Delay in Diagnosing Perforated Bowel Leads to Complications

Failure to Diagnose Results in Seven Figure Settlement


Our client underwent a procedure to remove a number of abdominal bowel adhesions (bands of tissue that form between abdominal tissues and organs). The following day, she began to experience severe abdominal pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The surgeon who performed her initial surgery instructed her to report to the emergency department.

At the emergency room, our client was noted to have a pain level at 10/10, she was tachycardic (suffering from increased heart rate), and her white blood cell count was elevated. The emergency room doctor called the initial surgeon and discussed with him the possibility that our client was suffering from a bowel perforation – a hole in the gastrointestinal tract. Rather than going to the emergency department to examine our client, the surgeon simply instructed the emergency room doctor to perform an abdominal CT scan and call with the results.

The CT scan revealed a moderate amount of fluid and free air in the abdomen–both possible symptoms of a perforated bowel – and the interpreting radiologist could not determine if this was due to a post-surgical collection, blood, or an inflammatory process. Appallingly, the initial surgeon neither went to the emergency department nor admitted our client to his services, and instead instructed the emergency department doctor to discharge our client with pain medication.

Two days later, our client returned to the emergency department and was diagnosed with sepsis and a perforated bowel. Our client suffered many painful complications and additional surgeries as a result of the delay in recognizing her perforated bowel. In addition, she was forced to suffer through ongoing hospital admittance and miss five months of work. Rosen & Perry settled this case for seven figures.