Is Failure to Test the Urine of a Pregnant Female Prior to X-Rays Malpractice?

by Marisol
(Manassas, VA, USA)

I was in a car accident 4/25/11 and was taken to the hospital for evaluation. When I arrived at the hospital the nurse asked if I was pregnant. I told the nurse, "not to my knowledge." She then gave me a small cup and asked me to pee in the cup for the urine test and I placed it on the counter in the room I was in. The nurse never came back to get the sample.

A few minutes later, another nurse took me to get x-rays of the neck and CT scan. When I returned, my husband and I noticed that they still had not taken the urine sample for testing. I didn't think anything of it at the time. I was released from the hospital that night with no serious injuries.

Two days later, I was feeling a little different and took a pregnancy test. The test was positive! The next day I made an appointment with my doctor to confirm the pregnancy. My doctor confirmed that I was about 5 weeks pregnant. If the hospital had tested my urine sample, they could have told me that I was pregnant the day of the accident and the x-rays would not have be given to me. Now, I worry if the x-rays did anything to harm my unborn fetus. I thought about complaining to the hospital but I'm not sure that would do anything.

Is a hospital required to test a urine sample before performing any x-rays or CT scans on a female? Is there anything I can do about this situation? Thanks for any help you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Is Failure to Test the Urine of a Pregnant Female Prior to X-Rays Malpractice?":

Marisol:

Our research found the following:

In most hospitals the Admitting Nurse is required to go through a list of questions with anyone who is about to be admitted, including what medications the person is taking, any allergies, and more.

For females there is also a question asking if she is pregnant. If the female states she is not, then the hospital does not have a legal duty to take the blood or urine of a female and then test it for pregnancy. In the alternative, if a female is going to be admitted and she answers the pregnancy question “yes,” then in almost all cases x-rays should not be taken.

From the facts you present your answer to the question apparently was “not to my knowledge”. From a legal standpoint the hospital was correct in requesting a urinalysis to test for pregnancy. They failed miserably though by failing to follow through to see if you were indeed pregnant.

There is something you may want to consider. If you had reason to believe you were pregnant it would have been incumbent upon you to either refuse the x-rays, or at least tell the admitting nurse you were pregnant.

Because there is no proof of damage to your unborn child you do not presently have a meritorious claim against the hospital. If though after the delivery your child seems to have any problems you may have a very strong case against the hospital.

While we certainly hope you and your child will be alright, you do not have to worry about missing your opportunity to file suit against the hospital. In these types of cases the law provides that you have two years from the time of the incident to file a lawsuit.

We strongly suggest you request copies of your medical records, especially the ones related to your admittance into the hospital. That way you will have the information you will need in the unfortunate chance your child has any problems at birth.

Because these cases are referred to as Medical Malpractice cases and become quite expensive to pursue, we urge you to seek out a personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible to review your options with you. There are many Personal Injury Attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice cases and most will not charge you for an initial office consultation.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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