Appendicitis misdiagnosis claims

Introduction

According to the NHS, 40,000 people are admitted to hospital in England with appendicitis each year. In treating the condition, prompt removal of the appendix is usually recommended because any delay can lead to complications.

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Many of the symptoms of appendicitis are typical of a number of abdominal disorders. A doctor may therefore miss or misdiagnose the condition.

Failing to correctly diagnose appendicitis in the first instance does not necessarily mean your GP was negligent - your symptoms and medical history may have made another diagnosis more reasonable.

However, in cases where another medical practitioner would have made a correct diagnosis of appendicitis but your doctor did not, it may be possible to make a claim for clinical negligence.

Doctor discharging patient

Do I have an appendicitis misdiagnosis claim?

If you have been injured in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

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Why is appendicitis misdiagnosed?

In order to make a correct diagnosis, a doctor must identify the symptoms presented as appendicitis. This is not always easy. Appendicitis can be confused with a range of other disorders such as gastroenteritis, severe irritable syndrome (IBS), constipation, bladder and urine infections, Crohns disease and, for women, menstrual pain.

What are the recognised symptoms of appendicitis?

A painful swelling of the appendix caused by a blockage at the entrance, appendicitis typically begins with intermittent pain in the middle abdomen. As it progresses the pain usually travels to the lower right hand side - the site of the appendix - becoming constant and severe.

In addition, the pain may become worse when pressed or when running or coughing.

Other common symptoms of appendicitis include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever

If a person presents with abdominal pain combined with any of the other symptoms, a doctor should carry out a proper assessment. As well as taking a history of any symptoms, they should also examine the abdomen to look for any rigidity or tenderness. For further confirmation, blood, urine and imaging tests can also be carried out.

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What are the repercussions of a misdiagnosis?

If a doctor misses appendicitis, the repercussions for the individual affected can be serious.

Not only can it lead to prolonged pain and suffering but, if not removed, the appendix can burst. This can lead to dangerous infections such as peritonitis or an abscess which may need to drained.

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Pursuing a claim for medical negligence

In order to be compensated for their pain and suffering, both financially and psychologically, an individual with an appendicitis misdiagnosis can pursue a claim for compensation.

What are the duties of a doctor?

All doctors have a legal duty to make the care of their patient their first concern. Set out by the General Medical Council, this ensures they provide a good standard of practice and care and keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Included in this is a duty to give a correct diagnosis, as is reasonable, given all the information and symptoms at hand.

Identifying medical negligence

In cases where a doctor fails to recognise appendicitis as a possible cause of the symptoms - for example by not asking the right questions or carrying out sufficient testing to rule out other possible illnesses - their actions may be deemed negligent. The distinction between a reasonable mistake and negligence can be nuanced, and will depend on the facts of the case.

How can negligence be proven?

Pursuing a misdiagnosis claim may not be as straightforward as some other areas of personal injury. Cases of this kind are often fiercely defended by legal and medical experts. A solicitor will arrange an independent medical report and can advise a Claimant on the types of evidence needed to prove a missed appendicitis diagnosis in order to give the best chance of a successful outcome.

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How much compensation can I claim for an appendicitis misdiagnosis?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our medical negligence compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.

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Meet our team

The national network of Quittance solicitors take on all types of clinical negligence claims, from fast track claims to life-changing injury. Selected for their track record in recovering compensation, Quittance's panel solicitors have years of dedicated experience handling injury claims.

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Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
 
Carol Cook Clinical Negligence Panel Solicitor
 
Lee Raynor Clinical Negligence Panel Solicitor
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

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