Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
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Elkhorn, WI

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Medical malpractice: Infants at risk with vaccine error

Each year, there are a number of discrepancies that arise within the medical establishment, including physician dishonesty, medication miscalculations and packaging errors. Infants, children, adults and the elderly are all at risk for medical malpractice issues that may result. Presently, it seems that the mix-up between the pediatric and adult forms of a vaccine for whooping cough is the cause of concern across the United States, and it is something that Wisconsin residents may want to educate themselves about.

One of the known vaccines for infants is the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) and is able to protect an infant from three different diseases. Adults as well as older children receive a booster shot known as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) once, and then a booster of tetanus and diphtheria every decade thereafter.

The capitalization of the letters in these vaccine names represent that there is more of that particular component. Therefore, the children’s version has more of the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis components for stronger protection against these diseases than the adult form, which has more of the tetanus component than the other components in its dosage.

The problem is that infants seem to be receiving the adult Tdap dosage instead of the necessary DTaP, leaving them unprotected from these diseases and requiring that the infant be revaccinated. However, the mistake often goes unrecognized. Recently, Washington has reported a whooping cough outbreak which the state health department has termed an epidemic, with more reported cases this year as compared to last year.

If you believe that your infant has been given the wrong vaccine, it may be important to learn your rights in such a sensitive matter, including the fact that Wisconsin law allows for a medical malpractice claim when such negligence results in serious injury to another. You will need to gather all the facts and evidence to determine how to proceed. In the meantime, it may be wise to have the office nurse and yourself double-check the vaccine before it is administered.

Source: Philly.com, “A recurring vaccine error puts infants at risk,” Michael Cohen, April 10, 2012

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