.
During such brief interaction, it’s impossible for doctors to learn any meaningful new information about the patient’s symptoms.
Instead, many doctors simply go with their guts.
Compounding the issue, many doctors do not order a full range of diagnostic tests.
They are afraid the insurance company will refuse to pay for them.
As a result, the information is even more limited. In other situations, doctors over-delegate.
They instruct nurses or technicians to interpret the results, and these professionals may not have the requisite skills to do so.
Cancer is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions, particularly among children.
When a child complains of weakness, lethargy, pain, and other generalized symptoms, most doctors do not think of cancer.
For most physicians, cancer is a genetic or lifestyle disease. In their minds, nonsmokers do not get lung cancer, men do not get breast cancer, and children do not get any kind of cancer.
As a result, the disease spreads and quickly becomes unmanageable.
Cancer survival rates have improved significantly since the 1990s, but that improvement relies on a prompt and accurate diagnosis.
Your Claim for Damages
Medical misdiagnosis almost always is medical malpractice, which is a lack of ordinary care.
If that lack of care substantially caused injury, the tortfeasor (negligent actor) may be liable for damages.
In this situation, the doctor may not be the only responsible party.
The clinic, hospital, or other organization which employed the doctor, or gave the doctor a place to work, may be responsible as well.
The respondeat superior doctrine applies if the tortfeasor:
- Was an employee
- Who was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time.
New York law defines both these elements in broad, victim-friendly ways.
For example, any act which benefits the employer in any way is usually within the scope of employment.
Damages in medical malpractice claims usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Additional punitive damages are available as well, in many of these cases.
Under New York law, jurors may award punitive damages if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known risk or acted extremely recklessly.
Given the high standard of care discussed above, this showing is relatively easy to make in medical malpractice claims.
Chances are, you or someone you know has been the victim of misdiagnosis.
For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC.
Home and hospital visits are available.