| Read Time: 4 minutes | Medical Malpractice
appendicitis misdiagnosis lawsuit

Untreated appendicitis can inflict deadly consequences. When a patient seeks medical treatment displaying signs of appendicitis, the last thing they expect is a misdiagnosis.

When a doctor is negligent in making a misdiagnosis, the patient may recover their losses through a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you or a loved one received an appendicitis misdiagnosis, you may be eligible to file a claim.

A member of our team can review the circumstances of your case to determine whether you qualify to file a medical malpractice claim. Contact a lawyer at our office today to schedule an appointment.

What Is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis occurs when a person’s appendix is inflamed, often causing pain and irritation. It is typically caused by a blockage in the lining of the appendix.

The appendix is a small organ on the lower right side of the abdomen that sticks out from the colon. Common symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Sudden pain starting around the belly button and shifting to the lower right abdomen; 
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Constipation;
  • Abdominal bloating;
  • Sharp pain in the lower right abdomen; and
  •  Abdominal pain that worsens when coughing, sneezing, or making sudden movements.

The site of a person’s appendix can shift as they grow into adulthood or when they are pregnant. 

Is Appendicitis Dangerous?

Appendicitis is a medical condition that requires immediate treatment. An inflamed, swollen appendix is painful and at risk of bursting. When an appendix breaks open, referred to as a burst appendix, the infection inside spreads throughout the patient’s abdomen.

A burst appendix is a life-threatening condition if untreated. An appendix can rupture as soon as 48 hours after symptoms of appendicitis develop.

The best way to avoid a burst appendix is to remove the organ once a physician sees signs of appendicitis.

How Often Is Appendicitis Misdiagnosed?

The symptoms of appendicitis are detailed above. However, abdominal pain is a symptom of several different medical issues.

A physician must conduct several tests to identify whether the patient is suffering from appendicitis or another ailment. Common misdiagnoses for appendicitis include:

  • Pancreatitis,
  • Crohn’s disease,
  • Menstrual cramps,
  • Endometriosis,
  • Intestinal obstructions, and
  • Gastroenteritis.

Research indicates that doctors misdiagnose appendicitis in 6.0% of adults and 4.4% of children during the initial emergency department visit.

Misdiagnosis is more likely to be in women, patients with pre-existing conditions, or patients experiencing abdominal pain with constipation. 

Potential Consequences of an Appendicitis Misdiagnosis

An appendicitis misdiagnosis will likely delay any treatment for the patient’s infected appendix. In some cases, an inflamed appendix can burst within 48 to 72 hours of when symptoms develop.

When an appendix bursts, the pus and other bacteria leak into the abdominal cavity, causing an astronomical risk of infection. Without prompt medical attention, a ruptured appendix can result in life-threatening complications.

Is an Appendicitis Misdiagnosis Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

In some cases, an appendicitis misdiagnosis is a form of medical malpractice. However, the plaintiff must prove that the medical provider was negligent in failing to diagnose the patient with appendicitis. 

To prove negligence, the plaintiff must show:

  • The plaintiff was in a doctor-patient relationship with the defendant that imposed a duty of care to act as a similarly trained professional would under the same or similar circumstances;
  • The defendant breached their duty of care by failing to act as a similarly trained professional would under the same or similar circumstances;
  • The plaintiff suffered injuries due to the misdiagnosis; and
  • The misdiagnosis caused the plaintiff losses.

It is not enough to show that a doctor ran all the necessary tests and incorrectly diagnosed a condition after a thorough investigation. Instead, the plaintiff must show that they were negligent in your treatment, ultimately resulting in the misdiagnosis.

That means proving that a medical professional with similar training and experience would have properly diagnosed the appendicitis and reacted appropriately. Actions that can demonstrate a negligent misdiagnosis include:

  • Neglecting to run CT scans,
  • Reacting too slowly once appendicitis is suspected,
  • Missing obvious symptoms of appendicitis,
  • Misreading lab results,
  • Failing to review a patient’s medical history, and
  • Failing to diagnose appendicitis promptly. 

An appendicitis misdiagnosis can increase the amount of time a patient suffers pain and discomfort from their inflamed appendix and put them at risk of death without additional treatment. 

Did You or a Loved One Receive a Misdiagnosis for Appendicitis? Contact a Lawyer at Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico to Discuss Your Case

In some cases, an appendicitis misdiagnosis is a fatal mistake. If you or a loved one received a misdiagnosis that caused wrongful death, a member of our team can help you recover your losses.

A medical malpractice lawyer gives you the best opportunity to secure the maximum settlement possible.

A medical malpractice attorney can assist your case by:

  • Compiling invoices and financial documents to calculate the financial cost of the misdiagnosis,
  • Demonstrating the responsible party’s negligence caused the misdiagnosis, and
  • Preparing your case to go to trial.

We have extensive courtroom experience and will not shy away from taking the responsible party to trial. Our team is committed to helping our clients recover from their misdiagnosis and secure the best possible outcome.

Contact a misdiagnosis attorney at Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico to talk to a member of our team.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our team answered some frequently asked questions about an appendicitis misdiagnosis below. If you have additional questions, do not hesitate to reach out to our office.

Is It Safe to Get My Appendix Removed?

An appendectomy, or surgery to remove an appendix, is much safer than leaving appendicitis untreated. The appendix does not perform any essential bodily functions that are not managed by other organs, so removal is not a health risk. 

What Kind of Tests Reveal Appendicitis?

Doctors often conduct physical tests to diagnose appendicitis by applying pressure on the abdomen and evaluating a patient’s response. They may also draw blood to check for a high white blood cell count, indicating a possible infection. Doctors can use an abdominal X-ray or ultrasound to help confirm the diagnosis.

A urine test can eliminate other potential causes for a patient’s symptoms, like a urinary tract infection or kidney stone.

Author Photo

Phil Federico is a partner at Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico where he helps lead the Mass Tort / Class Action and Environmental Law practices, transitioning into these areas after beginning his career as a medical malpractice litigator.

Phil has led and been involved in historic and groundbreaking litigation with verdicts and settlements exceeding one billion dollars.

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