Misdiagnosis of appendicitis is one of the five most common causes of medical malpractice lawsuits against emergency room physicians. Between five and ten percent of emergency room patients complain of abdominal pain. But only a small portion of those patients have appendicitis. Timely diagnosis of appendicitis is critical because a delay can cause the appendix to burst, resulting in infection and surgical complications.
Diagnosis of appendicitis can be difficult. Studies tend to show that appendicitis is properly diagnosed in 75 – 90% of cases. Diagnosis tends to be easiest in male patients between 18 and 50 years of age. Possible pregnancy-related complications among female patients and a possibly displaced appendix among children, elderly, or obese patients tend to complicate diagnosis for those populations.
This article discusses the diagnostic procedure that doctors will use to determine whether a patient has appendicitis, identify some maladies with symptoms similar to appendicitis, and briefly describe what a lawsuit for misdiagnosis of appendicitis might look like.
Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix, which is a 3