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Issues stemming from the misdiagnosis of child abuse and neglect

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

A wrong diagnosis is often associated with worsened health conditions. This is very much true for many patients in New Jersey and elsewhere who suffer a misdiagnosis. However, for some children, a diagnostic error could significantly impact their life and possibly their safety. Young children can be risk takers, leading to serious injuries; however, some of these injuries could be the cause of neglect or abuse.

With that in mind, a child suffering a serious health condition could have symptoms that mimic signs of abuse, leading to an improper conclusion. Thus, medical health professionals not only fail to diagnose signs of child abuse or neglect, but they could reach such a conclusion when a child is in fact suffering from a serious ailment.

Misdiagnosis of child abuse and neglect

No one wants to be accused of child abuse or neglect, but when a medical professional fails to diagnose such a situation, this could put the child’s life in danger. In contrast, if a medical professional makes an improper diagnosis for child abuse, this could result in health issues being overlooked and worsened conditions for the child.

Current data suggests that when medical professionals make reports to child-welfare departments regarding child abuse or neglect, they are 40% ore likely to be substantiated when compared to others making such reports. But there are some conflicts with this. Some child-abuse pediatricians are paid in part by the child-welfare department, and in some cases, work directly with attorneys in matters where the state is removing a child from their home. This creates some questions about the authenticity and accuracy of the diagnosis.

Concern with over diagnosis

In some cases, some medical professional may over diagnose child abuse. This is often due to the perceptions that come with families of lower income or nonwhite household. Studies have indicated that socio-economic status and race can play a major role in a medical professional making such a conclusion. This could lead to erroneously diagnosed children as well as additional hardships for the child and their parents.

No matter the type of misdiagnosis, if an individual believes that they or a loved one has been misdiagnosed, there are possible actions to take. In the matter of child-abuse, a misdiagnosis could significantly impact the child’s life, as they could be taken away from their family. Additionally, it could leave them in an abusive situation or result in a medical professional from failing to diagnose a serious health issue. In any case, a medical malpractice action could help not only address the misdiagnosis by holding a medical professional accountable, but it could also assist in the recovery of compensation for any damages or losses suffered.