Homepage > Post-Infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in Legal Cases
April 5, 2021
Posted by: OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers
Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome (Post-infectious IBS or PI-IBS) is a relatively common complication that can occur after a bout of food poisoning from Salmonella, Cyclospora, E. coli, or other pathogens.
If you suffer from conditions associated with food poisoning, contact OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers at (888) 828-0787. We will evaluate your case and help you decide what to do next.
Symptoms of post-infectious IBS include: recurrent abdominal pain associated with defecation (bowel movements), a change in the frequency of stool, or a change in the form (appearance) of stool. Typically, IBS causes either constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of the two. Post-infectious IBS symptoms typically begin “immediately after resolution of acute infectious gastroenteritis.”
The term “acute infectious gastroenteritis” would include most types of food poisoning. Bacterial illnesses are more likely to cause post-infectious IBS than viral illnesses. The incidence of post-infectious IBS following outbreaks of enteric disease is thought to range from 4-32% of those sickened. Research has demonstrated that protozoan parasites (like Cyclospora) likely also cause post-infectious IBS.
According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, PI-IBS is potentially caused by “a delay in turning off the normal inflammatory response after an initial infection,” causing subtle inflammatory changes that are “not routinely detectable.” “Changes in nerves lining the gut may also be an important factor,” causing injury to “the nerves responsible for gut motility and sensation,” potentially resulting in altered bowel movements and awareness of GI pain. Though similar in some respects, post-infectious IBS has been distinguished by doctors from other “functional” GI disorders like post-infectious gastropareisis or functional dyspepsia.
You might be wondering, if I am still sick from food poisoning, can I get compensated for my ongoing issues? The team at OFT Food Safety Lawyers has represented many individuals whose lives have been impacted long-term by post-infectious IBS. In general, if we can prove that your post-infectious IBS is related to outbreak-associated food poisoning, we can claim monetary amounts (“damages”) for medical treatment and pain and suffering.
There are three primary considerations related making a legal claim for post-infectious IBS:
First, it is important that individuals suffering from prolonged digestive changes get the medical care they need. Though we are lawyers and not doctors, getting our clients feeling better is our top priority. Additionally, having medical records that reflect continued gastrointestinal symptoms can help our lawyers demonstrate the connection between an acute illness and longer-term impairment.
Second, OFT Food Safety Lawyers regularly work with medical doctors as experts. Doctors can provide critical opinion testimony that can help lawyers prove that ongoing GI issues are related to an outbreak illness. These opinions are often provided in the form of expert narratives or reports, which can explain to defense lawyers, insurance companies, and even juries, just how an acute illness can cause months or even years of gastrointestinal discomfort.
Third, it is important to have an idea of your long-term health prior to resolving a legal claim. Once a case is settled and a release is signed, you cannot go back to the well and ask for more money—so you have to have some idea what the future might hold before resolving or resolving a case. When we can prove that a client’s IBS is related to their outbreak illness, we can often claim what are called “future damages,” meaning compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering that are reasonably likely to occur in the future. In addition to gastroenterologists, the OFT team has worked with life care planners to help calculate the cost of future medical care.
When cases with post-infectious IBS are presented properly—with supporting medical records, an expert report, and potentially a life care plan—they often merit greater recoveries than cases where a person was ill for only a few weeks. If you were sickened and continue to struggle with post-infectious IBS, reach out to the team at OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers today.
Call us at (888) 828-0787 for a free consultation.