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Failure to Diagnose Bowel Obstruction

The South Carolina medical malpractice lawyers at Lofton & Lofton are industry leaders in personal injury law. For over 25 years, we have helped victims of negligence recover compensation for their injuries. Our long track record includes successfully handling malpractice cases involving failure to diagnose bowel obstructions and perforations.

Failure to Diagnose Bowel Obstruction

The digestive tract performs many complex functions, breaking down nutrients and evacuating waste. Any disturbance of this system can cause inflammatory bowel disease. Historically, intestinal blockage was not well-documented, and the results are clear today. At present, doctors still do not know what causes obstructions and often fail to treat it. Diseases involving bowel obstruction include:

  • Diverticulitis
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Typhoid fever
  • Bowel ischemia
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Partial bowel obstruction
  • Ascariasis (infection disease)

Proper diagnosis of bowel obstructions can be based on a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Hernias
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Flatulence
  • Adhesions
  • Constipation
  • Impacted stool
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss, fatigue
  • Cramping, tenderness

When the bowels are blocked, waste cannot pass through the obstruction. Left untreated, the obstruction can deprive the bowels of oxygen, causing parts of the intestine to die. In Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases, the body attacks parts of the gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammation. Undiagnosed obstruction may also lead to perforation.

Diagnosis of Bowel Perforation

Perforation may result from blunt trauma or injury caused by accidents, wounds, or sutures. Untreated obstructions and inflammation over-stretch the intestinal walls, causing parts to break. These ruptures are dangerous because they allow human waste from the digestive tract to enter the blood, causing infection or sepsis. The body must then attack the infection, leading to further inflammation and obstructed blood flow. Once this happens, sepsis can lead to loss of entire limbs or send the body into shock. Proper diagnosis of obstruction and perforation is therefore critical to preventing permanent damage. Unfortunately, the same symptoms of injury are common to other diseases and are frequently missed.

Perforations Caused by Malpractice

Because inflammatory bowel disease is still relatively rare, it is often overlooked in tests. Lab workups may show a prevalence of white blood cells, but that is present in any infection. Late diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease and other illnesses are therefore common and sometimes discovered too late. Medical malpractice contributing to blockage and perforation often involves:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Open wounds
  • Emergency care
  • Botched surgery
  • Untreated infection
  • Post-surgical sutures
  • Mishandling equipment
  • Confusing patient results
  • Insertion of nasogastric tube
  • Failure to change feeding tube
  • Administration of pain medication

X-rays, CT scans, and blood tests are essential to diagnosis. Proper treatment requires correctly determining the location of the obstruction and surgically removing parts of the intestine. Sometimes, a course of antibiotics is sufficient. In all cases, doctors must clear the obstruction or repair the perforation, preventing further damage.

Liability for Bowel Damage

Lofton & Lofton can help you pursue all the parties responsible for diagnosis and treatment in a medical malpractice case. Our South Carolina personal injury attorneys have extensive experience identifying cases of negligence. Doctors and health care providers that violate their legal duty to patients are liable for the injury, including compensation for further medical treatment required to treat the damage, pain and suffering, and other amounts. At Lofton & Lofton, we know that the additional health problems, lost work, and trauma associated with medical malpractice can be just as difficult to bear as the underlying health issue itself. That is why we are committed to helping you fight for the award necessary to provide for your future. Call (873) 722-6319 today for a consultation or contact us online.