Is Failure To Diagnose Appendicitis Medical Malpractice? 

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One of the more common causes of a medical malpractice claim is a misdiagnosis of appendicitis. Despite appendicitis being a common ailment, it can be complicated to diagnose. Typically, the condition is appropriately diagnosed, but in some instances, patients experience symptoms that are not typical for the condition and make the condition very difficult to discern. 

A prompt diagnosis is critical when you have appendicitis. If the appendix does not get promptly removed when there is an onset of symptoms, the patient could suffer from a superimposed infection, the development of an abscess, a perforation, or in severe cases, life-threatening sepsis. If the appendix perforates or bursts, the surgery to remove the appendix becomes far more complex, and surgical complications can then arise as well.

Properly Diagnosing Appendicitis 

The appendix is a small tube that is attached to the large intestine. Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix. While the appendix used to serve a purpose in the human body thousands of years ago, the appendix no longer serves a critical function, so it is removed when it becomes inflamed causing symptoms. The common symptoms of appendicitis include vomiting, nausea, right lower quadrant pain, and a loss of appetite. Some of the less common symptoms include indigestion, exhaustion, gas, and bowel problems. 

Physicians should order a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and perform a thorough physical exam before they rule out appendicitis. In most cases of appendicitis, the white cell count is elevated. After reviewing the CBC, the physician should be able to rule out appendicitis. Appendicitis is sometimes confused with other conditions that may have similar symptoms, including cecal diverticulitis, Crohn’s Disease, and gynecological issues. 

If a patient believes that he or she has a case of malpractice as a result of the failure to diagnose appendicitis, then the medical malpractice attorney that he or she hires must thoroughly review documentation and medical records in order to determine if the physician adequately or timely diagnosed the condition or followed the diagnostic procedures that were expected to be followed in order to diagnose appendicitis. 

Proving Medical Malpractice 

Just because you were misdiagnosed does not automatically mean that malpractice was committed. The physician must breach the standard of care as compared to what a careful physician would do in a similar situation. Any patient who seeks medical care because of a health problem should expect the doctor to make a differential diagnosis, which means the doctor will consider all possible conditions and then rule them out based on patient history, test results, and symptoms.

For a physician to be held liable legally for a misdiagnosis of appendicitis, the patient and his or her medical malpractice lawyer will need to retain a medical expert who will testify how the physician failed to arrive at the right diagnosis but should have. For example, if the physician failed to order a CBC or failed to order imaging before he or she ruled out appendicitis, and the appendix thereafter ruptured, that could be deemed malpractice.

Enlist The Help of a Medical Malpractice Attorney 

If you believe your appendicitis misdiagnosis was medical malpractice, you should speak to a Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney. Get a free case evaluation from the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. An attorney will review the details of your case and promptly determine if you have a viable medical malpractice case. 

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