The Law Offices of John Phebus

Delayed diagnosis results in two extra surgeries

She was 36 years old and wanted to have a baby. She and her OBGYN decided she would undergo a minimally invasive surgical procedure to enhance her odds of having a successful pregnancy.

However, during the pregnancy, her small bowel was perforated. That error is not considered medical malpractice by her attorney, however. It was the delayed diagnosis error that followed that resulted not only pain and additional surgeries for the woman far from us in Phoenix, but also in a medical malpractice claim against her physician.

The Georgia woman and her attorney filed a claim against the surgeon in Richmond County, where a jury heard their arguments in court. The jury recently returned its verdict in the case, determining that the woman should receive $474,477 in damages for her medical expenses. She is also to receive $1.1 million for her pain and suffering, according to a newspaper article.

As we noted, it wasn't the perforated bowel that triggered the legal claim, but rather the doctor's failure to recognize that the patient's bowel had been perforated during surgery. The day after surgery, she went to an emergency room with a high fever, lower abdominal pain and a racing pulse, her attorney said -- classic symptoms of a perforated bowel.

Her white count soared over the next two days and she had an extended abdomen. Her surgeon still failed to recognize the problem or even order a CT scan (typically revealing perforated bowels). Another day passed and the woman was back in ER, this time vomiting. She was admitted to the hospital by her doctor, who still failed to order a CT scan for two more days.

By the end of the ordeal, she had had two additional surgeries, her attorney said.

Mistakes happen to everyone. In this case, it wasn't the perforation that triggered the lawsuit, but the failure to diagnose and treat the perforation despite the obvious signs.

For people who suffer through misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, the consequences can be severe and long-lasting. An experienced attorney will discuss your legal options with you so that you can pursue justice.

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