Beware: Appendicitis May Be Misdiagnosed in the ER

appendicitis symptomsMake no mistake about it, appendicitis is a true medical emergency as the appendix can rupture if treatment doesn’t occur in a timely fashion. Sadly, many people are misdiagnosed, which causes a delay in treatment, resulting in serious injuries or even death.

Although many people are aware that low pain on the right side of the abdomen is a sign of appendicitis, sometimes appendicitis doesn’t start out in the right quadrant of the abdomen. In fact, many people experience pain in the center of their stomachs along with vomiting and diarrhea that cause them to believe they have the flu. However, because the pain can become so bad, many people eventually end up at the emergency room to seek relief and treatment.

Diagnosing Appendicitis

In order to make an accurate diagnosis regarding any type of health condition, emergency room staff should conduct a personal history questionnaire to find out more about the patient. For example, a nurse or doctor would attempt to find out if a young female patient is anorexic, which would be a good indicator that the pain and symptoms she is experiencing are from appendicitis.

Another way emergency rooms diagnose appendicitis is through a physical examination. Doctors may put pressure on the painful area to determine if the pain gets worse with pressure, and they may have patients lie down and draw their knees up to see if the pain is reduced.

Doctors can also diagnose appendicitis through blood tests, urine tests, and imaging tests; however, sometimes doctors fail to conduct these tests and discharge patients with a flu or other misdiagnosis.

Misdiagnosing Appendicitis

The truth of the matter is that appendicitis is often mistaken for other medical conditions, such as:

  • Gynecologic conditions. Some women who have endured ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, or have pelvic inflammatory disease have symptoms similar to appendicitis. Unfortunately, doctors may be too quick to blame the present symptoms on a past conditions and fail to order thorough diagnostic tests.
  • Crohn’s disease. The symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease are similar to appendicitis, which include abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhea, and more. This is why it is crucial that a doctor orders an imaging test to determine if the appendix is inflamed or if the patient is suffering from Crohn’s disease.
  • Cecal diverticulitis. The symptoms associated with this syndrome are almost identical to the symptoms of appendicitis; however, bleeding is usually present in the colon with this medical condition. Sometimes a doctor may misdiagnose cecal diverticulitis for appendicitis or vice versa. This is why it is critical that doctors perform thorough diagnostic tests in order to determine exactly what patients are suffering from.

Because these medical conditions can be confused with appendicitis, it is even more important that doctors ask questions and conduct tests to rule out incorrect health conditions prior to making a diagnosis. However, sometimes a doctor may fail to do this and either discharge a patient too quickly or misdiagnose and treat the patient for another condition. In either case, medical malpractice is likely.

If a doctor failed to diagnose your appendicitis correctly and you believe you have a medical malpractice case, please call us or request a free copy of our book to learn more.