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Why do pediatric appendicitis misdiagnoses still happen?

On Behalf of | Jan 5, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Few things can make you feel more powerless as a parent than having a sick child. Luckily, modern medicine provides almost miraculous cures for many pediatric ailments, including appendicitis. For your child to benefit from modern medicine, though, doctors must make a correct and timely diagnosis.

Appendicitis is one of the more commonly misdiagnosed medical emergencies in the U.S. In fact, according to a recent medical study, doctors misdiagnose as many as 15 percent of pediatric appendicitis cases. Sadly, if physicians get your child’s diagnosis wrong, there might be catastrophic consequences.

Localized pain

Medical misdiagnoses happen for a variety of reasons. When it comes to pediatric appendicitis, though, a common myth might be mostly to blame. Specifically, doctors often believe appendicitis comes with acute pain in the lower left side of the patient’s abdomen. While this can be true, more than half of appendicitis patients do not have localized pain.

Jump tests

It is not uncommon for emergency room doctors to ask kids who might be suffering from appendicitis to jump. If a patient can jump even an inch or two off the floor, physicians might be too quick to rule out appendicitis. Nevertheless, it is possible for some children with appendicitis to pass jump tests or even excel at them.


If a child’s appendix ruptures, he or she has a significant risk of dying. This is because toxic fluid can enter the body cavity, potentially causing sepsis or septic shock. While you would think these risks are enough to warrant additional testing, doctors might be too willing to blame a child’s illness on something else and send him or her home.

Ultimately, because you know your child better than any doctor does, you might have to put up a bit of a fight to ensure your sick son or daughter receives an accurate appendicitis diagnosis.


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