Wrongly diagnosed with gastritis when I had necrotizing gallbladder...

by Tricia
(High Springs, FL, USA)

Went to a stand alone ER at a Florida University hospital - brand new and supposed to be state of the art. I had increasing right side back pain that started on 1/17 then radiated to the right front starting 1/18. I asked my husband to take me to the ER because I was dying of pain. I showed up around 7am and was taken back immediately.

I was given an EKG and had labs drawn. After sitting there for 4 hrs (in 10/10 pain with no pain meds) I was told I didn't have a heart attack (no, really?) and I had gastritis and could go home. I told the ER Dr. that I was a nurse and was positive it was my gallbladder, even though I had no previous gallbladder problems.

He said "maybe, but there's nothing we can do, we don't have an ultrasound machine." And told me my white count was fine and there were no signs of anything else being wrong. They lied. My white count was over 14 (4-10 is normal) and my other counts were abnormal. I presented TEXT book with cholycystitis.

On Monday 1/20 I made an appt with my PCP because I was still in great pain. She immediately sent me for an ultrasound and called me later that night to have me go to the ER at North Florida Regional. I was immediately brought back, given IV fluids for my SEVERE dehydration, started on 2 different antibiotics (my white count was now over 16!), given pain medication and admitted upstairs.

I was kept overnight and had surgery the next morning first case. The pathology report was necrotizing cholecystitis (gangrene). I suffered extreme pain, got very sick and also had to have a larger incision due to the size of my gallbladder, which caused me to have a longer recovery time. My gallbladder had also started leaking bile and infection into my abdominal cavity.

My surgeon told me it was the worst gallbladder he had ever seen - from someone who does this for a living - and a couple of more days could have been a totally different outcome and I was close to being septic.

How can an ER call themselves state of the art without a simple ultrasound machine, or send me to the main hospital for more tests? Is the first ER or doctor liable for the misdiagnosis? What can I do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Wrongly diagnosed with gastritis when I had necrotizing gallbladder...":

Tricia (High Springs, FL, USA):

Technically, the ER doctor and hospital may be liable for their incorrect diagnosis and the pain and suffering you had to endure as a result of that misdiagnosis. Realistically, because a couple of days later you were properly diagnosed, and as a result did not suffer any permanent injury, the ER doctor and hospital won't be liable for much - a few days of pain and suffering.

They would also likely be liable for the wages you may have incurred if you were unable to work during the period from your misdiagnosis until your surgery, and out-of-pocket expenses for such things as medications, hospital parking fees, etc.

Because of the relatively short time of your unnecessary pain and suffering, it will be difficult to find an attorney to accept your case. It appears there really isn't enough money involved to make it worth an attorney's time.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't seek legal advice. Speak with several malpractice attorneys in your area. Most will not charge for an initial office consultation. Gather all your medical records related to your illness and bring them along. Once several attorneys have reviewed the underlying facts you will know more about the viability of your claim.

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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