According to research, failure to diagnose is the top reason people file medical malpractice lawsuits. One medical condition that can be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed is gastroparesis. This is a condition that can mimic several other medical conditions, including celiac disease, pyloric gastrointestinal obstruction, gastric ulcers, and gastritis. It is estimated that 4% of people have gastroparesis.
If you believe you may have gastroparesis, you may be considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit for failure to diagnose it. Here's what you need to know.
Gastroparesis Definition & Symptoms
The way medical terminology is constructed makes it easy to figure out the meaning of medical words. In this case, gastro- is the root word that is used to describe the stomach. The suffix -paresis is used to describe paralysis. Therefore, gastroparesis is when the stomach is paralyzed.
The symptoms of gastroparesis include abdominal pain, burping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, reflux (when stomach contents go up into the esophagus, which is the tube between the mouth and the stomach), and early satiety (feeling full after a few bites).
How It's Diagnosed & Treated
Gastroparesis is diagnosed by performing a gastric emptying scintigraphy, which is a test that allows the physician to see how much food leaves the stomach after it is digested. Another test that can be used to diagnose gastroparesis is electrogastrography, which detects the electrical rhythm of the stomach. However, since gastroparesis is somewhat rare, these testing procedures may not be considered until other diseases and conditions are ruled out.
Tests done to rule out other causes of gastric distress include blood tests, endoscopy of the upper gastrointestinal tract, ultrasound of the abdomen, and a barium series of the gastrointestinal tract with a follow-through of the small bowel.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for gastroparesis. However, there are treatment options that can help alleviate the symptoms. Typically, treatment includes medication and a change in eating habits to avoid foods that are high in fat and fiber. A liquid diet may be recommended. Sometimes, IV fluids may be necessary. In extreme cases, a jejunostomy is required, which is a surgical procedure in which a feeding tube is placed into the jejunum, which is a part of the small intestine.
Getting Second & Third Opinions
It's a good idea to always get a second opinion when it comes to diagnoses. However, in the case of a rare disease like gastroparesis, it's a good idea to get a third opinion as well. However, there is one crucial thing you must do if you feel you've been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed: take all previous medical test results to the physicians that provide you with second and third opinions.
The reason for this is so you will be able to prove that your physician should have been able to diagnose you based on seeing the same test results. That way, he or she will not be able to claim that you developed gastroparesis after those initial tests were taken. Also, the physicians giving you second and third opinions can use the previous test results for comparison to see if your gastroparesis has worsened.
Why You Should Consider a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
People who develop this condition often lose weight because their stomachs are unable to digest food. Therefore, going undiagnosed or being misdiagnosed can cause the person to lose too much weight since they are not being treated properly for the medical condition they have. This can result in extreme weight loss and nutritional deficiencies, which could affect all aspects of the person's life, including their employment. This can lead to the want and need for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you feel that this is the case for you, speak with an attorney, such as Robert Reardon, about your potential lawsuit.