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Failure to Treat Appendicitis: Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Failure to treat

Left untreated, appendicitis is a life-threatening health condition. If a patient goes into the Emergency Room (ER) complaining of intense abdominal pain but the doctor fails to diagnose appendicitis and sends the patient home, there is a risk that the patient could go into shock and die. If the doctor’s failure to treat appendicitis caused a patient’s death, the family may be able to recover damages through a medical malpractice lawsuit. In fact, misdiagnosis of appendicitis is one of the top 5 most common medical malpractice lawsuits brought against ER doctors.

Why does failure to treat appendicitis happen?

In order to treat a condition, it must first be appropriately diagnosed. The reality is that diagnosing appendicitis can be a challenge; for one thing five to 10 percent of ER patients come in complaining of abdominal pain but only a small percentage of them have appendicitis.

Other conditions that carry overlapping symptoms with appendicitis:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Cecal diverticulitis
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

A skilled doctor will use differential diagnosis to rule out conditions that seem like a possibility but don’t match all the patient’s symptoms.

Common signs and symptoms of appendicitis

  • Pain and/or tenderness in the right lower area of the stomach
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Flatulence
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Overall feeling of malaise
  • Fever
  • Leukocytosis (elevated white blood cell count)

A doctor is expected to review a patient’s medical history – for example, anorexia is a known risk factor for appendicitis – and current symptoms to come up with the most likely diagnoses. After top possibilities are identified, the physician generally orders tests that will provide results that allow the doctor to reach a definitive diagnosis. If appendicitis is suspected, a Complete Blood Count (CBC) is often ordered to check for leukocytosis. If the patient does not have leukocytosis, radiographic imaging, such as a CT scan or ultrasonography is used in a small percentage of cases to assist in diagnosis.

If only one or two of the symptoms are present, a patient may be sent home with instructions to return if symptoms don’t improve. The problem here is that if the patient does have appendicitis the window to treat it before the appendix bursts may close while the patient is at home.

Medical malpractice lawsuit for failure to treat appendicitis

Medical malpractice lawsuits are brought to seek recovery for damages such as pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, etc. and to hold the healthcare provider responsible for negligent care. If you or a loved one was injured because of a failure to treat appendicitis, speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can discuss your legal rights. Know that all medical malpractice cases have a statute of limitations which means that injury cases must be brought before a certain deadline. In Washington State the deadly is usually three years from the date of the injury but there are a few exceptions.

The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice and other types of negligence. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable accidents and medical errors including birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections, diagnostic errors, prescription drug injuries and wrongful death in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a Statute of Limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate, experienced attorneys.