Jake Tapper Says His Daughter ‘Almost Died’ From Appendicitis After Misdiagnosis

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Jake Tapper said Thursday that his 15-year-old daughter, Alice, “almost died” last year from appendicitis after she was misdiagnosed at the hospital.

The CNN anchor shared his family’s terrifying experience in a segment, noting that 7.4 million patients are misdiagnosed each year out of about 130 million annual emergency department visits, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I, unfortunately, know all too well about the cost of misdiagnosis,” he said. “About a year ago, my then-14-year-old daughter, Alice, almost died as a result.”

Tapper said that he was sharing Alice’s story because his daughter believed her experience could help others. “Her ordeal was entirely preventable,” he said.

The news anchor said that Alice became sick with appendicitis in November 2021, but hospital doctors misdiagnosed her condition.

“Ultimately, we learned that while they were treating her for a viral infection instead, her appendix had actually perforated,” Tapper said. “Toxic fluid was seeping out and poisoning her internal organs.”

“Her body started going into what’s called hypovolemic shock, meaning her heart was unable to pump enough blood to all of her organs, which causes organ failure,” he continued.

Alice said during the segment that she had pain all over her abdomen.

Appendicitis — which is the inflammation of the appendix — can lead to nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever, abdominal bloating, and sudden pain on the right side of the lower abdomen or around the navel that shifts to the lower-right of the abdomen, among other symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Alice wrote in an op-ed published on CNN Thursday that she went to the emergency room after experiencing stomach cramping, a low fever, chills and vomiting.

“By the time I got there, I had low blood pressure, an elevated heart rate, intense abdominal pain and a high white blood cell count,” she wrote.

Alice’s mother, Jennifer Tapper, said during the CNN segment that she pleaded with doctors to give Alice a sonogram to check for appendicitis — a recommendation by the teenager’s primary pediatrician — but was told: “That data’s not needed.”

The 15-year-old said that doctors ruled out appendicitis after asking her to do a “jump test.”

“I was asked to jump and I was able to maybe get one inch off the ground, and just that ruled out appendicitis for all the doctors,” she said. “And that’s when they just declared it was a viral infection.”

Alice wrote in her op-ed that her skin started turning pale green as her condition worsened and that she received “condescending looks” when she described her pain to doctors.

The teen said she got an X-ray and then an ultrasound in the middle of the night after her father called a hospital administrator. She then underwent emergency surgery.

“That night was the scariest night of my life,” she wrote, adding that she stayed at the hospital for another week before a long period of recovery at home.

Tapper said during Thursday’s segment that he recognized how his family’s unique privilege played a role in his daughter’s medical care.

“I’m a journalist, so I was able to get the number of the administrator, figure it out and they took the call and they took action,” he said. “But most people wouldn’t have been able to do that. We recognize we have this privilege.”

When asked about the lessons learned from the experience, Jennifer Tapper said, “This isn’t a time to be polite when you’re in the hospital.”

“You must defend your child ― and listening to parents is probably the most important thing doctors and hospitals can do,” she continued.


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