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Missed Appendicitis Diagnosis Caused Infertility

17 year old K presented to A&E with vomiting and abdominal pain, and underwent chest and abdominal x-rays. More tests showed K to have an elevated white cell count, but she was discharged from hospital.

Her symptoms did not improve, leading to another visit to hospital, where she was then diagnosed with a perforated appendix. K underwent a laparoscopic appendicectomy but went on to develop peritonitis from the perforation, suffered with respiratory distress as a result of an extended infection and also required an ileostomy.

K now suffers from increased bowel frequency, discomfort around her wound and secondary infertility.

Our approach

We argued that all of K’s subsequent medical problems could have been avoided or their impact lessened, had the correct diagnosis of appendicitis been made on her first visit to A&E.

The outcome

We were able to secure an admission of liability, but there was a dispute over the additional damage caused to K’s health. We eventually secured an award of £200,000, which included allowances for potentially costly IVF treatment in the future.

The case in detail

K was aged 17 when she became unwell with symptoms of vomiting and abdominal pain. She initially went to the A&E Department.  Abdominal and chest x-rays were performed. Despite further investigations to include a full blood count which showed an elevated white cell count K was discharged and advised to seek further assessment if her symptoms deteriorated. As K’s case symptoms did not improve, she re-attended the A&E Department. A perforated appendix was diagnosed. She underwent a laparoscopic appendicectomy. However, she ended up with peritonitis from the perforation, suffered with respiratory distress as a result of an extended infection and also required an ileostomy which was subsequently reversed four months later.  

K suffered from increased bowel frequency, she experienced discomfort over the site of her abdominal wound as well as suffering from adhesions and secondary infertility.

During our investigations it became apparent that there was negligence by the hospital for failing to undertake investigations and failing to make a diagnosis when she first presented herself to the A&E Department. We were able to secure an early admission of liability. However, there were issues between the parties on the additional damage caused due to the hospitals negligence, particularly the problems with infertility but eventually we were able to secure a settlement of £200,000.00 for K which included an award to reflect the fact that she may well require IVF treatment to deal with her infertility.