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Diagnosis of Diverticular Abscess

Diagnosis of Diverticular Abscess

If doctors failed to diagnose your diverticular abscess in a timely fashion, leaving you to suffer severe complications, you could be in a position to make a medical negligence claim.

Symptoms of a diverticular abscess

A diverticular abscess is an abscess (a pus-filled lump) inside the large intestine. It is a complication of diverticular disease, a common condition in which small bulges develop on the lining of the intestine and become inflamed.

Diverticular disease is not in itself a serious illness and it can be managed with diet changes and painkillers. But if one of the bulges becomes infected, a patient is said to have diverticulitis. This can lead to more severe problems, including a diverticular abscess.

The symptoms of a diverticular abscess include:-

  • Rectal bleeding;
  • Cramping abdominal pain;
  • Loose stools;
  • Abdominal bloating and discomfort.

Diagnosing a diverticular abscess

Anyone who presents to their GP or A&E department with the aforementioned symptoms should undergo further investigations. Indeed, all reasonable practitioners would agree that blood within the stool is concerning, especially in patients over the age of 40.

An adequate history should be noted, including an enquiry about a patient's health, loss of appetite, weight loss and any changes in bowel habit. It is important to ask about the presence of fever, muscular aches and pains and the frequency of opening the bowels.

A physical examination of the abdomen and rectum should be performed. It is also necessary to take a patient's temperature, and send blood, urine and stool samples off for testing.

Delayed diagnosis of diverticular abscess

Based on the history and pathology results, a medical practitioner should refer a patient for further investigations particularly in the form of an urgent gastroenterology opinion. As long as this action is taken, it should be possible to make a timely diagnosis of a diverticular abscess.

However, some medical practitioners will not properly assess a patient's symptoms or test results, instead making a wrong diagnosis. Common misdiagnoses of a diverticular disease include:-

  • Haemorrhoids;
  • Inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Ulcerative colitis;
  • Crohn's disease;
  • Cancer;
  • Enteritis.

This can have devastating consequences, as a delay in treatment will allow the abscess to grow and potentially rupture. This can lead to serious infections such as peritonitis and necrotising fasciitis.

What action can you take?

If this is something that has affected you or your loved one, you should speak to a solicitor about making a medical negligence claim. This is because any reasonable medical professional should be able to diagnose a diverticular abscess, or at least appreciate the need for further investigations. A failure to do so will represent a substandard level of care, meaning you could be entitled to claim compensation.

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