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Doctor Told Patient Cancer Was Constipation

It is painful for parents to see their child suffering from some illness or ailment. Young children may have a hard time expressing the symptoms they are suffering, which can make it difficult for parents to know exactly what is wrong. This is why they go to the doctor. However, when a doctor misdiagnoses a child, the results can be catastrophic.

Daniel Carter is a 5-year-old boy who may never be able to walk again. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that required removing a portion of his spinal cord. However, when he was first taken to the doctor, his physician wrongly diagnosed his cancer as constipation.

Daniel had been complaining to his parents about stomach pains for months. After the usual remedies did nothing to alleviate the pain, his parents took him to the doctor. The doctor sent him home with a simple diagnosis of constipation. However, the doctor’s solution did nothing to help the boy, and he continued to suffer. Then one day, a few weeks later, his parents found him lying on the floor unconscious.

The boy was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that affects the development of the nervous system. It starts in early forms of nerve cells found in the embryo or fetus. It is most often found in infants and young children. The cancer can spread to other tissue, including bone marrow, lymph nodes, liver and skin.

Daniel was immediately operated on and doctors removed a cancerous lump from his chest. However, the cancer had spread to his spinal cord, and doctors were forced to removed the damaged portion of his spine.

Doctors told his mother the boy would never walk again. “It’s awful but at the end of the day I said at least he is going to have the rest of his life,” said his mother. “What he’s been through is so much, especially for a five-year-old, but he has been absolutely amazing.”

Unfortunately, this type of tragic misdiagnosis is not all that uncommon. Last year, the mother of 7-year-old Connor Sunderland was told her child was suffering from constipation. He was given laxatives but continued to complain about his swollen and painful stomach. When his symptoms got worse, his parents took him to the emergency department where tests revealed the child had a rare form of lymphoma and needed emergency chemotherapy.

In 2013, another mother was told her 5-year-old son’s cancer was constipation. Doctors prescribed young Charlie Woolley laxatives. Months later, doctors finally found a large tumor in his stomach that was so big, it obscured his other organs on the scan. The delayed diagnosis reduced his chances of survival to 40%.

If a loved one has died as a result of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer, the Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to handle the complex process of filing a medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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