One common cause of medical malpractice is the misdiagnosis of appendicitis. Emergency room physicians sometimes dismiss the symptoms of appendicitis. The diagnosis of appendicitis, however, can be complex. It is typically diagnosed correctly; however, there are instances when a patient may experience symptoms that are atypical of a condition with the appendix.
Timely diagnosis of appendicitis is critical. If the appendix is not removed promptly upon the onset of symptoms, the patient could experience severe infections, including sepsis which can be life-threatening. Also, surgical complications usually arise once the appendix bursts.
How is Appendicitis Properly Diagnosed?
If a patient feels like he or she has a case for misdiagnosis, the attorney hired must first examine if the physician properly diagnosed – or at least followed the diagnostic procedure expected – to rule out appendicitis.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, which is a small tube that attaches itself to the large intestine. It does not serve a critical function to the body, which is why it is removed when it becomes inflamed.
A physician typically looks for the common symptoms, which may include nausea and vomiting, right lower quadrant pain, and inability to eat.
There are other symptoms that occur with appendicitis, but these are off-the-wall symptoms, such as bowel issues, gas, indigestion, and exhaustion.
To rule out an issue with the appendix, physicians should order a Complete Blood Count (CBC). This tells them if there is an elevated white cell count, which occurs in most appendicitis cases. Once physicians review the CBC count and determine there is an issue, they should be able to rule out if the appendix is causing the elevated white blood count.
Common Conditions Misdiagnosed
Appendicitis is commonly confused with other conditions because some of these conditions have similar symptoms. Some conditions that may be diagnosed instead of appendicitis are:
- Cecal Diverticulitis – Bleeding that occurs inside the colon. The patient may have a colon exam to rule out this condition. Symptoms are nearly identical to appendicitis.
- Crohn’s Disease – Includes fatigue, diarrhea, weight loss, pain in the stomach, and fever. Imaging tests can rule out appendicitis before a physician decides Crohn’s Disease is the proper diagnosis.
- Gynecological Issues – Some physicians may diagnose an ectopic pregnancy or pelvic inflammatory diseases, because these have similar symptoms to appendicitis.
Not all misdiagnoses are considered malpractice. Instead, the doctor must breach the standard of care of what a careful doctor would do in the same or similar circumstances.. Any patient who arrives to an emergency room or physician’s office with a health issue the physician will do what is called a differential diagnosis. This means that a physician considers all possible conditions, then rules them out based on test results, symptoms, and the patient’s history.
For a doctor to be legally liable for a misdiagnosis, the patient and the attorney must retain a medical expert who testifies how the physician failed to arrive at the right diagnosis (but should have). For example, if the physician never ordered an imaging test or CBC to rule out appendicitis before diagnosing the patient.
Speak with a Malpractice Attorney
If you suspect that your appendicitis was misdiagnosed, and you suffered serious injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Carey, Danis & Lowe Attorneys at Law today for a consultation at 877-678-3400 or request an appointment online.