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The third most common medical mistake is the failure to timely diagnose appendicitis. A delay in diagnosis of appendicitis can lead to serious consequences, including death, particularly in adults.

Unfortunately, James Bowers learned this first hand. A Texas resident, Mr. Bowers went to the emergency romm with complaints of nausea and abdominal pain, that had migrated to the right side of his abdomen (where pain from appendicitis is typically felt). Mr. Bowers had a CT scan, which a doctor read and concluded that Mr. Bowers had diverticulitis and sent him home, even thought the CT showed an englarged appendix and other classic signs of appendicitis. When Mr. Bower’s condition worsened, he went back to the hospital, more than a week after his initial trip. The doctors continued to treat him for diverticulitis because of the incorrect reading of the first doctor.

Mr. Bower’s appendix ruptured, and the delay in treatment resulted in an abscess and severe infection. As a result, rather than a short recovery that usually occurs after a timely appendectomy, Mr. Bowers missed more than a month of work and had to have home health care because of the time it took for his wound to heal.

A Texas jury agreed that the doctor in this case was negligent in missing the appendicitis diagnosis. Not surprisingly, the doctor’s insurance company had refused to make any offer of settlement before the trial. I am glad the jury got this one right. And I hope that Mr. Bowers is doing well.

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