UNITED STATES—There is nothing like the joy a couple feels when they are expecting a baby. However, this joy can quickly turn to despair for expectant parents who receive news of a problem with their pregnancy. This is especially true when the problem is an ectopic pregnancy, as there is no cure and no way to save the fetus.
Problems with pregnancy can increase in danger when a doctor misdiagnoses an ectopic pregnancy. In addition to this, a normal pregnancy may be terminated after a misdiagnosis of ectopic pregnancy. Keep scrolling to learn more about what you can expect from this type of medical malpractice.
Ectopic is the term used to refer to a pregnancy in which a fertilized egg fails to escape the fallopian tube. An egg that does not make its way into the mother’s womb may continue to develop and cause problems inside the fallopian tube.
While the fallopian tube is the most likely location for an ectopic pregnancy, other possible locations include:
- An ovary
- The cervix
- The abdomen
- A leftover scar from a past C-section
Approximately one in 50 pregnancies are ectopic. The discovery of this birth complication happens in the first eight weeks of pregnancy in most cases. An egg that does not make it to the womb may continue to grow, but it will not survive. This continued growth can push away internal organs and become a source of pain for the woman. More complications are possible if the tube ruptures.
Importance of Proper Diagnosis
More dangerous consequences await women who experience ectopic pregnancy if the problem goes untreated. Early diagnosis and management of an ectopic pregnancy will likely preserve the mother’s health and prevent future issues regarding fertility. Without proper treatment, severe pain, permanent health conditions, and a threat to the mother’s life become possible.
Ectopic Pregnancy Misdiagnosis
The screening process for ectopic pregnancies is much more intensive today than in past years. When symptoms suggest the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, a doctor will order an ultrasound to either confirm or dismiss this possibility.
The problem with the ectopic pregnancy diagnosis process is that no specific symptoms exist to identify the condition. The most common symptom, abdominal pain, is a possible indicator for numerous illnesses. Vaginal bleeding and elevated hormone levels are among the other factors that can cause a doctor to order an ultrasound.
Consequences of Misdiagnosis
The fallopian tube will rupture within the first few months of an ectopic pregnancy when left untreated. Extreme situations can result in life-threatening internal bleeding.
A late or misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy can also lead to surgery. And though the surgery is relatively safe, it is important to remember two major points about the procedure. First, there is an inherent risk involved with all surgical procedures. Secondly, the surgery only becomes possible in the absence of an accurate and timely diagnosis.
Ectopic Pregnancy Lawsuits
The difficulty in diagnosing ectopic pregnancies does not decrease the responsibility of a doctor to do so. Doctors who misdiagnose an ectopic pregnancy are guilty of negligence. And a patient injured because of negligence can take legal action to secure proper compensation.
A malpractice lawsuit applies to an ectopic pregnancy misdiagnosis whenever one of the following circumstances become involved.
- Your doctor failed to diagnose you with an ectopic pregnancy despite the presence of symptoms consistent with the condition.
- No testing was done in response to your symptoms.
- No further testing takes place after an ultrasound fails to reveal a fetus growing in the uterus.
- A doctor diagnosed you with an ectopic pregnancy but failed to provide adequate treatment.
Parents who learn of an ectopic pregnancy are often devastated by the news. In addition to losing the baby they expected, there is the threat of life-changing medical issues for the mother. This danger is worse when the doctor responsible for the mother’s care does not deliver a correct diagnosis of the problem in a timely fashion.
Speaking with an attorney is the best way to know if a malpractice lawsuit is an option in your particular case. If your pregnancy was misdiagnosed as ectopic or your ectopic pregnancy was missed, a lawyer can go over your options with you.