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Appendicitis: Antibiotics May Work Just as Well as Surgery

Appendicitis is a condition that is characterized by inflammation of the appendix. The most common symptom of the disorder is severe pain in the lower right side of the abdomen, which is also often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating.

Typically, the treatment for appendicitis is immediate surgery. However, new research suggests that in children whose appendicitis is not critical—i.e. the appendix has not ruptured and the child’s white blood cell count remains relatively low—antibiotics may be as effective of a treatment option. Over-treating a patient, particularly without the patient’s informed consent, may be considered an act of malpractice.

Journal of the American Medical Association Study

The conclusion stated above was formed after researchers conducted a study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), analyzing the outcomes of appendectomy (surgery) vs. antibiotics for children suffering from appendicitis. 102 children were involved in the study, all of whom were ages nine through 13. Of the 102 suffering from appendicitis, 65 families chose to treat the appendicitis with appendectomy, whereas 37 chose management via antibiotic treatment.

Twenty-one months later, the results were hopeful; less than 25 percent of the children who had been treated only using antibiotics required an appendectomy. The study suggests that surgery for appendicitis may be, at times, unnecessary.

Surgery More Risky

Not only may surgery may an unnecessary treatment option—obviously more intrusive than antibiotics—but it is also more risky. In the study cited above, the surgery group had more complications, and according to an article published in The New York Times, the cost of not getting surgery was on average 16 percent lower than was the cost of undergoing the operation.

Understanding Your Rights as a Patient and a Parent

If you or your child is suffering from appendicitis, surgery may not be the best route for you. On the other hand, antibiotic treatment alone may not be enough to correct the appendicitis, depending upon its progression and severity. It is important that you obtain the opinion of medical experts before choosing a treatment route. You have the right to learn about both options and both options’ risks. If you do not give informed consent, i.e., your doctor fails to tell you about the procedures in full before you agree to one, then your doctor has violated your rights. If one of the procedures results in harm, your doctor may have committed an act of malpractice.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys Serving You

Knowing which treatment option for appendicitis is best can be complicated. However, you have the right to make an informed decision. Further, you also have the right to be treated with a high standard of care – if you are not, and you have been injured or suffered loss as a direct result, you may have a medical malpractice claim for damages. To learn more about what this means and what you can do, contact the experienced Pennsylvania and New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. You can reach us to schedule your free case consultation now at (215) 567-3500.

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