You are not alone if your child’s health and safety are top priorities in life. In fact, you may be willing to drop everything to get your child to an Illinois doctor, urgent care facility or emergency room when he or she exhibits troubling symptoms or complaints. What you may not realize is that your child’s doctor may not be as attentive to your concerns as you would wish.

In fact, recent studies show that pediatricians often suffer from fatigue and burnout that can severely reduce their abilities to make accurate and prompt diagnoses. Medical errors are reportedly the third most common cause of death in the country, and the rate of such errors in busy ERs and pediatricians’ offices can be unacceptably high.

Is your doctor paying attention?

Pediatricians must be especially patient, ask the right questions and order the appropriate tests to get to the root cause of a child’s distress. This takes time and focus, both of which can be rare in a high-stress setting like an emergency room or busy doctor’s office.

Too often, doctors overlook critical symptoms or events in a child or family history. They may even dismiss concerns of other medical professionals and focus on a single, wrong diagnosis. Perhaps most disturbing is the rate of interruptions doctors deal with while examining patients. Your doctor may receive phone calls, texts, pages and questions from other staff members while trying to determine what is wrong with your child.

Communication is key

While you stand there feeling anxious, does your doctor talk to you, explain what is happening or describe the tests they will run for your child? Failing to take these steps may save the doctor time, but it may complicate your child’s health. How will you know when to ask about a symptom the doctor has overlooked, side effects to be aware of or the best way to follow through with treatment if your doctor does not communicate with you?

Additionally, harried and weary doctors may not communicate well with their colleagues, which can be critical during the diagnostic process. Medical errors also occur when doctors neglect to monitor their patients and follow up with them, missing new or worsening symptoms, which can result in long-term complications or worse.

What to do?

If you feel your pediatrician is not giving his or her full attention to your child, you have the right to speak up for your child’s welfare. You can also get a second opinion. However, if it is too late and your child has already suffered because of the negligence or misdiagnosis of a doctor, you can send a strong message by seeking justice through the civil courts.

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