Misdiagnosed Ectopic Pregnancy...
After a positive home pregnancy test result I was experiencing abdominal pain and slight vaginal bleeding. I called an OB-GYN and was given an appointment for the next business day. The next day, Saturday, I went to the emergency room with increasing pain and bleeding.
After blood tests confirmed the positive pregnancy the hospital did an ultrasound. The ER doctor said that there was no conclusive embryonic evidence in the uterus, meaning it was:
1) too early in the pregnancy to detect, or
2) an ectopic pregnancy (because the ultrasound was vaginal and did not show the tubes), or
3) early signs of miscarriage.
I was told to contact the OB-GYN office for further care. Because the following Monday was a holiday, I saw the OB-GYN on Tuesday. The doctor told me it was probably a miscarriage and "that's life." When blood work confirmed a continuing pregnancy, the doctor told me to wait until Wednesday afternoon and go to the lab for more blood tests. I did that and when I called the doctor's office on Thursday they informed me that because the blood hormone levels were dropping I was experiencing a miscarriage.
When I told them that my bleeding had almost stopped, the nurse said that if the pain and bleeding had not intensified by Monday I should call them back. It did, and I felt that a painful time in my life was concluded. Three weeks later, I had such pain in my lower abdomen that I almost fainted.
I had someone collect me from work, went home and called my OB-GYN office and was transferred to the nurse's voice mail. I left a message and heard nothing for 3 hrs. I called again and asked to speak to someone who told me to come in right away. When I arrived, they did an ultrasound, and the nurse said, "I don't know what happened here 3 weeks ago, but you have an ectopic pregnancy, which just ruptured."
After being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery, I am now minus 1 fallopian tube. I think that with my symptoms, the OB-GYN should have followed up on my "miscarriage." If so this wouldn't have happened. Possibly they would have been able to terminate the pregnancy with drugs, and I would not have needed surgery.
Do you think I have a case? What can I do?
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ANSWER for "Misdiagnosed Ectopic Pregnancy...":
Anna (North Carolina):
Physicians, especially OB-GYNs, are held to a very high standard of care. To be dismissive of a patient’s queries can be a recipe for litigation. Before considering litigation you should do substantial research in the areas of ectopic pregnancies. You want to know all you can about what lawyers call the “But For” rule.
The "But For" rule basically means that to prevail in litigation you must be able to prove “by a preponderance of the evidence” that “but for the negligence of your physician" you would not have suffered a miscarriage. You also have to prove the loss of your fallopian tube was a direct, or at least an indirect result of your physician’s negligence.
Once you have all of your research completed, and believe the evidence supports your claim for medical malpractice you can think seriously about filing suit against the physician. If you do, you should be prepared for a vigorous defense. Physicians and their insurance companies are notorious for fighting back, and doing so with fervor.
Don't be discouraged. Realistically you will not be in a position to pursue litigation by yourself. This will certainly not be a Small Claims lawsuit. Most skilled Personal Injury Medical Malpractice attorneys will not charge a prospective client for an initial office consultation. You would be well-advised to seek the counsel of one of these skilled attorneys.
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,
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