Preventing Misdiagnosis When Taking Your Child to a Rhode Island Physician

Some diseases can be hard to diagnose. Indeed, misdiagnosis is one of the most common reasons for bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit, and for good reason — bad diagnoses put patients can limit treatment options as well as substantially change a patient's prognosis.

A misdiagnosis can force a patient to undergo unnecessary expensive testing and treatment. A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of a serious illness can be fatal.

In the United States, patients stand a one in five chance of being misdiagnosed. The risk is even higher for children. Kids, especially young ones, don't have the verbal or cognitive skills to fully explain their symptoms. They also likely won't know to volunteer information that could help the doctor make a diagnosis.

While parents are certainly not to blame for the mistakes of medical professionals, you can help prevent misdiagnosis or missed diagnoses by being well-informed advocates for your children.  Whenever you take your children to visit a Rhode Island hospital, emergency room or doctor's office, keep the following in mind:

Don't be afraid to ask questions: Keep asking "what else could it be?" Ask the doctor questions about how he or she arrived at the diagnosis and what options exist to treat your child. Not only will you be able to help the doctor think through all the options, but you will also be more prepared to do research later.

Get a second opinion: But keep the original diagnosis to yourself at first. Let the doctor hear all of your child's symptoms and see if he or she comes to the same conclusion. Getting a second opinion is especially important if your child is diagnosed with a serious disease or one that will require invasive or long-term treatment.

Have pathology rechecked: Request that biopsies and similar tests be run through another lab to see if the results come back the same.

Know your family history: Family history plays a major role in diagnosis, especially if the child is suffering from a rare or genetic illness. The doctor might not think of these conditions unless something in your child's family history raises the issue.

Bring someone with you: It's extremely hard to process bad news, especially when your child's well-being is at stake. Many people get so stressed out that they can't remember everything the doctor said. Bring a friend or family member with you and have them help you keep notes.

Do your research: Look up all the possible diagnoses online or in the library. If something doesn't seem right, bring it up to your child's doctor. But, at the same time, don't panic. It's too easy to diagnose your own child with a serious illness using online resources when he or she may have only a cold or flu.

As parents, we never want to see anything bad happen to our children. We can't stop them from getting sick. But, by being good advocates, we can help make sure they get better as quickly as possible. If your child has been injured due to a missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, contact a medical malpractice attorney in your area to learn your options.