Discharged with undiagnosed tumor blocking my entire small intestine...

by Anonymous
(USA)

Last year I went to the emergency room with a stabbing pain in my upper abdomen. The pain was so awful that I was hysterical and couldn't walk or stand...just laid in the fetal position. After triage, they administered pain medication before sending me for an x-ray and a CAT scan. While I was waiting for the results, I fell asleep from the pain meds and woke up with no pain since the meds had taken effect.

The ER doc came back 5 hours later, incredibly unprofessional (reaching into a bag of pretzels my friend brought me and saying "I'm starved! do you mind if I grab a few pretzels?"), and told me they found nothing except for what looks like a polyp or two. She explained that the polyps probably caused the pain but it wasn't anything to worry about and that I could go home. With all the pain medication in my system, I felt no pain and so I believed what the ER doc said and was happy to go home.

Not even 5 hours after I left the hospital, the pain came back 100x worse than earlier that morning. I once again had a friend rush me to the hospital. After triage (AGAIN) I was brought back and had an ultrasound done and another CAT scan.

The next morning a GI doc came and talked to me about how they found a tumor in my small intestine and, as soon as they had an available bed, would be transporting me upstairs until he could perform the surgery 2 days later. Two days later came and a completely different doctor was going to do my surgery. I spent 5 days recovering and they discharged me.

The fact that the first ER doctor acted so unprofessional on top of downplaying the pain I was feeling AND misdiagnosing me AND discharging me seemed a little ridiculous to me. Is this considered malpractice?

It's now been over a year since my surgery and I've started to feel an intense pain radiating from deep inside my belly button. When I lifted my shirt, I found blood and pus leaking out of my belly button where they attempted to do the surgery (but had to cut under my belly button as well to pull out the tumor). I had to go to multiple doctors, get culture tests, and go through yet another CAT scan.

The surgeon (a different one from the doctor that performed my initial surgery) confirmed that an abscess had formed due to an infection from the sutures they used to fuse my small intestine back together after they cut out the part containing the tumor. At the end of this week, I will be undergoing yet another surgery to correct and clean out the infection.

Is this normal? I understand infections are common, but a year and 3 months after my initial surgery? AND I have to get another surgery to correct it? Is the hospital responsible at all for sending me home misdiagnosed? Is the doctor at all responsible for this infection or for me having to get another surgery? Thank you for any perspective you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Discharged with undiagnosed tumor blocking my entire small intestine...":

Anonymous (USA):

The unprofessional behavior of the first doctor is not grounds for a legitimate medical malpractice case. Additionally, the effect of the apparent misdiagnosis resulted in no more than a day or so before the problem was diagnosed and treated. While technically you might have a medical malpractice case for the pain and suffering you unnecssarily endured as a result of the misdiagnosis, because the pain lasted only a day or so until it was treated, it leaves little room for damages.

Additionally, to purse any medical malpractice claim requires an attorney. A patient can't represent herself in a case like this. If you were somehow able to actually create a petition and file a lawsuit you will automatically be up against the doctor's insurance company attorneys. They won't settle the case with you. Doing so would be an admission of liability.

As a result, they'll in all likelihood deny any claim you might file. They know you can't file a lawsuit on your own, so basically they'll call your bluff, so to speak. Worse, you would probably never find an attorney to accept a medical malpractice case based on a day or two worth of pain and suffering.

As to the infection, because it's been three years since the surgery you may be beyond the statute of limitations period for filing a medical malpractice claim. Check the statute of limitations for your state. Also, it would be wise to get a free consultation with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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