Malpractice cases involving children with epilepsy are bound to arise given serious deficits in knowledge about epilepsy among primary care providers and behavioral health specialists who treat these children. The Journal of the American Epilepsy Society reports on a survey showing that a high percentage of pediatricians and family practice physicians were not familiar with certain key aspects of epilepsy, including surgery as a treatment option when medicine fails and the risk of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).
Researchers found that 35% of those surveyed “were unsure if failing more than six medications constituted pharmacoresistance.” Patients who are refractory to medical management may benefit from surgery. One researcher called these erroneous attitudes “heartbreaking.”
Another survey found that behavioral health professionals who deal with epileptic children, including psychologists, nurses, clinical social workers and physicians, were not comfortable managing psychiatric disorders that often accompany epilepsy. These include anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder, ADHD and sleep apnea.
When a pediatrician, psychologist, psychiatrist or family practice physician undertakes to treat a child with epilepsy, they are expected to be proficient and knowledgeable about the condition and its treatment options. If a caregiver does not have proper training to treat and advise patients, they owe a duty to refer the patient to a skilled consultant or specialist. Under Ohio law, the breach of a duty of care is considered to be medical malpractice if it results in harm to the patient. A number of special considerations apply in cases involving children, so it is best to consult an experience medical negligence lawyer as soon as possible after a child is injured due to a medical error.