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Bowel Perforation Caused by Colonoscopy

Colonoscopies are one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States today. In fact, the American Cancer Society recommends that both men and women should begin getting colonoscopies every 10 years, starting at age 50. This outpatient procedure is one of the most effective methods of screening for colorectal cancers, polyps, and ulcerations, among other potentially serious medical conditions. Colonoscopies are so effective at detecting colorectal cancers on the left side of the colon, that they reduce deaths from this type of cancer by approximately two-thirds. Colonoscopies are relatively safe, but as with any medical procedure, there are risks involved. Contact a Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Attorney Today.

Bowel perforation is one of the most common, and dangerous, complications associated with colonoscopies. When a perforated bowel occurs, it can result in blood infections, sepsis, and even death. Symptoms of bowel perforation may include nausea, a high fever, severe abdominal pain, and intense vomiting. Although bowel perforation can have a number of causes, including traumatic injury, appendicitis, and Crohn’s disease, the most common cause of medical malpractice-related bowel perforation is colonoscopy. Patients with colon or rectal disease are at a much greater risk of bowel perforation than those without any pre-existing conditions.

Is it Medical Malpractice if Bowel Perforation Occurs During a Colonoscopy?

Physicians should be aware of the risk of bowel perforation and should take all available precautions to avoid it. When they neglect to do so, they may be found guilty of medical malpractice. According to a report in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, the incidence of perforations may be as high as 5% in some colonoscopic interventions. Complications caused by perforation can be extremely dangerous. In addition to the potential for infection and stoma-formation, bowel perforation has an exceptionally high mortality rate. Diagnostic colonoscopies have a lower risk than therapeutic. Patients undergo diagnostic colonoscopies so that a physician may visualize the colorectal area and diagnose any problems. Therapeutic colonoscopies are intended to treat an already identified problem, such as removing polyps.

Follow-up care is essential and should be performed by your physician within an appropriate amount of time following surgery. The longer a bowel perforation goes unnoticed, and thus untreated, the greater the risk of developing serious complications. While every patient undergoing a colonoscopy is at risk, certain factors increase that risk. These include:

  • Therapeutic colonoscopies
  • Patients undergoing polypectomy (polyp removal) during colonoscopy
  • Patients over 75 years of age
  • Patients with certain pre-existing conditions, including diabetes, CPD, congestive heart failure, heart attack, diverticular disease, liver disease, and dimentia
  • Previous intra-abdominal surgeries
  • Colonic obstruction
  • Female patients
Altman & Altman, LLP - Medical Malpractice Law Firm Serving All of Massachusetts

Although the above factors increase the risk of perforation during a colonoscopy, physicians are still expected, and required, to take necessary precautions at all times. If you have been injured during a colonoscopy, it is in your best interest to contact us immediately. We can assess the details of your case to help you determine whether medical malpractice played a role. If it did, you may be entitled to compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our skilled legal team has been protecting the rights of medical malpractice victims for nearly 50 years. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

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