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The failure to diagnose an imperforate anus is serious

The birth of a baby is always a much-anticipated and exciting event for families. Most babies are born healthy but occasionally a baby can suffer from a medical condition. Doctors who check these newborns in the hospital are trained to diagnose babies with many conditions, including an imperforate anus. But when a doctor fails to diagnose a condition it can lead to the baby having a serious injury.

Around 5,000 babies in the United States are born each year with an imperforate anus. This is where the baby's anus and rectum do not develop properly. With an imperforate anus the anal opening may be narrow or not in the right position, a covering may be present over the anus, the rectum may not connect to the anus or the rectum may connect to something other than the anus.

Babies who have an imperforate anus can suffer from several conditions. These can include having a hard time passing a bowel movement leading to constipation, unable to pass a bowel movement because of a membrane covering the anus, the stool being trapped inside the baby because the rectum is not connected to the anus or a urinary tract infection because the rectum is connected to the fistula instead of the anus.

Doctors diagnose this condition when they examine the baby after birth. If a doctor suspects the baby has an imperforate anus they will order x-rays of the stomach, an abdominal ultrasound and an echocardiogram or MRI if necessary. Some babies will need to have surgery to move the anus to a more appropriate place and the baby may also need a colostomy for several weeks.

When a doctor fails to diagnose a baby's imperforate anus it can lead to pain, emotional distress, a worsened condition and unexpected medical expenses. A legal professional skilled in medical malpractice can help a family who believes that their baby suffered because of an undiagnosed medical condition.

Source: cincinnatichildrens.org, "Imperforate anus," accessed on March 14, 2016

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