Proper Food Poisoning Diagnosis & Treatment
For prompt, effective medical treatment, it is crucial to properly diagnose specific foodborne illnesses as soon as possible. It is also important to document food poisoning diagnoses for legal reasons as well. To build evidence against a negligent restaurant or food handler, a victim of food poisoning needs to prove that the pathogen (bacteria, virus or parasite) is linked to a particular kitchen or food distributor.
Food poisoning is usually diagnosed with lab tests, and based on a detailed history, including how long a patient has been sick, symptoms and specific foods recently consumed. Medical professionals should perform a physical exam, and look for signs of dehydration.
Diagnostic tests ordered by doctors can include a blood test, urine test, stool culture or examination for parasites. For a stool culture, a stool sample is sent to a laboratory to identify the pathogen causing an illness. Bacteria have DNA patterns identified with pulsed-field gel electrophoreses (PFGE) and whole gene sequencing.
Once there is medical evidence on the side of a plaintiff, a personal injury attorney can advise on how to proceed against the negligent party that caused the illness. If an organism is found, doctors are urged to notify local health departments to determine if the food poisoning is linked to a wider outbreak. If you have any questions about the important lab testing or legal procedure, contact The Lyon Firm for information.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati, Ohio personal injury attorney with experience in injuries due to food poisoning. The Lyon Firm has represented plaintiffs nationwide in foodborne illness claims.
Signs & Symptoms of Food Poisoning
Food poisoning symptoms can present within hours of eating contaminated food or water, and most often include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Signs and symptoms may begin days or even weeks after eating. Illnesses caused by food poisoning generally last a few hours to several days. Food poisoning is usually mild and resolves without treatment but in serious cases permanent injuries can be sustained and fatalities can result.
Food poisoning symptoms vary with the source of contamination but almost all food poisoning cases include the following signs and symptoms:
- Watery or bloody diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and cramping
Common Causes of Food Poisoning
- Campylobacter—symptoms arise in 2 to 5 days—caused by infected meat and poultry. Contamination occurs during processing if animal feces makes contact with meat.
- Clostridium botulinum—presents in 12 to 72 hours—caused by improperly canned commercial foods, smoked or salted fish, potatoes baked in aluminum foil, or foods kept at warm temperatures for too long.
- Clostridium perfringens—presents in 8 to 16 hours—caused by infected meats, stews and gravies. Commonly spread when serving dishes don’t keep food hot enough.
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)—presents in 1 to 8 days—caused by beef contaminated with feces during slaughter. Spread mainly by undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized milk, apple cider, alfalfa sprouts, and contaminated water.
- Giardia lamblia—presents in 1 to 2 weeks—caused by raw produce and contaminated water.
- Hepatitis A—presents within 28 days—caused by raw produce and shellfish from contaminated water. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
- Listeria—presents in 9 to 48 hours—caused by infected hot dogs, luncheon meats, unpasteurized milk and cheeses, and unwashed raw produce.
- Noroviruses—presents in 12 to 48 hours—carried in raw produce and shellfish from contaminated water. May be spread by an infected food handler.
- Rotavirus—presents in1 to 3 days—caused by raw produce. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
- Salmonella—presents in 1 to 3 days—caused by raw or contaminated meat, poultry, milk, or egg yolks.
- Shigella—presents in 24 to 48 hours—caused by infected seafood and raw produce. Can be spread by an infected food handler.
- Staphylococcus aureus—presents in 1 to 6 hours—caused by meats, dairy products and prepared salads. Can be spread by hand contact, coughing and sneezing.
- Vibrio—presents in 1 to 7 days—spread by raw oysters and undercooked mussels, clams, and whole scallops.
Food Poisoning Treatment
Specific treatment for food poisoning depends on the severity and the source of the illness, if known. For most people, the illness resolves without treatment within a few days, though some types of food poisoning can last much longer. Treatment of food poisoning may include:
- Rehydration/replacement of fluids and electrolytes—minerals that maintain the balance of fluids in your body are lost in persistent diarrhea and need to be replaced. Some patients with severe diarrhea or vomiting may need hospitalization, where they can receive intravenous salts and fluids to treat dehydration.
- Antibiotics—doctors prescribe antibiotics with certain kinds of bacterial food poisoning. As a general rule, the sooner the treatment begins, the better the results. However, antibiotics may actually worsen symptoms in certain kinds of viral or bacterial food poisoning so it is crucial to identify the affecting pathogen first.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a foodborne infection, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.