Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Explain Some Important Things You Need To Know About The Failure To Diagnose Small Bowel Obstruction
A doctor’s failure to diagnose may amount to medical malpractice under certain circumstances. One dangerous condition that is sometimes missed is called a small bowel obstruction. Here are some things you need to know if your doctor failed to diagnose your small bowel obstruction.
What Is A Small Bowel Obstruction?
A small bowel obstruction refers to a blockage in the small intestines. When this happens, digested material cannot pass normally through the bowels. There are many conditions that can cause small bowel obstruction, including:
Adhesions, scar tissue that develops after abdominal surgery;
Hernias, a piece of intestine, or other tissue, that protrudes through a weak muscle wall;
Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory disease of the digestive tract;
Volvulus, a twisting of the bowel that cuts off blood supply.
If left untreated, a small bowel obstruction can result in life-threatening complications.
What are the Symptoms of Small Bowel Obstruction?
There are some common symptoms of this condition, including:
- Severe bloating;
- Abdominal pain, cramps, or swelling;
- Loss of appetite;
- Feeling nauseous;
- Unable to pass gas or stool;
- Constipation; and
How Do You Prove a Failure to Diagnose Small Bowel Obstruction?
Your doctor has a duty to recognize obvious symptoms of this condition and to provide you with care to manage it. If a doctor suspects that there is evidence of small bowel obstruction after conducting a physical examination, there are several diagnostic tests that can help make the diagnosis, including:
- Abdominal x-rays;
- A CT scan;
- Ultrasound; and
- Air or barium enema.
There are also certain risk factors that increase a patient’s risk for this condition, including:
- A twisted colon;
- Impacted feces;
- A history of abdominal or pelvic surgery;
- Crohn’s disease; and
- Abdominal cancer.
When small bowel obstruction is diagnosed, doctors are required to treat it immediately, although the treatment may vary. The doctor is required to first access the type of obstruction, or blockage involved. An obstruction can be partial; complete or involve a tear in the bowel. The treatment depends on the type of obstruction.
Partial obstructions can often be treated with intravenous fluid therapy, electrolyte replacement, and at times the use of a nasogastric tube to decompress the belly. When the blockage is complete, however, the blood supply to the intestines can be completely cut off, in a form of strangulation. This can result in gangrene and death of the trapped intestines. This condition, called bowel necrosis, is a life threatening emergency that requires surgery. Additionally, evidence of a tear in the bowel is also a medical emergency because of the risk of peritonitis, a potentially deadly infection.
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If your doctor failed to diagnose your small bowel obstruction, contact our experienced medical malpractice attorneys by email or calling (800) 762-9300 for a free consultation. You can also simply fill out a case intake form, and one of our attorneys will get right back to you.
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