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Why are children so difficult to diagnose?

When your child is sick, you trust your Arizona pediatrician to ask the right questions, run the right tests, and then come up with an effective treatment plan. However, in many cases, a parent's trust may be misplaced. According to, one insurance company providing medical malpractice policies to pediatricians revealed that 61 percent of the claims against these doctors were for a wrong diagnosis.

Pediatricians face unique difficulties that other doctors may not encounter. For example, your child may not be able to tell the doctor what is wrong. Instead, you provide a list of symptoms, and you may not know, for example, whether your child is lethargic because of fatigue, shortness of breath, a headache or some other issue that an older child would be able to describe. Another challenge your child's doctor faces is the similarity in symptoms across many vastly different conditions. For example, flu-like symptoms could be a sign of lyme disease. If your child has a hard time paying attention, it could be one symptom of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but it is also a common sign of a sleep disorder.

You may think of pediatricians as specialists in child medicine, but in fact, most are general practitioners. As such, they are not likely to have special training in recognizing diseases such as cancer or more rare conditions. When the doctor does offer a possible diagnosis, do not hesitate to ask questions about the reasons behind the conclusion. It is also a good idea to visit a specialist to get a second opinion. This information is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as medical or legal advice.

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