What is misdiagnosis?

If you’ve needed to take your child to the doctor for any reason, you know it can be a difficult experience. The suggestions from the Doctor can mean a drastic change in lifestyle for both yourself and your child. So to find out that the diagnosis was wrong can be traumatising.

To understand the different kinds of misdiagnosis, we will deal with the subject in two categories: children whose disability is misdiagnosed, including conditions such as ADHD; and children whose sickness is misdiagnosed, including illnesses such as meningitis.

Disability misdiagnosis

A recent report has suggested as many as half of special needs children are misdiagnosed. This number may seem quite alarming at first, so it’s important to remember a misdiagnosis is not necessarily an all clear. It can also mean the child does have a disability, but that it has been incorrectly diagnosed.

One issue is that many afflictions such as autism, ADHD, or social anxiety have overlapping symptoms that can be easily misdiagnosed. Another is that it is very common for highly able children to seem like they have a disability when in fact they are just showing their personality. Elaine Hook from Special Educational Needs Magazine, which is distributed to all special needs schools in the UK, says:

“It is very common for highly able children to have characteristics, traits and quirks that mimic or overlap with other needs or disorders. This can easily lead to the misdiagnosis of conditions such as ADHD, ODD, OCD, autistic spectrum disorders and even bipolar disorder.”

Sickness misdiagnosis

Another type of misdiagnosis we see is when children are diagnosed with a sickness from which they do not suffer. Sadly this can sometimes mean that the child is put on a course of antibiotics or strong medication to treat the nonexistent cause of the nonexistent problem.

Unfortunately, we sometimes find that a misdiagnosis has extended from medical negligence, perhaps because of the strain on resources, the need to save time, or other demands to save money. No matter what the cause is however, it will never feel satisfactory if the worst happens to your child.

In a case during April last year reports tell the story of Kelsey Smart, a five year old girl who was twice misdiagnosed with gastroenteritis, when she in fact had meningitis. It is possible she may have survived had the real illness been sooner detected.

What do you do when you suspect misdiagnosis?

It can be hard to criticise the diagnosis given by your doctor, but it is important to trust yourself, trust your judgement, and monitor the feelings of your child after diagnosis.

Take as many precautions as you can. Visit the Doctor and ask many questions relating to your child and the condition. Take notes, perhaps mentally at first and then write them down later. Try to have a record of everything said at the consultation so that you always have a point of reference.

Finally, when necessary, see if you can obtain multiple professional opinions, as this can help you to confirm whether the diagnosis has been correct.

If you need any legal support surrounding any of these issues get in contact with Davis Blank Furniss on 0800 0284 396 for an initial consultation. No matter what the issue is, we will help you.

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