A perforated bowel is a severe, potentially fatal medical condition that demands immediate medical attention. While these injuries sometimes result from illnesses like diverticulitis or ulcerative colitis, many occur during surgical procedures. Healthcare providers should timely work-up and diagnose bowel perforations to prevent infection, sepsis, and death. Understanding how perforated bowel injuries happen is crucial to protecting your rights and pursuing a personal injury claim.
The Roanoke, VA, medical malpractice attorneys at Strickland, Diviney & Segura can help you assess whether a healthcare provider was negligent in causing or for failing to timely diagnose a bowel perforation. Our highly skilled and experienced medical malpractice lawyers know how to build a robust case to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms of a perforated bowel, how this injury occurs, and the legal implications.
What Is a Perforated Bowel?
A perforated bowel, also known as bowel perforation, is a severe medical condition where a hole or tear forms in the wall of your intestines. A tear or hole in the intestinal wall allows the contents of the gastrointestinal tract, including partially digested food and bacteria, to leak into the abdominal cavity.
When food or bacteria leak out of the intestines, it can lead to peritonitis, a severe and potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the abdomen’s lining. Receiving prompt medical attention for a perforated bowel is critical, as the complications can be severe, including sepsis and shock.
Symptoms of a Perforated Bowel
Common symptoms of a perforated bowel include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Tenderness in the abdomen
- Swelling or bloating of the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- High fever
- Rapid heart rate
- Fatigue or weakness
- Dizziness or fainting
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty in passing gas or having a bowel movement
- Blood in stool or vomit
- Septic shock (in severe cases)
How Do Perforated Bowel Injuries Occur?
Certain diseases and health conditions can make someone more likely to suffer a perforated bowel injury. These include Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, appendicitis, and stomach ulcers. These conditions can cause inflammation or infection that weakens the bowel wall, making it susceptible to perforation.
Trauma to the abdomen, whether blunt or penetrating, can also cause perforation. For example, car accidents or falls from heights can cause the intestinal wall to tear, leading to a perforated bowel. Sharp objects, like a knife or a bullet, can directly penetrate the bowel wall, causing a hole or tear.
However, one of the significant causes of perforated bowel injuries is complications from surgery, particularly after abdominal surgery. Surgeons must exercise great care while performing procedures on or near the gastrointestinal tract. If they inadvertently cause a tear or hole in the bowel wall during the operation, it can result in perforation. If healthcare professionals fail to timely diagnose or treat a bowel perforation that may be held liable for medical malpractice. Negligence in recognizing symptoms, delayed treatment, or mistakes during surgery can lead to perforation or exacerbate an existing one.
Legal Implications of a Perforated Bowel Injury
The viability of a medical malpractice claim depends on the analysis of each case’s facts. This includes a case-specific determination of whether an intestinal perforation was caused by negligence or whether it was timely diagnosed. Not all surgical complications, including bowel perforations, result from negligence, but you may have a legal case if your healthcare provider didn’t meet the accepted standard of care during surgery or failed to timely appreciate symptoms that were consistent with a bowel perforation. When a perforated bowel injury occurs due to medical negligence or a healthcare provider failed to take reasonable steps to determine whether a perforation has occurred, you can seek compensation for your injuries.
The Roanoke injury attorneys at Strickland, Diviney & Segura can help you understand the legal implications of bowel perforation caused by medical malpractice. Our team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys can assess your situation, identify the negligent parties, and aggressively pursue compensation for your injuries. Call us at (540) 982-7787 or complete our contact form for a complimentary case review.