Bowel Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice

A bowel injury occurs when a doctor perforates, cuts, or burns a hole in the lining of the colon during surgery or a procedure like a colonoscopy.  Contents of the colon then leak into the abdominal cavity causing inflammation and infection.  This can lead to severe complications, and even death.

A doctor’s failure to timely recognize and treat the injury, either during the procedure or when the patient first complains of the tell-tale signs, puts the patient’s life in danger and may be medical malpractice.   

Did the doctor commit malpractice in injuring the bowel?

Perforating the bowel during an abdominal or pelvic surgery may be, but is not always, negligence. It can occur when the surgeon inserts the trocar, with electrocautery, during suturing or cutting away adhesions.  The bowel can be also injured during an enema, bowel prep for colonoscopy or during a colonoscopy.  The doctor should discover the injury during the procedure, and repair it. 

Failure to timely discover the injury during the procedure, and repair it, may be negligent.  Failing to timely diagnose a patient who presents to the doctor’s office or emergency department with tell-tale signs of a bowel perforation may also be negligent.

Did the doctor miss signs of a bowel injury?

Doctors know that bowel injuries can occur.  It is usually negligent if a patient has signs and symptoms of a perforation, and the doctor fails to timely diagnose and treat it.  

Symptoms of bowel injury can include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Severe abdominal cramping
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Change in bowel movements
  • Fever and chills

This is especially true if the patient has risk factors for perforation, like pelvic adhesions.

Did the doctor timely diagnose and treat the injury?

Ideally, the doctor would recognize and treat a perforation when it happened.  However, if that didn’t happen, when presented with a patient complaining of signs and symptoms, a CT scan, or repeat scans if the patient does not improve, will reveal the injury. The longer the injury goes undiagnosed, the more likely the patient’s other organs will be affected by the inflammation and infection and will require major surgery and significant recovery time. 

Damages from failure to recognize, diagnose or timely treat bowel injury

Recoverable damages are different from case to case. If a loved one died because of a bowel injury, the close family members might have a wrongful death lawsuit. If you suffered severe complications from a bowel injury, you might be able to recover for wage loss, past and future medical bills, and pain and suffering. It is important to explore your legal rights before your statute of limitations expires.  If you or a loved one suffered a bowel injury that could be caused by medical malpractice in Michigan, contact Hoffer & Sheremet, PLC at 616.278.0888 to learn more about compensation to which you or a loved one may be entitled to or fill out our free consultation form.