Failure To Diagnose Bowel Obstruction Or Perforation


The pathway that runs from the mouth to the anus is called the digestive tract.  Food is processed through this pathway.  The bowel is the end of the digestive tract.  This is where the digestive system’s waste products are stored until they leave the body.  However, the bowel can become obstructed or blocked due to trauma, diet, surgery, or a digestive disease.  When this occurs, food stops traveling through the digestive tract, possibly leading to a bowel perforation.  Failure to diagnose or treat a bowel obstruction or perforation may lead to sepsis and without any corrective surgery and intravenous antibiotics, the result could be death.

Signs and symptoms of bowel obstruction include:

  • Abdominal pain;
  • Bloating of the abdomen;
  • Constipation;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Inability to pass gas; and
  • Vomiting

When a doctor is faced with a patient who is presenting these symptoms, they must take immediate action.  Surgery is usually necessary.  The failure to treat a bowel obstruction can lead to a perforation of the bowel.  This can lead to sepsis and death.

Signs and symptoms of a bowel perforation include:

  • Intense abdominal pain (that worsens with movement);
  • Intense vomiting;
  • High fever; and
  • Nausea

If the obstruction that caused the perforation is not managed correctly through the use of an NG tube, colonoscopy, or surgical intervention, and the bowel perforates, toxins will be released into the bloodstream, resulting in sepsis.  If the sepsis is not diagnosed and treated quickly, the infection can progress to the point where antibiotics will no longer be useful in treating it.

Bowel perforation can also result from:

  • Adhesion / surgical scar tissue
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Digestive disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Hysterectomy errors
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Open or laparoscopic intestinal surgery

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a bowel perforation, resulting from an undiagnosed bowel obstruction, you may be entitled to compensation for the resulting lifelong health care, medical expenses, medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering.  Contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to evaluate your case.

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