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Pediatricians are doctors who provide general preventative health and medical care to infants, children, and teens. Pediatricians provide a wide range of services, from routine immunizations to treating chronic conditions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 31,000 pediatricians in the United States.
Pediatric Medical Malpractice In Maryland
Pediatricians deal with a wide range of medical conditions in young patients who may not be able to effectively communicate symptoms and health concerns. These doctors will need to monitor their patients and make inferences about their health conditions based on reports from their patients and the patient’s parents. Pediatricians must shoulder a high level of responsibility and care in order to provide their patients with appropriate care.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that about one-third of all pediatricians will face a malpractice suit at some point during their careers. Malpractice in pediatrics tends to have severe consequences.
According to the AAP, one of the most common forms of malpractice in pediatrics is misdiagnosed meningitis. Viral meningitis, as opposed to the less severe bacterial meningitis, causes swelling in the lining of the brain and can quickly become fatal if not treated.
Another common malpractice case in pediatrics stems from injuries associated with misdiagnosed appendicitis. The AAP reports that 27% of infants with appendicitis are misdiagnosed. When left to reach advanced stages (like the appendix bursting), appendicitis can be fatal.
Misdiagnosis is generally a common trend in pediatric malpractice cases. Not all misdiagnoses are negligent, but in most cases a doctor should be able to correct a misdiagnosis after trying ineffective paths and observing their patient.
Medication errors are also common forms of malpractice in pediatrics. These errors most commonly occur when doctors ineffectively communicate the order to the patients, their guardians, and the pharmacies, and when doctors prescribe the wrong medications to their patients.
Many pediatricians are present for the birth of the child, so malpractice cases can also stem from a failure to properly resuscitate a newborn suffering from birth injuries and other complications.
Pediatrician Educational Requirements
Pediatricians are required to complete four years of medical school to earn either a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) degree. After med school, doctors who want to be pediatricians will need to complete a three-year pediatric residency program where residents will learn about general pediatrics and newborn care.
After residency, pediatricians can choose to spend two years sub-specializing in a field like neonatal-perinatal medicine, adolescent medicine, cardiology, radiology, surgery, critical care or infectious diseases.
Licensing Requirements For Pediatricians In Maryland
All doctors need to pass a state-level exam to practice medicine. The requirements will vary by state. A medical license enables a doctor to practice any type of medicine but does not show that a doctor has qualifications in one specific area.
To prove competency in a specific area of medicine, doctors can become board certified in their specialty. Board certification is voluntary but is generally seen as the only way for doctors to prove expertise in a specific medical field. Pediatricians can become board certified by the American Board of Certification.
Board certified pediatricians will need to maintain their certification by earning continuing education credits, passing evaluations on medical knowledge and professionalism, and by taking an exam every 10 years.
Where Pediatricians Work In Maryland
Pediatricians generally work out of medical offices and private practices, but may also work in hospitals permanently or on a temporary basis for specific patient needs. Pediatricians can also work in health organizations, community health centers, schools, or in the government. The average salary of a pediatrician is $157,610.
Use our local medical malpractice guide to find hospitals that may be associated with pediatric malpractice throughout Maryland.
How Pediatricians Help Children
Pediatricians serve as primary care specialists for infants, children, teens, and young adults up to age 21. These doctors provide a range of services to their patients that may include wellness visits, immunizations, diagnostic tests, physical examinations, growth and development tracking, and the management of complex or chronic medical conditions.
Pediatric physicians provide preventative health examinations, and will have wellness appointments many times a year for the first three years of a child’s life, and then will continue to see the child at least once a year until they move on to an adult medicine doctor. They will also see patients who are experiencing symptoms, like an earache or a sore throat, and will assess, diagnose, and treat the underlying condition.
Pediatricians can treat conditions like:
- Chronic conditions
- Behavioral difficulties
- Developmental disorders
- Depression and anxiety
Pediatricians work with many young patients who may be afraid of needles and other health care tools, so these doctors must be able to connect with children and make them feel comfortable receiving care.
Working with children means that pediatricians must have excellent communication and people skills so they can communicate with patients from 2 years old to 21 years old, but must also be able to also effectively communicate with their patients’ guardians about concerns, symptoms, treatments, and other important health information.
When a patient’s condition requires more in-depth care and treatment, pediatricians will refer patients to specialists. Pediatricians should also keep detailed records on their patients’ health so that even when they are referred to specialists, the pediatricians will have a detailed account of the patient’s personal health history.
Experienced Maryland Pediatric Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Pediatricians bear a high degree of responsibility to the children they treat. Children often cannot speak up for themselves, so their doctors need to be extra careful in listening to the child’s parents and treating symptoms without harming the child.
It is devastating to see a child suffer from a negligent error by a doctor. If your child has suffered serious injuries from a pediatrician, call our offices today to schedule a free consultation and begin your case.