According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you have a case of diarrhea that lasts a day or more, there is better than a one in three chance that you have food poisoning. If you suspect food poisoning, it is vitally important to your health and that of others to determine the type of food poisoning and the most likely cause.
1. Seek Medical Attention
Most food poisonings result in only a few days of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, and dehydration, but recent studies have linked food poisoning to a variety of serious health effects. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Nothing is more important than your health and early testing is more likely to determine the type of food poisoning you have.
2. Chart Your Intake
If possible, make notes of everything you ate or drank for five days before your symptoms appeared, include the names of anyone else who consumed the same items and whether any of them also became ill. This will help isolate the cause of your foodborne illness and may prevent others from contracting it. Do not assume that the last thing you ate made you sick. Symptoms of food poisoning can take several days to develop, so record the exact date and time of everything you consumed and when your symptoms began.
3. Insist On Testing For Foodborne Pathogens
Many hospitals and physicians will not routinely perform tests on blood or stool samples to definitively diagnose food poisoning because the treatment they render is the same as it would be for a variety of stomach ailments such as influenza, also known as the flu. They may also not want to become involved in a potential liability claim and generally diagnose your illness as gastroenteritis or gastritis, which simply means any kind of stomach upset. This results in an underreporting of foodborne illnesses and possibly a failure to prevent others from being sickened by the same food. It also makes it much more difficult to prove your case. Therefore, if you think you have food poisoning you should insist that stool and blood sample tests be performed, even if it’s at your own expense. These tests should be performed as early as possible , while the pathogens are concentrated in your system and before you begin taking antibiotics or other medications.
4. Properly Store Leftovers and Foreign Objects
If you have any leftovers from foods that you suspect caused your illness, they can be tested to determine the source of your illness. Keep them in a refrigerator in a well-sealed container that is appropriately marked. This should prevent contamination of other foods or inadvertent use, especially by children. Never give the remaining product or foreign object to a representative of the store, restaurant or manufacturer without consulting a lawyer first.
5. Keep All Proof Of Your Purchase
If possible, retrieve and retain your original receipt, canceled check, debit, and credit card records as proof of when and where the product was purchased. The product’s packaging or container is also a very important item to keep because it may contain codes which help to trace the product and possibly identify the problem which led to your illness. Store or restaurant security video may also verify your purchase, or at least your presence at a given time. Although these may not be made available to you, a request can be made to preserve them.
6. Contact the Store or Restaurant and Your Local Health Department
Don’t just call the restaurant or store where you purchased the suspect food. They will not always inform you of other similar complaints, as they may not deem it to be in their best interests to do so. It is, however, important to let them know of a problem which could cause illness to others. Do not give written or recorded statements without consulting a lawyer. Be sure to call the Health Department. They will inform you of other incidents like yours and may conduct an investigation or inspection of the restaurant or store, which will help prove your claim and prevent the illness of others.
7. Record A Journal Of Your Illness
Recording the exact date, time, duration and severity of your symptoms will help determine the most likely cause of your illness, based upon the length of time it takes for the various types of food poisoning to generate symptoms. In this regard, accuracy is extremely important. Also, keep track of how your symptoms progress for purposes of diagnosis and treatment. This will also help refresh your memory of these events, if you are required to give a statement or testify.
8. Document Your Losses
Maintain a file including all of your medical and prescription charges and receipts, payments by insurance, wage loss and other expenses incurred due to your illness. It is also important to note all of your doctor visits, hospitalizations, and medical tests, as well as all of the ways your life, and that of your spouse, was affected due to your illness. This will assist your attorney in obtaining a fair settlement on your behalf.
Call for a Free Consultation
Contact our office today if you suspect that you have suffered from food poisoning. We will give you an honest assessment of your case and help you understand your legal options. There are no fees or costs unless we obtain a settlement or recovery for you. You can reach us by phone at 727-323-4533, toll-free at 866-FALDOWN (866-325-3696) or via e-mail.