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Pediatric medicine: yes, kids are different from adults

Kids -- that is, toddlers, children, young adolescents and even teens -- are starkly different from adults in virtually every realm of comparison or measurement.

Our readers in Arizona know that, as do people across the rest of the country.

Children are works in progress. They are constantly growing, maturing, and often testing the parameters of right and wrong, cultivating judgment.

In short, they are would-be but not-there-yet adults, fundamentally because it takes times to reach that human plateau.

The child-like qualities that make them, well, children, can be of material significance in the realm of medicine.

Put another way: Most adults can far better identify and articulate problematic medical symptoms -- that is, illnesses and adverse conditions -- than kids can, meaning that older persons are much more likely to see the need for medical care when it is necessary and to timely take action to get it.

As we note on the Phoenix Pediatric Medical Malpractice page of our website at Harris, Powers & Cunningham, "children may not be aware of a particular illness or affliction when it arises." Moreover, "they may not be able to effectively describe their symptoms."

That makes it an imperative that pediatricians and other doctors children see  exercise the professional competence that is reasonably required to identify and treat medical conditions. The failure to do so can transform a treatable illness into a serious ailment or something far more ominous, namely, a lifelong disability or even a potentially fatal medical crisis.

Doctors are humans, of course, and never tasked with being infallible in any court of law.

What is reasonably expected of them, though, is competence that accords with the regular standard of care as practiced by their peers. That means knowledge displayed and actions taken that are devoid of negligence.

Material departures from accepted norms of safety and responsibility are not tolerated in any industry. For obvious reasons, that is of even heightened truth in the realm of medicine, where mistakes can entail fatal consequences for persons justifiably relying on a practitioner's competence.

That reliance is nowhere more evident than when a child presents himself or herself for medical diagnosis and treatment.

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