We recently settled a case involving a nine-year-old girl who was taken to a government-subsidized medical clinic. She was seen by a physician’s assistant. She had classic appendicitis symptoms which the PA totally missed: periumbilical abdominal pain, diffuse abdominal tenderness, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and an elevated pulse rate (tachycardia). The PA didn’t order labs, did not order an ultrasound or a CT scan, and did not refer the child to a surgeon. He did not send her to the hospital.

Our client’s appendix ruptured a day or two after this visit. She developed peritonitis and severe sepsis. By the time she got to the hospital, she was in septic shock.

Tragically, although our client survived the surgery, she went on to develop bacterial meningitis and multiorgan failure. She was in the ICU for several days when her arms and legs became weak. She was ultimately diagnosed with critical illness polyneuropathy/myopathy. She will spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair. She is now a quadriplegic who has to write with her mouth.

We litigated this case for five years against the US Department of Justice, which defends Federal Tort Claim Act (FTCA) cases. We spent over $200,000 on litigation costs and expert witnesses. We had eight experts. The case settled the day before trial for a confidential amount. The resulting trust will allow our client to buy wheelchair accessible house and to get the specialized therapy and care she desperately needs. Trust payments are guaranteed for life.

Our client was misdiagnosed with gastroenteritis (stomach flu). If your child receives this diagnosis but fails to feel better within 12 to 24 hours, strongly consider getting a second opinion. The ultimate diagnosis of appendicitis is usually confirmed by blood work and a CT scan or an ultrasound. There are 50,000 to 70,000 cases of pediatric-onset appendicitis cases every year in the United States. It’s a common but very serious disease.