Doctor didn't treat Failure to Thrive...

by Chris
(Forrest City, Arkansas)

The doctor our son was seeing from birth failed to care for him properly. We used this doctor for about 4.5 months. During that time she saw him maybe 1 time, all the other visits he was seen by the nurse practitioner. She kept telling us he was fine every time we asked why he wasn't getting any bigger.

When he turned 5 months old we picked up our son and could count every rib in his body, so we finally changed doctors. The doctor we changed him to walked in the room, didn't pick him up or touch him, but immediately could see something was wrong with him. He was to small for his age. They looked at his weight and not only had he lost weight he wasn't even close to being on the growth chart.

The new doctor sent us to a pediatric gastroenterologist. When the GI looked at our son he admitted him to the hospital. He spent over a week with a feeding tube and all kinds of tests being run.

Wasn't it the first doctor's job to monitor our son's weight and growth, and refer him to a specialist if appropriate? How could our first doctor miss failure to thrive and the next doctor see immediately without knowing anything about him? What recourse do we have against the first doctor? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Doctor didn't treat Failure to Thrive...":

Chris (Forrest City, Arkansas):

From the facts you present you may have the basis of a malpractice case against the primary doctor. Medical malpractice is legally defined as having occurred when a doctor's actions or omissions deviated from the medical standard of care in the medical community, and as a result a patient was injured.

While you didn't mention whether the primary doctor was a pediatric specialist I'll assume she was. When it comes to medical malpractice, pediatricians have a higher legal duty of care than general practitioners.

Gather copies of all your child's medical records. You have a legal right to them. Upon receiving your request, the doctor has a reasonable amount of time to produce them, which might be between one to two weeks.

Malpractice cases require the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney. Doctors rarely if ever will admit to having committed malpractice. Additionally, most doctors are heavily insured.

Because of the inordinately high premiums doctors pay, insurance companies are loathe to settle any cases. As a result, you can be confident a malpractice suit will have to be filed. Pretrial discovery will ensue, including depositions of the doctor, his nurse practitioner, office staff, and others with knowledge about your child's case. Records will have to be subpoenaed as well. Expert witnesses will have to be hired to testify on your child's behalf, and more.

Most medical malpractice attorneys will not charge for an initial office consultation. They work on a contingency basis so you wont have to pay any money in advance. Consult with several until you find one you have confidence in.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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