Testing for Anemia in Young Children
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Apr 26, 2016
It is a well-known practice in the medical community to routinely screen infants and young children for iron deficiency, anemia and lead poisoning. Typically, these tests take place between the ages of nine and twelve months and again between 18 and 24 months. Lead poisoning is especially common in areas with high rates of poverty, due to poor nutrition and the existence of lead-based paint in many homes built before 1978. A failure to perform the relevant tests can lead to serious illness and even death, if lead poisoning is left untreated.
Diagnosing Lethargy in Children
A Philadelphia doctor recently diagnosed a child with anemia after testing the boy’s hemoglobin level and discovering that he had an iron deficiency. Although the child’s red blood cells were normal sized, and most people with anemia exhibit smaller than normal blood cells, the doctor was confident in his diagnosis. He prescribed an iron supplement and suggested a change in diet. However, two months later, the child’s hemoglobin count had dropped even lower, which was putting a strain on his organs.
After concluding that the boy needed a blood transfusion, a specialist administered another test, which measured how fast red blood cells called reticulocytes are formed by bone marrow, a process that takes around two days. The more anemic a person is, the higher his or her reticulocyte count is supposed to be. Although the boy was indeed anemic, his reticulocyte count was extremely low, indicating that his bone marrow was not producing normally.
Finally, doctors diagnosed the child with transient erythroblastopenia (TEC) which is one of the most common causes of low red blood cell production in children and is almost always detected through routine screening. In this case, the boy required a transfusion of blood cells, but once this procedure was completed, he made a total recovery.
Routine Testing and Personal Injury
One of the most important ways that a court deciding a medical malpractice case determines whether a physician’s actions comport with accepted medical standards is to review academic medical literature. When the problem, like childhood anemia, is a well-known disease, there will be a lot of evidentiary support for its diagnosis and appropriate treatment. TEC was first described in 1970, meaning that the medical community has been aware of the disease, and the appropriate testing protocol, for almost 50 years. A failure to test for this problem, especially in an area where anemia is a common issue for children, can lead to misdiagnosis or improper treatment, which can cause serious injury.
Sometimes, doctors negligently forego testing, which ultimately may expose patients to a high risk of harm. When the appropriate test is well-known in the medical community, then a doctor may be held liable for substandard medical care in a medical malpractice suit.
Call an Attorney Today
If your child has suffered an injury as a result of a misdiagnosis or failure to test for anemia, you may be entitled to the recovery of damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. Please contact Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., for a free consultation.