According to the Los Angeles Times, the doctors who examined each of the eight infants who died from whooping cough failed to make swift and accurate diagnoses. As stated by an immunization official with the California Department of Public Health, “[B]y the time the infants developed severe respiratory distress, it was usually too late for any intervention to prevent their tragic deaths.” A UCLA pediatrics professor added, “All of those should’ve been diagnosed earlier. And a couple of them, even after they were diagnosed, the [healthcare providers] didn’t take it serious enough, quick enough.”
Coincidentally, an article posted in Tuesday’s New York Times quotes a professor of medicine from the University of California, San Francisco as identifying diagnostic errors as “an important but neglected issue.”
When the failure to diagnose an illness leads to the wrongful death of a loved one, the surviving members may have a claim for medical malpractice. Whether a proper and timely diagnosis could have saved these infants lives will undoubtedly be evaluated by those involved.
In order to prevent more whooping cough deaths, more must be done to raise awareness of the symptoms, and those who’ve been exposed must receive immediate and proper treatment. Counties such as Santa Clara and San Mateo are sending out information packets to students and hosting free vaccination clinics. Click here for more information on whooping cough.
As a California personal injury attorney I am hopeful with greater public awareness and better-informed health care professionals, the incidence of whooping cough will rapidly diminish. If you or you believe a delayed diagnosis contributed to the wrongful death or serious injury of a loved one, please contact the Law Office of Frederick J. Sette, dedicated to helping the injured.