Complications from this procedure may be indication of medical negligence.
An upper endoscopy is a test that allows a physician to examine the inside of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine or duodenum - an area called the upper digestive system - by inserting a thin, long tube through the patient's mouth and throat. At the end of the tube is a tiny, lighted camera or an ultrasound that projects a view of the internal walls of these organs onto a screen or monitor, allowing the doctor to look for abnormalities, injuries and diseases such as gastritis, ulcers or cancer.
In addition to being used to visually inspect the inside of these organs, the endoscope may remove a tissue sample to be biopsied. The scope can also administer treatment like removing a polyp or lodged object.
Upper endoscopies may be performed in a hospital, as an outpatient or in a physician's office. Often they are done by a medical specialist in digestion called a gastroenterologist.
Mayo Clinic describes the endoscopy as a "very safe procedure" with rare complications such as:
- Bleeding, occasionally severe enough to require transfusion
- Internal tearing or perforation, which can be extremely serious and may require surgical repair
- Infection, usually minor, but a patient with a weak immune system may take antibiotics before the test
Mayo also describes the symptoms that could suggest a problem after an endoscope and which require emergency treatment:
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Severe pain in the abdomen
- Chest pain
- Bloody or dark stool
When a complication develops after an endoscopy, it is first important to get thorough and immediate emergency treatment, including a second opinion if the first medical provider is not appropriately responsive. A medical malpractice lawyer should be consulted as early as possible so that a review of medical records and other investigative actions can be taken to determine whether all accepted medical standards and procedures were followed before and during the procedure, as well as in follow-up to complications.
Medical negligence and endoscopies
Examples of the types of medical negligence or breach of the appropriate medical standard of care that could have harmful endoscopic outcomes include:
- Failure to follow proper equipment disinfection procedures between patients
- Failure to appropriately respond to signs of complications
- Improper performance of the procedure
- Failure to recognize symptoms of perforation during or after surgery
- Failure to follow accepted protocols to keep the procedure safe and respond to problems that arise
Depending on the circumstances, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be appropriate against physicians or specialists who performed the procedure or who provided follow-up care for related problems, nurses, clinics, hospitals or personnel responsible for sterilization of equipment. A lawyer may also look at whether the scope itself was defectively or dangerously designed or manufactured, which could be the basis of a product liability action.
The potential injury from a medical mistake involving an endoscopy can be devastating and permanent. It is crucial for legal counsel to advocate for adequate damages to compensate for past and future medical costs, long-term care, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.
The lawyers at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP, with four New York City-area offices represent the victims of medical malpractice and negligence in endoscopic procedures and other surgical errors.