Pediatric malpractice claims can be terrifying, both for the parents who may mistakenly feel they failed to protect their children as well as for the children who are helpless victims. Indeed, not all healthcare professionals possess the requisite amount of elevated medical knowledge or experience for pediatric patients, resulting in injury.
Where a hospital or pediatrician fails to exercise a duty of care over their minor patients, such that the child’s condition becomes worse and/or dies, parents may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim.
Iowa Pediatric Malpractice Attorney
If your child has suffered pediatric malpractice due to the carelessness of another, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. At McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C., our lawyers can fight on your behalf and seek the damages that your family deserves.
Iowa Code §599.1 grants Parents the legal authority to make medical decisions on behalf of their children. Under general common law or law developed through the judicial system rather than an elected body, healthcare providers must obtain parental consent before providing any medical care, treatment, or services to a minor. While this is the standard, there are some instances where parental consent is not required such as minors seeking contraceptive services, HIV/Aids Care, non-medical public health services, substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and victim counseling and/or treatment. Given the nature of emergencies, under Iowa Code §147A.10(2), parental consent is not needed before rendering emergency medical, surgical, hospital, or health services to a minor where the parent or guardian is not “reasonably available” to provide consent.
Right to Sue
Under Iowa law, minors are legally incompetent to sue or be sued until they turn 18. Therefore, a minor’s parent, conservator, or guardian must bring a medical malpractice claim on their behalf. As of 2007, Parents can also bring parental claims for damages and services if their children were severely injured or did not survive as the result of an accident.
Statute of Limitations In Pediatric Claims
While generally, the statute of limitations, (the time frame an individual must file a lawsuit,) for medical malpractice claims in Iowa is two years after the date an injury is discovered for adults, the timeframe may look different for minors. Under Iowa Code § 614.19, if a minor was under the age of eight at the time of the alleged injury, the lawsuit must be commenced by their 10th birthday, or within two years of the date of the injury, whichever is sooner. If parents or guardians of children under the age of 10 feel their minor may have been injured due to medical malpractice, they should meet with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure they do not miss this statutory deadline.
Types Of Claims
According to American Academy of Pediatrics, 21% of pediatricians have been the subject of a claim or a lawsuit at some point in their careers.
Medical malpractice claims for minors will largely mirror that of adults as the same legal requirements must be met. For both adults and minors, a claimant must show by a preponderance of the evidence that a physician failed to exercise the required degree of skill, care, and learning which would have been exercised by physicians in similar circumstances, and that this failure to do so caused the patient injury and damages.
While many medical professionals exercise a high degree of careful preparation throughout a child’s deliveries, injuries can still occur. While some injuries, although still frightening for parents, may heal within weeks, others can change the course of a child’s life. Examples of birth-related claims include:
- Skull fractures: caused by misuse of medical instruments during delivery can fracture a child’s skill, causing permanent physical and intellectual disabilities.
- Jaundice: while jaundice, a yellowing of the skin of newborns, is common, when left untreated, it can cause permanent brain damage.
- Brain damage: can result from a lack of appropriate oxygen during birth, physical head injuries when exiting the birth canal, or viral and bacterial infections.
- Brachial plexus injuries: caused by damage to a network of nerves running along the spine, shoulders, arms, and hands when these nerves are pulled or stretched too hard.
- Failure to perform a C-section: failure to perform a C-section, when necessary, can lead to serious injuries due to prolonged and forced vaginal delivery.
Unfortunately, birth injuries can have lifelong impacts on children who may require ongoing specialized medical care for the rest of their lives and are therefore often financially and emotionally exhausting for families. Families who fear their child has suffered birth injuries should contact attorneys immediately to discuss claims and plans for compensation.
Pediatric Negligence Claims
The most common medical malpractice claim for pediatricians are medical diagnoses errors, including failure to diagnose as well as a misdiagnosis. This is especially important when taking into consideration the higher degree of skill and knowledge pediatricians must possess as minors’ bodies are still developing and growing and must be examined and treated differently than adults.
Malpractice claims can also be brought for medication errors in instances when pediatricians prescribe the wrong course of medication for children or fail to consider things like their allergies, family history, etc. Medication malpractice claims are especially more common for babies and toddlers, who have not yet developed an immune system that can fight foreign substances within their bodies.
Surgical error claims may also be brought against pediatricians for issues such as nerve injuries, anesthetic errors, improper incisions, etc. Jurys also tend to award larger awards to minors in some instances, taking into consideration the degree of damage medical errors can have on their developing bodies as well as their heightened experience of pain and suffering.
American Academy of Pediatrics – Access the official website for the American Academy of Pediatrics to view an article on trends in pediatric malpractice claims 1987–2015.
Medical News Today: Medical Malpractice – Access the official website for Medical News Today to read information on medical malpractice, types of error, and potential damages a plaintiff can obtain.
West Des Moines Pediatric Malpractice Attorney | Polk County, Iowa
If your child has been harmed by pediatric malpractice, contact our skilled personal injury attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. We carry over 3 decades of experience in handling medical malpractice claims. You can trust us to provide the superior representation, personal attention and results you want.
McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. practices throughout the greater Polk County and Dallas County area including Perry, Waukee, De Soto, Johnston, Altoona, Polk City and West Des Moines. Call (515) 279-9700 to secure a free consultation today with McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C..