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Fecal Impaction

Fecal Impaction

Experienced South Carolina Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers on Your Side

Learn more about the effects of fecal impaction on your loved one’s health

Many nursing home residents have an increased risk of developing a condition known as fecal impaction, or impacted bowel. This condition can produce severe pain and other medical complications if left unnoticed and untreated.

Patients who evidence signs of fecal impaction may need to immediately undergo a colonoscopy to check the intestines for blockage. As well, additional measures must be taken after the blockage is removed in order to ensure the patient does not have a reoccurrence of the condition.

South Carolina nursing home staff members have an important responsibility to remain attentive to the various needs of their patients, including any symptoms that indicate the need for medical treatment. The failure to diagnose or properly treat a medical condition can put the nursing home and/or its practitioners in legal jeopardy for medical negligence or malpractice. At McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, an adept nursing home neglect lawyer from our team can investigate the case involving your loved one and the failure of the nursing home, and take strong legal action to help you obtain justice and rightful compensation.

What is fecal impaction?

Also referred to as impacted bowel or fecal obstruction, fecal impaction occurs when a massive hard, dry stool is hindered from passing out of the colon or rectum. When the stool is trapped like this and unable to pass out of the body, the individual can experience some very severe symptoms.

Symptoms of an impacted bowel

  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Bad breath
  • Fever and increased heart rate (Tachycardia)

Additional symptoms indicating fecal impaction include breathing issues, confusion, and circulatory problems. Fecal impaction can result in a restriction of blood flow to the intestines. When this occurs, tissue can die leading to the weakening of the intestine walls and subsequent intestinal tears. Failure to diagnose and treat a nursing home resident with fecal impaction can ultimately lead to their death.

Diagnosing fecal impaction in nursing home residents

A nursing home resident may receive a diagnosis of fecal impaction after a physical examination. The symptoms and complaints of the resident that may lead to the examination and subsequent diagnosis include:

  • Unusual sounds from the intestinal area
  • Abdominal distention
  • Fever and tachycardia
  • Presence of blood during a rectal examination

Doctors also conduct specific tests to determine the presence of impacted bowel. These include CT scans, x-rays, blood tests, and ultrasonography. Physicians who work at nursing homes and suspect that a resident is suffering from fecal impaction must act to perform these tests promptly. If the nursing staff suspects this condition exists, they must notify the doctor immediately as well. A fecal impaction diagnosis often requires emergency surgery to alleviate the issue. The patient undergoing such surgery will receive IV antibiotics and may continue to receive them for some time after surgery.

The timeframe in which the diagnosis and treatment of fecal impaction takes place is crucial. Left untreated, this condition is most certain to lead to death.

When a South Carolina nursing home resident suffers injury or death due to a delay or failure in diagnosis or treatment of fecal impaction, the nursing home may face a negligence lawsuit from the family. The death of the patient may justify the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit.

What are the causes of fecal impaction?

Fecal obstruction can develop for various reasons, including those involving medications, diet, and sedentary living. For patients who are able to move around, exercise can help prevent the condition. Additionally, drinking plenty of water and eating sound nutritional meals can minimize the chances of fecal impaction. However, some patients confined to their beds are required to take medications that may increase the chances of experiencing an obstructed bowel.

Common causes of fecal impaction include:

  • Excessive use of medicines to treat diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Sedentary lifestyle with lack of exercise
  • Using narcotic pain relievers
  • Nervous disorders that negatively affect the intestines

If a condition of fecal impaction is diagnosed and addressed in a prompt manner, the patient almost always has a positive prognosis for recovery. Many times, the blockage can be removed either manually, or through the use of enemas or laxatives. After the blockage is removed, the person’s diet and routine are often changed in order to prevent future occurrences.

When is an obstructed bowel a result of nursing home negligence?

Negligence issues involving inattentiveness and understaffing can lead to nursing home patients becoming susceptible to the condition of fecal impaction. It is the responsibility of nursing homes and their resident caretakers to provide proper hydration and nutrition to residents in order to help them avoid having constipation issues. The bowel movements of residents should be monitored in terms of their consistency, quantity, and timing.

If left untreated, undiagnosed fecal impactions can lead to infection, and in some of the worst cases blood poisoning or sepsis. When a nursing home fails to provide nutrition, hydration and monitoring for its residents, and the results lead to health problems such as fecal obstruction, these failures demonstrate negligence. If the nursing home has failed your loved one who, as a result, is suffering or has suffered from an impacted bowel condition, you may have a strong case to file a nursing home negligence lawsuit.

If your loved one sustained an injury in a nursing home, we want to help

If nursing home care staff has failed to diagnose or treat your loved one for a condition of fecal impaction that has resulted in unnecessary pain and suffering and other medical difficulties, you may be entitled to obtain compensation. At McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, you can count on an experienced South Carolina nursing home neglect and abuse lawyer like Johnny Felder to hold responsible the nursing home facility that has failed to provide proper care for your loved one. Please call us today at 803-327-7800 or simply complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation. We maintain offices in Anderson, Charleston, Columbia, Georgetown, Rock Hill, and Sumter for your convenience.

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