Missing a diagnosis of appendicitis can be a fatal mistake, as happened a few years ago to a six-year- old English boy named Jesse Jones. A series of doctors and nurses continually misdiagnosed his illness as a “stomach bug” or dehydration. Though surgeons scrambled at the end to treat him, they were too late, and Jesse died.
Appendectomy, the removal of the appendix, is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S. The appendix is a small pouch attached to the lower end of the large intestine. Appendicitis is a condition in which an infection in the appendix causes it to swell. Left untreated, it may rupture, spilling feces and infection into the stomach cavity, and ultimately lead to the death of the patient. As a result, patients with appendicitis often have their appendices removed. A person can live a full, healthy life after the appendix has been taken out.
A doctor can miss a diagnosis of appendicitis in a number of ways. Some are misdiagnosed as run-of-the-mill stomach illnesses, which are far more common and share many similar symptoms. Others are a result of misreading diagnostic tests such as CT scans. Appendicitis is often missed in patients under the age of five because it is exceedingly rare in such a small child. In many cases involving young children, doctors do not even consider appendicitis as a possibility.
Failure to diagnose appendicitis may amount to malpractice. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you determine whether this failure constitutes medical malpractice and advise you on how to proceed to obtain justice.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.