Why do doctors misdiagnose pediatric appendicitis?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2023 | Medical Malpractice |

Appendicitis is one of the more common medical emergencies kids face every year. In fact, according to the Cleveland Clinic, roughly 70,000 children develop the condition annually. Luckily, thanks to modern medicine, doctors typically have many options for treating appendicitis.

For doctors to prescribe the right treatment for your son or daughter, though, they need to make the correct diagnosis. Sadly, according to Michigan Health Lab, medical professionals miss appendicitis in as many as 15% of child patients.

Overreliance on a single symptom

Many pediatricians, especially those who work in emergency medicine, believe that appendicitis must come with pain in the lower-right abdomen. While localized abdominal pain certainly can be a symptom of appendicitis, it is not always a symptom. In fact, fewer than half of children with appendicitis have pain in their lower-right abdomens.

The jump test

Because children can have trouble describing their symptoms, doctors often use the jump test when they suspect appendicitis. In theory, children with the condition cannot jump even an inch off the floor or ground. In practice, though, kids might have appendicitis despite being able to pass the jump test.

Other tests

Appendicitis can turn deadly quickly, so one would think doctors would use all available diagnostic tools either to rule out or confirm their diagnosis. This does not always happen, though. Indeed, all too frequently, physicians elect not to order tests because they erroneously believe additional testing is not necessary.

Ultimately, because your child’s life might be in imminent danger, you might have to put up a bit of a fight to get the correct diagnosis and treatment plan for him or her.