Abdominal pain is one of the most common reasons that patients visit the emergency room. While many times these pains are related to gastric distress, reproductive system disorders, or other relatively benign causes, sometimes this pain is actually coming from an inflamed or ruptured appendix.
Because abdominal pain is so common, doctors can miss symptoms of appendicitis, making it one of the top reasons that medical malpractice lawsuits are filed. When appendicitis is not caught early the organ can burst, spilling infection into the abdominal cavity. When this happens, a routine surgical removal can become a medical emergency that needs immediate attention.
When the appendix becomes inflamed and infected, patients may feel generalized pain. They may not feel well overall, and their abdomen may be sore. They may also lack any appetite, or feel nauseous. The most classic sign of appendicitis is pain in the lower right section of the abdomen, but this is sign is lacking in almost half of patients with appendicitis. The patient’s abdominal pain will tend to get worse with deep breathing, coughing, or any jostling of the abdomen.
Because the symptoms of appendicitis can be so vague, the condition is often misdiagnosed as the flu or another illness. Nearly a third of all cases of appendicitis progress to a ruptured appendix before the condition is caught. When the appendix ruptures, infection from the organ can seep out into the abdominal cavity, causing an infection called peritonitis. Peritonitis can progress to sepsis, or blood poisoning, which is fatal if left untreated.
Treatment for appendicitis usually requires surgery to remove the diseased organ. While this surgery is fairly routine, any operation carries risks. Operating on a ruptured appendix is especially dangerous because the infection leaking from the appendix can be spread into surrounding tissues. In some cases, doctors may treat an inflamed or ruptured appendix with strong antibiotics before operating to remove it.
Is A Missed Diagnosis Malpractice?
In order for a doctor to properly diagnose or rule out appendicitis, he or she needs to ask a series of questions and run appropriate tests. If a doctor fails to be thorough enough and misses the condition, the patient may have a claim for medical malpractice.
Doctors should analyze their patients’ abdominal pain, and determine when it started, which part of the stomach hurts, if the pain has moved, and whether anything makes the pain better or worse. In addition, the doctor should do a physical examination, including palpating the stomach, to check for an enlarged or painful appendix. Finally, the physician should also look for symptoms of infection, and order blood tests or CT scans to diagnose the condition.
When a doctor fails to do these things, there is a high risk that the patient’s appendicitis will progress and the appendix will rupture. Once symptoms begin, an infected appendix can rupture or burst within 24 hours. A missed diagnosis which leads to further injury is a classic medical malpractice claim, which is why appendicitis is one of the most common reasons for a medical negligence lawsuit.
If a doctor failed to diagnose your appendicitis, contact the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D. Esq. As both a medical doctor and an attorney, Dr. Kramer and his team of experienced legal and medical professionals can review your claim and help you fight back against medical negligence.
For a free consultation, contact us by calling (310) 289-2600 and speak with an experienced Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney today.