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Women's Health: Postpartum Community
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Avatar universal

A Child's Malpractice Case : What Would You Do?

If I were to type out my son's story, it would go on for pages so I will leave this pretty brief.  For 2 years my pediatrician told me that my son's symptoms were normal, and finally after a year of almost no growth I decided to find a new doctor.  The new doctor gave me an instant referral to a specialist and within a few months he was diagnosed with Hirschsprung's disease.  

Because of his late diagnosis, he had to have two surgeries instead of one and will likely continue to have a real struggle with potty training which has caused both an emotional and financial hardship in the family and for my son.  

I have a lawyer who believes that I have a case and was willing to fund the expert because of this belief... however financial circumstances arose and they were no longer able to provide that funding.  I of course have no money in such a large sum to pay for an expert but the statute of limitations is going to be arriving here this spring and so I have a decision to make.  

What would you do?  Would you just let it go and forget about it or try to find a way to pay for the expert?  Do I believe that I have a case?  Most certainly.  Do I still to this day feel furious?  Definitely.  I guess I just feel already defeated that in order to pursue anything you need to have an expert who costs so much.  
6 Responses
13167 tn?1327197724
Bearhitch,  I think you need more information before deciding how to proceed.

First,  I think you need to be ABSOLUTELY SURE that the medical community as a whole would agree that this delay caused your son to have two surgeries.  (As I understand it,  there are different thoughts with different surgeries,  and some doctors opt for two instead of one.  You don't want to learn this in court during the defense phase of the case.)   Second,  whether this delay caused your son to have the toileting issues he has,  or whether children diagnosed and treated very very early on also should expect to experience these same toileting delays.  Again,  you don't want to learn this in court.

I think if I were you I'd write a letter to that doctor's certifying board (American Academy of Pediatrics,  I guess,  as well as your state certifying board for doctors) and explain what happened and allow them to take action if it is warranted.

Prayers for your sons complete recovery.  This must be very hard.
171768 tn?1324233699
I agree with what RockRose said. I also would want to add that you need to consider what you want out of this. Will your son have special needs that will be a financial burden for the rest of his life? Does insurance cover everything and will it in the future? What is the prognosis?
If you see this being a financial strain in the future, then I would consider it, after you look into what rockrose suggested. If you are doing this because you are upset and frustrated with the pediatrician, then I might reconsider. I realize you omitted details in the interest of saving us from reading a lengthy post, but was it unreasonable for the ped to say a period of slow/no growth was normal? Where there other signs that went unnoticed? If you were that concerned, was there a reason that you wait so long to get a second opinion?
I understand your frustration and would probably thinking the same things as you if I were in that position. I am just presenting these questions as an unrelated person looking at this for the first time without an emotional investment.
Avatar universal
Well my son wasn't having bowel movements, he had severe constipation.  At his 2 year checkup, when he had only grown an inch, I asked the ped what he thought a child this age would've grown with heights such as mine and my husband's and he said 5-7".  So I continued playing "dumb" and asked what would cause growth delays and when he listed chronic constipation - something I had been bringing up for 2 years and had gotten so bad DS wouldn't go for 3 weeks, would spike a low grade fever and was starting to do vomiting but he kept saying this was normal - it took all there was in me to  be polite.  I switched doctors the next day.  

Insurance does not cover everything - we've already had to include a significant line item in our budget to cover the only cream we've found to work on his bottom for the diaper rash and as for in the future, I won't have enough time to find out because of the statute of limitations on such cases expires this spring.  

When Isaac was in for his surgery, my great ability to play dumb was able to illicit all information and every surgeon agreed with me there that this a) should've been referred a whole lot sooner and that b) the colostomy bag would not have been necessary if it had because his colon wouldn't of become so dilated.  
171768 tn?1324233699
are the doctors who handled him at the hospital not considered experts? Excuse my ignorance on the whole process... Have you tried contacting said "experts" to see if they would be willing to testify? I am a little confused as to why you would have to pay an exorbitant fee to get the opinion of a physician.  
Or, if the first lawyer had such confidence in the case, can you go to another firm?
Avatar universal
Well, from my understanding local doctors are very hesitant to testify against other local doctors, and so they usually bring in someone from another area.  In addition, the basis of the case would be based on a pediatrician's point of view as a standard of care was not met, so that would need to be the expert not a surgeon, to say that yes - he should've done something.  

As for the experts, I am not even sure how.  It is $1,800 to have an expert and from what I've been able to find, its not out of line.  All of my son's medical files would be sent to him, he'd evaluate and determine if there was a case.  If so, then the attorney takes it on where if I lose we don't pay anything which is why I need to have a secured expert first to determine if I had a solid case.  So this is the case with every other firm I've contacted as well and I think is just a common case with malpractice suits  :S
Avatar universal
This is a tricky case because you have to be able to prove that the doctors should have known and were acting out of either malice or complete incompetence. It could be that the doctors you had, unfortunately, while they "should" have known, they were making what they felt was the best assessment based on previous cases and their own knowledge base. Here's the thing, it sounds like you are going to have a full plate just trying to support your son through this disease and surgeries. And, if you end up going to court, your ability to be with him and to focus solely on him will be divided. I would suggest that instead you seek out support groups, educate yourself as much as you can, find treatments that will help and just be there for him. If you knew 100% that in going forward you had a case and you could get the money for his long-term care, it would be worth it, however, nothing is going to vindicate you beyond what you have now (you have your answers, you know what went wrong) and you are better off putting the past behind you and moving forward without bitterness that could filter down to him. Focus all your energy in being the best mom to him, moving him forward in his progress and close the chapter on the past. You sound like you'd have a case, but at what cost and at what risks? Whatever money and time spent right now could be best set aside to be put into his care in the future. If another lawyer was willing to take your case without fees, great, but other than that, if it were me, I wouldn't want to take the risk of losing out on money, time, effort -these things you can't get back (as you sadly have already discovered).
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