A ruptured (or perforated) bowel is a medical emergency that can cause serious health complications if not diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion. If you have suffered because of a delay in diagnosis, or your ruptured bowel was directly caused by medical error, you need to speak to a solicitor about claiming compensation for your injuries.
Why is a ruptured bowel a medical emergency?
If your bowel has ruptured, it means there is a small hole in either the large or small intestine. This may occur as a result of a traumatic injury (such as a car crash), an illness (such as ulcerative colitis), or a surgical complication. Within hours food and faeces will begin to leak through the hole, spreading into the abdominal cavity. This will be extremely painful for the individual concerned, who will also suffer fever and vomiting. If treatment is withheld, the abdomen will become inflamed and infected – something which can potentially be life-threatening.
Therefore it is vital a ruptured bowel is quickly detected and repaired. If the injury happens during surgery, the surgical team must identify the problem and suture the wound before ending the procedure. On the other hand if a patient presents with the symptoms characteristic of a ruptured bowel, steps should be taken to confirm a diagnosis. This will involve using an x-ray or CT scan to assess whether air has escaped into the peritoneal cavity. If so, emergency surgery must be performed.
Does a delay amount to medical negligence?
As long as urgent action is taken, a patient will soon make a full recovery. On the other hand if there is a delay, the consequences could be devastating. Occasionally this will happen because a patient fails to seek medical attention. However, there are sadly times when a delay in treating a ruptured bowel is the direct result of medical negligence. Usually this will occur for one of two reasons:-
1. Misdiagnosis: medical professionals may fail to recognise the signs and symptoms of a ruptured bowel, instead believing a more minor condition to be at play. A misdiagnosis such as this will cause the patient prolonged pain and suffering, and will also put their health in jeopardy.
2. Surgical negligence: a perforated bowel is a known risk of many surgical procedures. However, if a bowel is accidentally nicked or cut during the course of an operation, the surgeon must take care to repair the injury there and then. A failure to do so will result in additional health problems for the patient, and will also necessitate a second operation.
Compensation for a ruptured bowel
If you have suffered because of a delay in diagnosing a ruptured bowel, you could be entitled to compensation. To find out more information, you need to contact our solicitors for a free of charge consultation to help you move forward with your medical negligence claims.