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Failure to Timely Diagnose Toxic Megacolon

Medical Malpractice Lawyers Serving Syracuse Residents

The large intestine is in the lowest part of the digestive tract and includes the rectum, colon, and appendix. It finishes digestion by absorbing water and passing waste to the anus. However, toxic mega colon, along with certain other conditions, can cause malfunctioning of the large intestine. Toxic megacolon is a complication of inflammatory bowel disease and involves a widening of the large intestine that develops in a few days and can threaten a person’s life, particularly in the event of a delayed diagnosis. If you believe you have been harmed by a failure to timely diagnose toxic megacolon, you the skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano can review your case.

Toxic Megacolon

Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can cause toxic megacolon. In these situations, the digestive tract may be irritated and swollen. The colon may expand and dilate such that the colon can’t remove feces or gas, and if they build up in the colon, the large intestine may rupture in time. A colon rupture or tear can threaten your life. There are also other types of megacolon such as congenital colonic dilation.

Symptoms of toxic megacolon can include bloating or distention of the abdomen, abdominal pain, fever, rapid heart rate, bloody diarrhea, shock, and painful bowel movements. If you seek the help of a health care provider with these symptoms, he or she will likely inquire about your medical history, including whether you have inflammatory bowel disease, and conduct a physical exam and other tests. More tests are ordered if the doctor has a suspicion of toxic megacolon. You may need to go through a CT scan of your abdomen, X-rays, and blood tests.

Failure to Timely Diagnose Toxic Megacolon

Toxic megacolon needs to be timely diagnosed; the proper treatment is often surgery. Usually, a patient is admitted to the hospital and given fluids for shock before surgery. If there is a tear in the colon, it will need repair to stop the colon’s bacteria from coming into the body. When there isn’t a perforation, the colon tissue can become weak or damaged and require removal through a colectomy, which necessitates a partial or complete removal of the colon. Antibiotics can be taking during and after a surgery to stop sepsis.

Unfortunately, some doctors miss the signs of this condition and fail to diagnose toxic megacolon in a timely fashion, and as a result, bacteria exits the colon and comes into the body and the life of the patient is threatened. In addition to rupture of the colon and sepsis, a patient left undiagnosed may go into a coma. This can result in further serious measures, such as colon removal, which makes an ileostomy or ileoanal pouch-anal anastomosis necessary to remove feces.

In order to collect damages, you will need to show that the failure to timely diagnose toxic megacolon was medical malpractice in your case. This means you will need to prove: (1) you were owed a professional duty of care, (2) your health care provider failed to fulfill the professional duty of care, (3) causation, and (4) actual damages. The professional duty of care that you are owed depends on the circumstances. You will need to retain an expert to look at your medical records and the facts of your case to determine whether your doctor should have diagnosed toxic megacolon at an earlier time, and whether the failure to do so caused you harm. Following this analysis, you will need to file a certificate of merit with your complaint. A dedicated medical malpractice lawyer can help you through all of the procedural aspects of your case.


If you are able to establish liability, you may be able to recover compensatory damages. These are damages intended to put you back in the position you would have been in had you not been subject to medical malpractice. When a loved one dies because of a failure to timely diagnose toxic megacolon, survivors may be able to recover wrongful death damages.

Retain an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney in Syracuse

If you were harmed by a failure to timely diagnose toxic megacolon in Syracuse, you can talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents people in Syracuse, Rochester, and throughout Upstate New York, including in Watertown, Canandaigua, Binghamton, Cooperstown, Oswego, Oneida, Auburn, Lyons, Herkimer, Elmira, Wampsville, Ithaca, Lowville, and Utica. Call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.

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