Failure to Diagnose Appendicitis Prompts $900,000 Verdict

April 18, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​An Illinois jury has returned a verdict of almost $900,000 against a primary care physician who allegedly failed to recognize appendicitis in a patient who ultimately underwent an emergency appendectomy and experienced severe complications, according to a report (login required) from the April 2014 Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements, and Experts. The patient was 69 years old when he visited his primary care physician with complaints of lower abdominal pain. Although the physician performed a physical examination, he did not find abdominal tenderness, distention, or unusual bowel sounds. He ordered blood work and prescribed painkillers for the patient. The physician diagnosed gastroenteritis and instructed the patient to follow up in 24 hours and visit an emergency department (ED) if he experienced worsening symptoms. The next day, the patient sought emergency care at the ED because of severe abdominal pain, where he underwent stat blood testing and a stat computed tomography (CT) scan. The blood work showed an infection, and the CT scan found free air in the patient's abdomen, indicating acute appendicitis with perforation. A surgeon performed an emergency open appendectomy, but the inflammation made it difficult to remove the appendix and the surgeon noted significant necrosis of the organ.

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