Fecal Impaction & Bowel Obstructions in Nursing Homes

The nursing home neglect lawyers handle cases involving the failure to diagnose and treat a bowel obstruction, or fecal impaction, in a nursing home resident.  A fecal impaction is a medical emergency that can be fatal if there is a delay in diagnosis and treatment. Small intestinal obstructions account for 20% of surgical admissions to hospitals.

It is essential that the nursing home staff pay attention to irregular bowel movements or complaints of constipation by a resident.  Many times, the resident is unable to make the complaint or describe the problem due to dementia or other issues.  Therefore, the nurses must identify the problem and take prompt action.fecal impaction and bowel obstructions in nursing homes

The diagnosis of a bowel obstruction, or fecal impaction, is made based upon the complaints, symptoms, and presentation of the patient. It is essential that a physician or nurse take a detailed history from the patient an perform pay attention to the resident and perform a proper physical examination to diagnose this condition. A misdiagnosis of a patient with an intestinal obstruction can lead to nursing home neglect lawsuit.

Common symptoms and complaints that should point toward a diagnosis of a bowel obstruction include:

  • Abdominal pain -Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fever and Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
  • Previous abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • Bad Breath

Several findings on physical exams can lead to a diagnosis of an bowel obstruction, especially in connection with the common symptoms and complaints. These include:

  • Abdominal distention
  • Intestinal sounds
  • Blood during rectal examination
  • Fever and Tachycardia

In addition to the symptoms and complaints, there are several tests and studies that are used by doctors to make the diagnosis of an intestinal obstruction. These include abdominal x-rays, CT scans, ultrasonography, and blood tests. It is essential that a physician who suspects that a patient is suffering from an intestinal obstruction perform these tests immediately.  The nursing staff must immediately notify the doctor of any concerns about fecal impaction.  When diagnosed, emergency surgery is often necessary in conjunction with IV anti-biotics, give both before and after surgery.

Time is of the essence in both the diagnosis and treatment of bowel obstructions. If untreated, strangulated obstructions cause death in 100% of patients. If surgery is performed within 36 hours, the death rate decreases to 8%. For surgeries performed after 36 hours, the mortality rate increases to 25%.

When a patient suffers injuries or death due to the delay in diagnosis and treatment of a bowel obstruction, it may give rise to a nursing home negligence lawsuit.  If a patient dies as a result, this warrants the filing of a Michigan wrongful death lawsuit. The surviving family members can seek compensation for the loss of a loved one.

If you suspect that you or a family member has been the victim of nursing home neglect due to a fecal impaction or bowel obstruction,  you should contact our law firm office immediately to discuss your case. There are strict time limitations for filing medical malpractice cases in Michigan and if you wait too long, your case may be barred forever. Call our top rated Michigan medical malpractice lawyers now at (800) 606-1717.

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