Jake Tapper is one of the most recognizable names in journalism today, but his 15-year-old daughter Alice just made her debut in the industry with a bang. Alice wrote an op-ed about her frightening experience with medical misdiagnosis, and it was published by CNN last month. As harrowing as her own experience was, Alice reported that many other people have come out worse than her from the same misdiagnosis.
Alice began her article with her own story, which started in November of 2021. After struggling for a few days with a handful of feverish symptoms and gastrointestinal pain, Alice went to the emergency room on a Sunday night. She said that doctors at two separate hospitals diagnosed her with a viral infection and claimed that it would pass on its own. She felt that they were ignoring her descriptions of acute pain, and they also turned down her requests for sonograms and x-rays that could have tested for appendicitis.
"I felt helpless," she wrote. "My condition wasn't the only thing that alarmed me; so did the lack of recognition I received from the hospital. I was not being heard; when I described to the doctors how much pain I was in, they responded with condescending looks."
After at least a couple of days passed like this, Alice's father, CNN anchor Jake Tapper, called the hospital administrator to beg for more thorough tests. Alice believes this is what finally prompted the doctors to look closer, and an x-ray immediately revealed that she was suffering from a perforated appendix. This is a condition demanding swift and timely treatment, so the days she spent in the hospital accepting IV fluids and over-the-counter pain medication were dangerous.
Alice was rushed into surgery within hours and then spent over a week in the hospital recovering. Her personal story comprised only about half of her op-ed, however. The rest mused the medical industry itself and why certain patients might be misdiagnosed or not taken seriously by doctors. Even sticking to specific situations similar to her own, the data seemed damning – she cited research showing that up to 15 percent of appendicitis cases are missed when children are first hospitalized, despite the fact that it is the most common surgical emergency in children.
Alice cited another article that found that, in general, girls are less likely to be listened to and taken seriously by doctors than boys, implying a pattern of sexism in this area. However, she kept her call to action specific, writing: "Hospitals need to change the way they assess and diagnose appendicitis because it can frequently present in atypical ways." She shared other stories of misdiagnoses like hers, including one that had a tragic, fatal ending. She concluded: "I still can't believe this happened to me – and I don't want it to happen to anyone else."