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Ectopic Pregnancy And Medical Negligence

Ectopic Pregnancy And Medical Negligence

Ectopic pregnancies are unfortunately a common occurrence, with records showing there are over 11,000 cases in the UK every year. While most women make a full recovery, sadly there are instances in which ectopic pregnancies are misdiagnosed or badly treated, causing serious complications. If this has happened to you or a loved one, you should contact a medical negligence solicitor to discuss your options.

What Is An Ectopic Pregnancy?

In a normal pregnancy, the egg is fertilised by the sperm in the fallopian tube before moving into the womb. Once in the womb, the fertilised egg implants itself into the uterus lining where it then begins to grow and develop.

In an ectopic pregnancy, however, the fertilised egg does not reach the lining of the womb, and instead becomes implanted in the fallopian tube. This is fatal for the fertilised egg: there is no way it can be moved into the womb, and so ectopic pregnancies must be terminated.

If an ectopic pregnancy is not terminated then the fertilised egg will continue to grow in the fallopian tube. This in turn can lead to serious complications for the mother, as the fallopian tube will eventually rupture.

Symptoms Of An Ectopic Pregnancy

Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include the following:-

  • One-sided abdominal pain;
  • Vaginal bleeding;
  • Shoulder pain;
  • Pain when visiting the toilet;
  • Diahorrea and vomiting;
  • Light-headed and faint;
  • Increased heart rate.

Diagnosis and Treatment Of An Ectopic Pregnancy

Diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy can be achieved with a collaboration of tests. Firstly, if you are experiencing the symptoms described above but you are not known to be expecting a child, then the first port of call is to establish whether or not you are pregnant.

If the test is positive and you are still displaying symptoms, then medical professionals may perform a vaginal ultrasound. This involves a small probe inserted into the vagina which will relay images of the womb and fallopian tubes. Furthermore, doctors may order blood samples to be taken to test hormone levels, which will be lower in women whose pregnancy is ectopic. If a concrete diagnosis still has not been made by this stage, then it may be necessary to carry out a laparoscopy, a direct examination of the womb through a viewing tube.

If diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy, then treatment should be given immediately. The type of treatment will depend upon how far advanced the pregnancy is. If caught early enough, then an ectopic pregnancy can be treated with a medication called Methotrexate. This will stop the embryo growing, and is given via an injection.

Otherwise, an ectopic pregnancy must be treated with surgery. This will remove the embryo from the fallopian tube, and if there has been damage to the fallopian tube itself then this may also need to be removed.

Possible Complications Of An Ectopic Pregnancy

If an ectopic pregnancy is diagnosed swiftly, then most women will make a full recovery without any further complications. Additionally, it is likely that successful pregnancy will still be possible in the future, as about 60% of women who have had an ectopic pregnancy go on to conceive naturally.

However, if medical staff do not identify an ectopic pregnancy or fail to provide the correct treatment, then a woman can face serious complications. In particular, an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy will potentially lead to a ruptured fallopian tube, which can cause:-

  • Internal bleeding;
  • Shock (a dangerous drop in blood pressure);
  • Infertility;
  • Death.

If you or a loved one has been affected by an ectopic pregnancy that went undiagnosed or was not treated properly, then you should seek legal advice. It may be that the care you received was negligent, and you might be able to claim compensation for your pain and suffering.

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Early legal assistance can be vital so please contact us if you would like to discuss your situation. Please call us free on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile 01275 334030) or complete our Online Enquiry Form.

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