What Happens When an Upper Endoscopy Test Results in an Abdominal Tear?

Doctor giving patient an Upper Endoscopy Test Jim Dodson LawTo diagnose patients’ gastrointestinal discomfort or pain, doctors frequently order an EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy), also known as an upper endoscopy test. It examines nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

What is an EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy) or Upper Endoscopy Test and is the Procedure Safe?

An endoscope is inserted in the mouth, and the doctor passes the instrument down the esophagus. A tiny camera at the tip transmits images to a video monitor in the exam room, looking for abnormalities in the digestive tract. Images can be recorded for later examination. Specific surgical tools can also be passed through the endoscope to collect tissue samples or remove polyps.

Although generally considered a safe and fairly quick procedure, complications can arise. Signs and symptoms that not all is well include fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, severe or persistent abdominal pain, and vomiting. These could be caused by bleeding, infection, tearing of the gastrointestinal tract, or a reaction to the initial sedation.

Example of What Happened to a Patient Who had an EGD that Caused a Perforated Viscus

A worst-case scenario involving a perforation or tear in the GI tract can cause the contents of the stomach, small intestine, or large bowel to seep into the abdomen. There, bacteria can enter and possibly lead to peritonitis, which can cause blood poisoning or sepsis—a life-threatening condition.

Here is a case in point. A woman complaining of loss of appetite and weight loss went to her primary care physician for evaluation. He referred her to a doctor for an EGD procedure. However, the second doctor did not bring the patient into his office for a pre-procedure evaluation. Instead, he performed an upper GI endoscopy, took multiple biopsies, and removed a polyp with a hot snare.

Approximately an hour later, the patient was discharged home but fainted from abdominal pain as she was getting into her car. She was returned to the surgery center and evaluated by the same doctor, at which point she was pale with shallow breathing, and she was non-responsive. Intravenous fluids were started and pain medication administered. The patient revived but complained of continued abdominal pain. The doctor failed to order any diagnostic testing to determine the cause of pain. No further investigation was made, and she was discharged.

At home the patient continued to feel pain and began vomiting. Her husband tried to reach the doctor, who did not return his calls. Then he called the surgery center which then made contact with the doctor. The patient was instructed to go to the emergency room. There a CT scan of the abdomen was done, showing a moderate amount of free air in it, likely from a perforation of the viscus caused by the EGD performed by the doctor earlier that day.

Spending several weeks in the hospital trying to heal from the perforation, the patient died less than a month after the EGD procedure from a perforated viscus.

The Doctor's Negligence is Considered Medical Malpractice

Careless and negligent in the care and treatment of the decedent, the doctor failed on two major counts: failure to order imaging studies after the EGD when the patient complained of post-procedure pain and fainted; and failure to consider and include possible perforation on his post-procedure diagnosis assessment, which would’ve required him to order more diagnostic tests to rule out perforation.

Do You Think You May Have A Medical Malpractice Claim?

If this type of incident has happened to you or anyone in your circle or family, you should speak with a reputable medical malpractice attorney. The state of Florida has strict time limits on when such a claim may be brought. If you delay in consulting with an attorney, your opportunity to pursue a claim may be lost entirely.

Contact us online or call our office directly at 727-446-0840 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Even if we are unable to take on your case, we always do our best to suggest other attorneys who can assist you.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.