Medical Malpractice: Appendicitis Misdiagnosis


In a majority of cases, timely and accurate diagnosis of appendicitis is possible because of medical technology.  However, appendicitis can be misdiagnosed, with doctors mistakenly giving diagnosis for indigestion or the flu instead, which are much less serious conditions.  A delay in proper diagnosis can result in serious complications that require extensive medical treatment or possibly wrongful.

Research has shown that half of all appendicitis cases are misdiagnosed when they first go to the emergency room or their doctor’s office.  Of the cases involving children less than four years old, 80 percent of appendicitis cases resulted in rupture.  It has been recommended by doctors that children who experience prolonged or severe abdominal symptoms that do not go away or improve be evaluated for a ruptured appendix.

When doctors are evaluating patients they should consider:

  • Whether tests indicate an elevated white cell count,
  • Whether the child has diarrhea.  (Diarrhea may distract the doctor and put them on the track for an incorrect diagnosis when there is a possibility the patient has a ruptured appendix.),
  • Whether the child was vomiting and has since stopped, and
  • Whether there was an intense pain in the lower right abdominal region, which later subsided becoming dull and spreading throughout the abdominal region.  (Paradoxically, this is a bad sign.)

A dangerous situation can be created after an appendix bursts because the pain often subsides.  The patient could start to believe that there is no longer a problem.  However, the problem has become even more dangerous because the body’s system has become exposed to dangerous infected materials.  If the patient does not receive proper treatment at this point, peritonitis, sepsis, and death can result.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a misdiagnosis of appendicitis, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help protect your interests.

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