For 15 years, Doctor Michael Laposata has been figuring out what's wrong with patients when other doctors can't.
His team at Vanderbilt University is the first in the country to bring physicians, clinical pathologists, and lab experts together to break down blood disorders. It's all done on-the-spot - while patients are being treated.
Not long ago - it was a little boy named Craig who was rushed to the hospital. After emergency brain surgery, doctors and nurses immediately blamed his father!
Craig's brain and eye bleeding looked just like Shaken Baby Syndrome.
His father Steve found Doctor Laposata. His tests on Craig didn't reveal shaken baby syndrome, rather a blood disorder called Von Willebrand disease.
A new type of medical team - experts trained to know which test to order and when - could change the lives of millions of others.
Steve said he divorced in 2009 - in part due to the stress of those false accusations. Sadly, he and his ex-wife have no legal recourse, as most child abuse reporting laws protect hospitals and doctors from misdiagnosis. That's why they support creating more teams like these - which are crucial for doctors and patients alike.
BACKGROUND: Child abuse is the physical, sexual or emotional mistreatment or neglect of a child. In the United States alone, there are more than three million reported cases of child abuse every year. However, Dr. Michael Laposata believes up to one in every hundred child abuse cases could actually be misdiagnosed. An incorrect diagnosis of child abuse can occur in children suffering minor accidental trauma who also have undiagnosed bleeding disorders. (SOURCE: National Institute of Health)
THE WRONG DIAGNOSIS: Steve Smith was charged with child abuse after his infant was wrongly diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). SBS is a form of inflicted head trauma that occurs when someone violently shakes a baby or small child. SBS is often fatal and can cause severe brain damage that could result in lifelong disability. Up to half of deaths related to child abuse are reportedly due to SBS. The injuries associated with SBS include retinal hemorrhages, multiple fractures of the long bones, and bleeding in the brain. (SOURCE: www.kidshealth.org)
THE REAL DIAGNOSIS: Steve's baby was later diagnosed with Von Willebrand disease (VWD), which is a bleeding disorder. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, VWD affects the blood's ability to clot. If your blood doesn't clot, you can experience heavy bleeding after an injury. As a result, that aforementioned bleeding can damage your internal organs. In addition, in some rare cases – it can cause death. With VWD, you either have low levels of a certain protein in your blood, or the protein doesn't work the way it is supposed to. VWD occurs in about 1 out of every 100 to 1,000 people. The disease is genetic and can be inherited from either parent. In fact, a man or woman with VWD has a 50 percent chance of passing the gene on to his or her child.
ABOUT THE DOCTOR: Dr. Michael Laposata is the executive vice chairman for the Department of Pathology at Vanderbilt University Hospital and the director of clinical laboratories. Dr. Laposata's clinical expertise is in the field of blood coagulation, with a special expertise in the diagnosis of hypercoagulable states. (SOURCE: American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
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Craig Boerner/ Media Relations
(Information provided by Ivanhoe)