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Recording Physical Growth and Development

Carefully recorded charts of a child's growth and development are critical to detecting long-term developmental problems and chronic illnesses with gradual onset. The child's physical development should be recorded on height and weight charts. Height and weight should be recorded at regular intervals, and weights should be taken at every visit. Weights should be measured at every pediatric visit for acute illness. A physician cannot access hydration or weight loss in a small child if there is no record of the child's weight before the onset of the illness.

The data should be plotted at the time they are taken. The most legally damaging situation is to have height and weight information recorded in the child's chart but not plotted. It is impossible to evaluate changes in these data without comparing them to previous measurements and the norms on the charts. When the physician's care is questioned, the plaintiff's attorney will plot the data to demonstrate to the jury that the physician should have seen problems.

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