I Think I Have Food Poisoning. What Should I Do?

I ate a local restaurant last night and about three hours later I began developing severe nausea, bad stomach cramps and diarrhea.   I was up all night.  I don’t feel any better this morning.  I think I may have food poisoning.  What do I do?

It is possible that you simple case of the flu, and if you have recently come into contact with others in your family or at work who have that condition that may be the explanation for your problems.  It is also possible that you have some other medical condition that is causing these problems.

Then again, you may have food poisoning.  It is estimated  that 76 million foodborne illness cases occur in the United States every year after eating foods contaminated with such pathogens as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter, Shigella, Norovirus, and Listeria.  Each year approximately 325,000 people are hospitalized with a diagnosis of food poisoning, and some 5,000 die.  

You should contact your doctor and carefully explain all of your symptoms and indicate what you ate the night before and where you ate it.  You or a family member should also call the restaurant, explain the nature of your problem, tell them what you ate and when you ate it, and ask if anyone else has reported being sick.  You should also ask your doctor to do a test on a stool sample to determine if any bacteria are present that can cause a food-borne illness.

If you suspect food poisoning as the cause of the problem, or if the doctor tells you that it is, you should contact your local health department and report that problem.  The health department should immediately inspect the restaurant.  This will reduce the likelihood that additional  people will suffer  the same problems you developed.

If you develop food poisoning and you incur any more than minor medical bills, loss of injury, or any type of ongoing injury, you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to investigate the case and determine if you have a claim.  

We have handled several of these cases over the years and also would share this advice with you.  If you brought a "doggie bag" from the restaurant save it in the refrigerator and give it to your lawyer.  If the food that made you sick was from a can, bottle or box, save the remaining contents.  Do not alter them in any way.  These items could be important evidence in your case.