Polio-Like Illness Often Misdiagnosed in Children?

When an illness is misdiagnosed in children it can be very troubling for parents and cause serious injury to a child. A medical misdiagnosis can prevent treatments that could have resolved the illness before it got worse. According to a 2018 study out of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, there’s a good chance that some cases of the mysterious polio-like illness, Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), have been misdiagnosed in American children.

If your child is suffering because of a misdiagnosis involving AFM, contact a local medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your legal rights as soon as possible.

What is AFM?

AFM is a rare neurological condition that primarily affects children and can cause sudden weakness or life-threatening paralysis in the arms or legs. The illness has been recurring in the United States in every-other-year waves since 2014. According to data from the CDC acute flaccid myelitis AFM cases have occurred in 49 states and the District of Columbia. As of April 3, 2023, there has been one confirmed case in one state but in 2022, there were 44 confirmed cases in 24 states and in 2021, there were 28 confirmed cases in 15 states.

Consequences of AFM misdiagnosis

Timely and accurate diagnosis of AFM is essential to ensure that children receive appropriate treatment and support to minimize the impact of the condition.

Misdiagnosis of acute flaccid myelitis in children can have significant consequences. Delayed or incorrect diagnosis can result in late treatment, which can lead to further neurological damage and long-term disability. When severe cases are left untreated, it can lead to respiratory failure, which can be life-threatening.

Misdiagnosis can also lead to unnecessary testing and potentially harmful treatments. For example, if AFM is misdiagnosed as a bacterial infection, the child may receive unnecessary antibiotics, which can contribute to antibiotic resistance and other adverse effects.

In addition, misdiagnosis can also have a negative psychological and emotional impact on the child and their family as they grapple with confusion and anxiety about what is going on with their child.

If you suspect that your child may have AFM or any other serious condition, it is important to seek medical attention immediately and advocate for the appropriate diagnostic testing and care even if that means getting a second opinion.

Why is Polio-Like Illness Often Misdiagnosed in Children?

AFM is diagnosed through a combination of clinical and laboratory findings, starting with a review of the patient’s medical history and a physical exam. Common tests include an MRI, spinal tap, blood tests, and nerve and muscle testing.

Some of the reasons why AFM may get misdiagnosed include:

  1. Similar symptoms. AFM can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms are sometimes similar to symptoms that also present in other conditions that affect the nervous system, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and transverse myelitis.
  2. Lack of awareness. AFM is a relatively new and rare condition so not all healthcare providers are familiar with it or its symptoms and diagnostic criteria. As a result, they may mistake it for other conditions.
  3. Lack of set diagnostic protocol. There is no specific diagnostic test for AFM, and the only way to diagnose it is through a combination of clinical and laboratory findings.

The Seattle Personal Injury Lawyers You Want on Your Side

The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced injury attorneys.