Case study: delay in diagnosis of appendicitis causes complications
Rebecca, 11, developed appendicitis, which hospital doctors misdiagnosed leading to a prolonged illness due to complications she suffered as a result. Her case was dealt with by Nick Young, one of Hospital Negligence’s specialist solicitors who negotiated a compensation settlement of £4,500 for Rebecca.
Referred to the hospital by GP
Rebecca was referred to hospital by her GP as she was suffering from abdominal pain which was getting worse. She also had a high temperature, a fast pulse and a tender abdomen and her GP suspected she had acute appendicitis.
Seen by nurse and surgeon, but appendicitis was not diagnosed
Rebecca was seen by a triage nurse in the hospital’s paediatric assessment unit and later reviewed by a doctor. It was noted that her abdominal pain was 10 out of 10.
Later that evening Rebecca was reviewed by a surgeon who diagnosed either bowel colic or a urinary tract infection. He said that he believed a diagnosis of appendicitis was very unlikely but agreed to keep her in overnight to be observed.
The next day Rebecca was reviewed by the paediatric team and she was tested for a urinary tract infection and also prescribed antibiotics. Later that day an ultrasound scan of her abdomen was carried out which the radiologist believed showed signs that she was suffering from acute appendicitis
Burst appendix before procedure
However she was not reviewed by a consultant surgeon until two days later, who assessed her in the morning and found that she had had a temperature overnight, was in increasing pain and looked unwell. That afternoon Rebecca had her appendix removed although it became apparent that the organ had perforated sometime before the procedure was carried out.
Secondary infection and re-opened wound
Rebecca was kept in hospital for the next five days before being discharged with a course of antibiotics. However a few days later Rebecca’s abdomen became swollen and she began to suffer significant pain on a scale of 10 out of 10. Her GP diagnosed a secondary infection and she was taken to hospital by ambulance.
The next day Rebecca’s scar from the surgery to remove her appendix re-opened under the pressure of swelling from the abdominal infection. A decision was made to keep the wound open while the infection was treated and after she was discharged two days later she received daily visits from district nurses who checked and dressed the wound. She has since been left with a four-inch scar.
If Rebecca’s appendicitis had been treated when it ought to have been when she was referred to hospital by her GP she would not have suffered the secondary infection and all the pain and suffering that came with it. Her case was successfully settled for £4,500 by Nick Young, one of Hospital Negligence’s specialist solicitors.
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