Failure to Diagnose Appendicitis – A Common Form of Medical Malpractice
Written By: James C. Lewis, Esq.
Shapiro, Lewis, & Appleton
Virginia Beach, Virginia
One of the most frustrating and demoralizing events a person can go through is being diagnosed with a serious medical condition and learning that a doctor failed to diagnose the condition at an earlier time, despite clear evidence of the condition. Unfortunately, this form of medical malpractice happens quite often.
For example, failing to timely diagnose appendicitis is the third most common medical mistake following only the misdiagnosis of heart attacks and breast cancer. In fact,studies reveal that 30 percent of patients diagnosed with acute appendicitis were seen previously by a doctor and misdiagnosed.
What’s so troubling about these statistics is that appendicitis is deadly when left untreated. In fact, any delay may lead to the appendix rupturing which would cause the contents of your intestine to spill into your abdomen. This can lead to the formation of a life-threatening condition known as peritonitis.
Failure to diagnose appendicitis is malpractice because when a doctor is presented with a patient exhibiting symptoms of appendicitis, the standard of care is to operate on the patient. Again, this is necessary because any delay can lead to serious injuries or loss of life. The standard method for diagnosis is called differential diagnosis. Using differential diagnosis, a doctor is trained to figure out what your possible health problems are and rank them in terms of the severity of risk to your health. The bigger the risk, like you dying or losing a limb, the more attention that needs to be paid by the doctor to either (a) exclude that condition as not being the cause of the problem or (b) to make treatment to prevent the harm a priority.
If you or a loved one were treated for appendicitis and suspect that a doctor failed to diagnose your condition, consider consulting with a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your legal options. Our firm has written extensively on misdiagnosis malpractice issues. To learn more about misdiagnosis injuries and what legal avenues you may be able to take, check out this article which was written by an experienced medical malpractice attorney.