Misdiagnosis of injuries to internal organs

If you feel that you or a loved one has suffered from an internal injury that has been misdiagnosed or mistreated contact our specialist clinical negligence team who are experts in misdiagnosis claims and will be able to provide you with advice on a claim for compensation, call us on 0203 817 9430.

How can internal injuries can occur?

  • Blunt trauma - for example, from a road traffic accident, crushing injury or a direct blow.
  • Penetrating injury - for example, from a stabbing or a gun shot.
  • Surgical injury - for example, where a surgeon has caused a direct injury to an adjoining internal organ whilst carrying out a removal of an adjacent organ.

Regardless of how the injury has occurred, it is usually necessary to seek medical attention and frequently injuries to internal organs can be misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.

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Common claims

Failure to diagnose and treat appendicitis
The symptoms are often diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and doctors frequently fail to take the patients account of pain seriously causing the appendix to rupture and cause life threatening injuries to the patient.

Failure to diagnose and treat internal bleeding
Sometimes internal bleeding can be reabsorbed within the body following trauma, although it may take several days and weeks to do so. However, sometimes a rupture can occur which may cause life threatening injuries leading to peritonitis.

Failure to recognise an injury to an internal organ during an operation
It is regularly listed within a consent form that injuries to other internal organs are a recognised risk of abdominal surgery. However, when the patient is unfortunate enough to suffer an injury to an adjacent organ during surgery, the operating surgeon is under a duty of care to carefully inspect the area where he/she has operated to ensure that an accidental injury has not occurred. If an injury has occurred during surgery and is identified quickly then the patient will rarely suffer additional harm due to the injury as it will be repaired during the initial surgery.

However, if the injury is not detected before the conclusion of the operation and the patient suffers additional harm or needs a further operation to repair the damage then the patient may have a claim even though the risk of injury was on the consent form.

Symptoms of internal bleeding can include:

  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Swelling and tightness of a limb
  • Headache and loss of consciousness

How are internal injuries detected?

Exploratory surgery
Some injuries to internal organs are obvious. For example, a stab wound would cause a surgeon to carry out an exploratory operation to investigate and repair the damage caused by the trauma. Sometimes an exploratory operation is undertaken when all other investigations are not able to provide a conclusive diagnosis. The procedure can frequently be undertaken by a laparoscopic surgery (often described as ‘keyhole’ surgery) or on occasions the patient may need to undergo an open operation which will result in scarring.

CT or ultrasound scan
An ultrasound scan is a quick and easy way of scanning a patient, usually at their bedside, to detect injuries to internal organs and internal bleeding. A CT scan may take a little longer to arrange and you would usually need to be moved to a scanner but it can provide more precise imaging of the internal structures.

Urine sample/test
These simple tests can reveal blood in the urine which often indicates damage to part of the urinary system.

What happens if an internal injury is misdiagnosed or left untreated?

Some internal injuries may resolve on their own over time. However, a lot of internal injuries require surgical repair to stop the blood loss and repair the damaged organ. Depending on how much blood has been lost, a patient may require intravenous fluids and a blood transfusion.

If the injury has been left misdiagnosed for some time then it could lead to death of the organ and the organ will require removal. Rare but serious consequences of misdiagnosis of internal injuries can lead to the need for a transplant or even death.

To speak to a member of our clinical negligence team about a compensation claim call us for some free initial advice on 0203 817 9430 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.

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