Bowel obstructions occur when either your small or large intestine becomes partially or completely blocked. The blockage prevents food, fluids, gas and stool from moving through the intestines. If the blockage is not diagnosed or treated right away, it can lead to dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, vomiting, respiratory problems, aspiration, bowel ischemia or lack of blood and oxygen to the intestine, bowel death, perforation, sepsis and even death.
Bowel obstructions can be caused by tumors or cancer, adhesions, scar tissue, twisting of the bowel, foreign objects, hernias, Crohn's disease, intussusception, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), medications or narcotics, diverticulitis, constipation, fecal impaction or endometriosis. Physicians need to be aware that any patient with one or more of the above conditions is at high risk of developing a bowel obstruction.
Symptoms of a bowel obstruction can include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, vomiting, constipation or lack of bowel movement, inability to pass gas or flatus, or diarrhea. If a patient is at risk of developing a bowel obstruction and exhibits one or more of these signs, the doctor should perform one or more of the following diagnostic tests: blood tests, x-ray, CT scan with contrast, ultrasound or a colonoscopy to determine if there is a bowel obstruction. If a bowel obstruction is not diagnosed and treated it could lead to a bowel perforation, bowel death, sepsis, peritonitis or wrongful death.
If a bowel perforation is diagnosed it will usually be treated in a hospital setting. Initially, the doctor may make a patient NPO or not allow any food or drink by mouth to allow the bowel to rest. A NGT or nasogastric tube may be inserted in the nose and into the stomach to help remove excess gas or stomach contents. Since the patient is not allowed to eat, an intravenous (IV) line is placed to administer fluids, electrolytes and medications. Some obstructions may respond to conservative treatment. However, if a bowel obstruction is due to cancer, a tumor, mass, foreign body or other serious medical problem, the only option may be to undergo surgery to manually remove what is causing the obstruction.
Bowel obstructions can happen in the absence of medical malpractice due to underlying medical conditions or illnesses. However, when a bowel obstruction occurs, it is the responsibility of the physician to properly diagnose and treat the bowel obstruction before additional problems or injuries arise.
Here at the Beasley medical malpractice law firm, we have represented clients of all ages that had undiagnosed or untreated bowel obstructions that led to removal of the intestines, bowel perforations, bowel death, sepsis or even death. If you or a loved one has suffered due to a bowel obstruction please feel free to contact one of our experienced lawyers, doctors or nurses at (215) 866-2424 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.