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|Medical Malpractice
Last Updated: December 14, 2021

Millions of women give birth to healthy babies every year in the United States. Their pregnancies progress in a normal way. However, approximately two percent of fertilized eggs never make it to the safety of the mother’s uterus. Sometimes a fertilized egg begins to grow in other areas. When a fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube instead of the mother’s womb, it is classified as an ectopic pregnancy. The fetus will not receive adequate nourishment and lacks space to grow in this environment. In fact, the fallopian tube may burst, putting the mother’s life in danger. To sum up, ectopic pregnancies are rare and possibly life threatening conditions.

Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancies

Diagram comparing a normal pregnancy and an ectopic pregnancy in a possible medical malpractice case. The ectopic pregnancy shows a fetus outside the womb.

An ectopic pregnancy takes place at the beginning of the pregnancy. However, the symptoms may not begin until four to six weeks after conception. Common symptoms may include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Feeling faint
  • Fainting spells
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Painful bowel movements

OB/GYN Responsibilities

When a pregnant woman presents with the above symptoms, a responsible, dedicated doctor must order specific tests to rule out, or confirm an ectopic pregnancy. First of all, a blood test is performed to check for the pregnancy hormone hCG. Next, an ultrasound will determine where the fertilized egg is located. If tests confirm a tubal pregnancy, there are a few options. The choices are based on the length of the pregnancy. Early in a pregnancy medication may be administered and the patient is closely monitored. If the ectopic pregnancy is not discovered until later in the pregnancy, surgery becomes necessary. In this situation, there are two possibilities:

  • Salpingotomy- The pregnancy is removed. The fallopian tube remains.
  • Salpingectomomy- The pregnancy is removed. The fallopian tube is removed.

Each surgery must be performed before the tube ruptures. Once the tube ruptures, the woman’s life is in danger due to blood loss. It would be too dangerous to perform surgery at that time.  So, this life threatening condition must be prevented with adequate testing.

Ectopic Pregnancy Lawsuits

Doctors have a responsibility to listen to their patients and order appropriate tests based on symptoms. It’s important to note that medical professionals must order tests in a timely manner. In regards to ectopic pregnancies, the symptoms may mimic other medical issues. Regardless. OB/GYN doctors must rule out a tubal pregnancy if the symptoms match the diagnosis. Of course, every patient with an ectopic pregnancy may not have a lawsuit. However, there are circumstances that may warrant one. Here are some situations where a lawsuit may apply:

  • Your doctor failed to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy and your fallopian tube ruptured.
  • The ultrasound showed an ectopic pregnancy and your doctor sent you home with no further treatment.
  • The ultrasound did not show a fetus in your uterus and your blood work confirmed pregnancy. If your doctor did no further tests and your tube burst, that’s negligence.
  • The doctor delays treatment when an ectopic pregnancy is confirmed and this delay leads to complications.
  • There are complications from the surgery.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer Responsibilities

A medical malpractice attorney examines healthcare cases to determine if negligence played a part in a patient’s care. Ectopic pregnancies have sad outcomes and some are the result of medical malpractice. An experienced lawyer needs to show that other OBGYN doctors in the same situation would have handled the situation differently. Your attorney does this by bringing in medical experts and examining the evidence in your case. So, if you or someone you know experienced this devastating loss or another form of birth injury, and you suspect medical negligence, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

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