An Ohio woman named Amanda Buschelman went viral in February on TikTok after telling a story of a visit to her local hospital – leading to a life-threatening misdiagnosis. Buschelman, who is now recovering at home, told viewers the harrowing story of how her case of appendicitis was dismissed as an ovarian cyst, and she was sent home from the emergency room.
“The doctor came in while I was writhing in pain and informed me that the diagnosis was an ovarian cyst,” Buschelman said.
She told the doctor that was impossible.
“And he was very upset with me and said, ‘what do you mean that’s impossible?’ And I said, ‘well, I don’t have any ovaries. I had them surgically removed 10 years ago,’” said Buschelman.
Despite insisting something was seriously wrong, she was sent home from the emergency room.
After visiting other doctors, she was told she had a tumor. While getting it removed, doctors discovered something else.
“Guess what. I had appendicitis the whole time,” Buschelman said in her TikTok video. “I had my appendix taken out along with that little tumor that wasn’t an ovary. I don’t have any of those.”
This is merely the short version. Buschelman’s medical misdiagnosis went on for weeks while she waited for surgery. Her appendicitis, which she had sought medical treatment for two weeks prior, was discovered during the surgery.
What is appendicitis?
Appendicitis occurs when the appendix, a small, finger-shaped organ attached to the large intestine, becomes inflamed and swollen. The exact cause of appendicitis is not always clear, but it can be due to blockage of the appendix, which can be caused by a buildup of fecal matter, a foreign object, or a tumor.
The symptoms of appendicitis can vary but typically include:
- Pain in the lower right abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- High white blood cell count
If left untreated, the appendix can rupture, which can lead to serious complications, such as peritonitis, an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity. Some ruptures can be fatal.
The standard treatment for appendicitis is surgery to remove the appendix, called an appendectomy. In some cases, antibiotics may be given before surgery to reduce inflammation and infection. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent complications and ensure a full recovery.
When is misdiagnosis considered medical malpractice?
Misdiagnosis can be considered malpractice when it meets certain legal requirements. In general, a doctor or healthcare provider can be found liable for malpractice if they fail to provide a reasonable standard of care, which results in harm to the patient. Misdiagnosis may be considered medical malpractice if the healthcare provider failed to:
- Properly evaluate the patient’s symptoms and medical history
- Order appropriate tests or imaging studies
- Recognize and interpret the results of diagnostic tests correctly
- Consult with other medical professionals or specialists if necessary
- Provide appropriate treatment based on the diagnosis
Further, if a healthcare provider’s misdiagnosis results in harm to the patient, such as delayed or incorrect treatment, worsening of the condition, or other complications, the patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. However, it is important to note that not every misdiagnosis or medical error automatically constitutes malpractice, and each case must be evaluated based on its individual circumstances.
It’s unclear if Buschelman has suffered any lasting injuries from her experience and/or if she’ll be taking legal action.
How a medical malpractice lawyer can help
If you or a loved one have suffered from medical malpractice, an experienced attorney can help in a variety of ways:
- Investigate your claim. A medical malpractice attorney will thoroughly investigate your claim to determine if you have a valid case. They will review your medical records, consult with medical experts, and gather evidence to support your claim.
- Determine liability. Your attorney will help determine who is liable for your injuries. This may include the healthcare provider, hospital, or other parties involved in your medical care.
- File a lawsuit. If your attorney determines that you have a valid case, they will file a lawsuit on your behalf. They will handle all aspects of the legal process, including filing court documents, conducting depositions, and representing you in court.
- Negotiate a settlement. In many cases, medical malpractice claims are settled out of court. Your attorney will negotiate with the healthcare provider or their insurance company to reach a settlement that provides you with fair compensation for your injuries.
- Represent you in court. If your case goes to trial, your attorney will represent you in court. They will present evidence and arguments on your behalf and work to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
- Provide legal guidance. Throughout the entire process, your lawyer will provide you with legal guidance and advice. They will explain your rights and options, answer your questions, and ensure that you understand the legal process and everything happening involving your case.
Your medical malpractice attorney can provide valuable legal assistance and support if you believe you’ve suffered from medical malpractice. They can help you navigate the complex legal system and work to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through our contact form or by calling our offices today.
Samantha L. Peters, a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice and personal injury, joined Paulson & Nace, PLLC in 2022. She previously established a medical malpractice section at a Maryland firm. Licensed in Maryland and DC, she was listed in The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40 and Top 100 Medical Malpractice Verdicts.