Filing a Claim when Misdiagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
New Jersey IBS Misdiagnosis Lawyers can Help You Seek Compensation
Stomach pain happens to nearly everyone over a lifetime, whether you suffer from indigestion, constipation, a case of the flu, or even a pulled muscle. However, when the pain persists over time, it may be more than a stomachache. Chronic intestinal disturbances can be signs of something more serious, from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which can most often be managed, to stomach cancer, which must be caught in the early stages of development to improve the odds of successful treatment. Since there are no concrete tests for IBS, doctors base their diagnosis on reported symptoms and by eliminating other similar conditions. Due to the ambiguity often involved in diagnosing the source of gastrointestinal problems, doctors frequently misdiagnose patients seeking help for unexplained symptoms. If not thorough and cautious, a physician can mistake a more serious condition for IBS. This type of error can be dangerous, as severe conditions accompanied by stomach pain may persist, metastasize, and ultimately lead to greater damage of the patient’s health.
If your serious medical condition was subject to misdiagnosis as irritable bowel syndrome, or you have been a victim of delayed diagnosis, you may have legal grounds to pursue compensation. Fronzuto Law Group’s team of medical malpractice lawyers will conduct a thorough investigation of your case to uncover what went wrong and when, and who can be held accountable for your financial, physical, and emotional damages. To request a free evaluation of your IBS misdiagnosis claim, contact our local New Jersey offices at (973)-435-4551.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): The Basics
Gastrointestinal dysfunction, such as IBS, affects bowel muscles and generally results from the brain and nervous system affecting the gastroenterological (GI) system. There are three primary types of IBS, which include IBS with constipation, IBS with diarrhea, and IBS with mixed bowel habits. The names correspond with how often you have abnormal bowel movements and exactly how that manifests in your individual case. For example, if more than 25% of your stools are hard, then you likely have IBS with constipation. About 12% of Americans have irritable bowel syndrome, with women being twice as likely to experience it, and younger people more affected than those older than 50.
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is not one but many symptoms that may appear in the body in the form of:
- Abdominal pain
- Bowel movement variability
- Alternating between diarrhea and constipation
The severity of the symptoms depends upon the sensitivity of your gut and is often influenced by external circumstances affecting your emotional and physical health.
Why do People get IBS?
Genetics, stress, trauma, and severe digestive tract infection are several factors that increase the likelihood of developing IBS. In addition, people with this condition commonly have other health problems, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic pelvic pain. They may also suffer from indigestion, acid reflux, anxiety, depression and food intolerances. Although IBS is a chronic disease, symptoms may not be constant, coming and going throughout your life. A problem with gut and brain communication is the only known source of irritable bowel, resulting in food moving too slowly through the digestive system or too quickly, which leads to bowel movement disturbances or gassiness. Those in the medical community speculate that individuals with stressful lives, early childhood trauma, depression, anxiety, digestive tract disorders, bacterial overgrowth in the intestines, genetics, and food intolerances or sensitivities may all contribute to IBS. Some with the condition may have a colon that contracts too slowly or experiences spastic contractions. Other cases of IBS may be caused by an abnormal amount of serotonin in the colon. Still others develop irritable bowel symptoms due to damaged intestines caused by celiac disease.
Diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is diagnosed through a review of the patient’s medical history and symptoms, along with a physical exam, which involves checking for bloating, abdominal sounds and tenderness. A doctor might ask whether digestive problems like celiac disease, colon cancer, or other inflammatory bowel conditions, are family inheritances. Aside from abdominal pain during a bowel movement and bowel movement changes, IBS is also detected by mucus in the stool and bloating, with symptoms increasing around menstruation. Physicians may also confirm the medications that you take and if you have suffered any recent infections. Diet and history of other health issues are also important, as these affect a person’s overall health.
Since there is no straightforward test for irritable bowel syndrome, doctors usually run simple tests, such as blood and stool tests, to exclude other health issues. Alternative conditions like anemia, infection, digestive disorders, ulcers, bloody stools, colon cancer, appendicitis, pancreatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease, should all be disqualified prior to making an IBS diagnosis. Your healthcare team may also run breath tests to check for excess bacteria in the intestines and lactose intolerance. And upper GI scoping may reveal celiac disease. Likewise, a colonoscopy may detect colon cancer or another inflammatory bowel condition.
Primarily, doctors diagnose the condition based on symptom patterns, such as abdominal pain accompanied with bowel movements, bowel movement frequency changes, or stool changes. Depending upon the frequency and longevity of the symptoms, for instance, six months or more of symptoms appearing weekly over three of the six months, doctors may diagnose IBS. Nevertheless, irritable bowel is very often confused with other disorders and conditions that affect the same areas of the body, so physicians must be alerted to symptoms such as anemia, bloody stools, rectal bleeding and weight loss. These signs may point to more serious conditions like cancer.
Is there Treatment for IBS?
When dealing with irritable bowel syndrome, treatment consists largely of controlling symptoms by dietary restrictions, probiotic supplements (live gut bacteria) and other medications, along with stress reduction, sufficient rest, and increased exercise. A doctor may recommend more fiber, avoiding gluten and the FODMAP diet, which is a low sugar diet excluding gas producing food, like beans and dairy. Medications that may be used to treat IBS include diarrhea treatment drugs, antibiotics, and constipation combatants, like added fiber supplements and laxatives. Pain relief medication for stomach pain may also be helpful.
Mistaking the Symptoms of IBS & Misdiagnosis
Since abdominal pain is a symptom of many other conditions, from mere stomachaches due to indigestion to stomach, colon, or rectal cancer that may be life threatening, doctors must be especially careful that a diagnosis of IBS results from careful exclusion of other more serious disorders that, if left untreated, could lead to death or unnecessarily prolonged and painful treatment. For example, colon cancer, if left untreated, metastasizes or spreads into the lymph nodes and other organs, which then becomes deadly. Ulcerative colitis, or large intestine inflammation, is another commonly confused condition for IBS. If left untreated, this serious condition can lead to arthritis, osteoporosis, liver damage, and colon cancer.
If your physician failed to run the appropriate tests before diagnosing you with IBS, which led to an undiagnosed serious condition, you may have justifiable legal action. Doctors and other healthcare providers have a duty to exercise the professional care that other professionals with the same qualifications, education, and experience are expected to deliver. Whether your case involves misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, a successful lawsuit can provide the compensation you deserve for wrongfully inflicted injuries resulting from medical malpractice.
Misdiagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome in NJ? Contact Us Today
If you have been forced to cope with the pain and suffering of progressive inflammatory bowel conditions due to failures on the part of medical professionals or facilities in New Jersey, the medical malpractice attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group are here to provide the dedicated legal counsel and vigorous representation you need. Contact us online or by calling (973)-435-4551 to speak with a New Jersey medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate your case for medical negligence.