While an appendectomy is a routine procedure that is frequently performed, complications can quickly result if a surgical error occurs during the procedure or if the patient’s symptoms of appendicitis are not addressed in a timely manner. Although the appendix is a relatively small organ and does not appear to aid in a particular body function, it can cause harm when it becomes infected.
Appendicitis is amongst one of the most commonly misdiagnosed problems that occur in emergency rooms. This is especially true for toddlers, infants and young adults that display symptoms of appendicitis. Since the symptoms associated with appendicitis are not easy to identify and can coincide with numerous other conditions, it is difficult for physicians to diagnose appendicitis. In many cases, other potential conditions are considered before a physician may decide to perform an appendectomy.
How is Appendicitis Treated?
While antibiotics are typically administered in cases of appendicitis, the appendix must be removed in nearly all cases of appendicitis. An appendectomy can be performed through a modern procedure involving a laparoscope, while older methods involve a laparotomy, which involves the removal of an appendix through a single incision.
Risks of Malpractice during an Appendectomy
There are risks associated with most types of surgical procedures. Risks involved during an appendectomy include infections after surgery, adverse reactions to anesthesia, excessive bleeding during and after surgery, and internal organ perforation. Perhaps the greatest risk connected to an appendectomy or appendicitis is the likelihood of misdiagnosis. When treatment for appendicitis is delayed, the patient’s condition can rapidly deteriorate, causing an abscess or organ perforation. When appendicitis is misdiagnosed, it is possible for the appendix to rupture, which can cause a severe infection.
Proving Negligence or Malpractice
Individuals must prove that they received a level of care that was below the typical standard of care when pursuing a medical negligence or malpractice case. This applies to all cases, including those related to a failure to diagnose appendicitis, a failed appendectomy, and mistakes made during the surgical removal of the appendix. In addition to medical testimony from a third party who is an expert in the field, proving medical malpractice or negligence also requires the counsel and assistance of an experienced attorney.