Failure To Diagnose Appendicitis
Peter started to suffer severe abdominal pain and was rushed to Accident and Emergency. He was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and discharged, but he became increasingly unwell.
In the evening of 28 October 2009, Peter began to experience pain in his stomach. This got progressively worse until he collapsed, prompting his wife to call an ambulance. The paramedic told Peter he suspected either a ruptured appendix or a urinary tract infection, and he was taken to A&E for further tests.
At hospital, Peter was examined by a doctor who performed a blood test, took his temperature, checked his stomach and anus, but failed to carry out a CT scan. Peter was then diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. He was given morphine for the pain, prescribed painkillers and antibiotics before being discharged home.
The following day Peter remained in bed and despite the painkillers, the pain in his stomach continued to get worse. He began to lose fluids, sweating and leaking discharge from his anus. Feeling very frightened, Peter rang NHS Direct, who advised he was having a bad reaction to the medication which he should cease taking immediately.
However, his symptoms persisted over the next couple of days, and on Monday 2 November Peter determined to visit his GP. She was very concerned about his state of health, and told Peterís wife to drive him straight to A&E, giving them a written note to hand to hospital staff. Upon reading the GPís note, the attending doctor at the hospital had Peter admitted, and promptly organised a CT scan.
When the results of the scan came back, Peter was informed that his appendix had ruptured, causing infection to spread across his abdomen (called Ďperitonitisí). He underwent emergency surgery, in which his rib cage was clamped open, allowing the surgeon to clean the poison from his body.
After the operation, Peter was told he was lucky to be alive. He remained in the intensive care unit for several days, taking morphine for the pain and using a catheter to empty is bowels. He was discharged after a week, but did not fully recover until about a month later. During this time he remained in a large amount of pain, and had very poor mobility. Peterís wife had to care for him, rearranging her work schedule to do so.
This was all very distressing for the family, particularly Peterís daughter, who was very upset by the whole experience. Peter felt aggrieved that this could have been prevented had he been correctly diagnosed when he first attended hospital. This would have lead to his appendix being removed via keyhole surgery, significantly reducing both his scarring and his recovery time. Instead he had to undergo a major operation, take a month off his work as a chartered surveyor, and has suffered emotional trauma from knowing he nearly lost his life.
We helped Peter make a medical negligence claim against the hospital, whose failure to diagnosis acute appendicitis amounted to sub-standard medical care. The claim was settled, and Peter received £7,500 compensation.
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