When doctors fail to abide by the standards of medical care that their positions demand, your health and well-being can suffer, and your legal rights may be seriously violated. Here, we discuss misdiagnosed pregnancy and the dangers of doctor negligence. We cover what can happen if your doctor fails to diagnose a pregnancy, or misdiagnoses a complicated pregnancy, like ectopic or molar pregnancies.
Failure to Diagnose Pregnancy
If your doctor fails to perform adequate testing, you may be pregnant without even realizing it. This situation can have a profound impact on your life, and can result in a variety of complications and unfortunate events. Consider the following situations that may constitute medical malpractice or medical negligence:
- Misdiagnosed pregnancy symptoms resulting in treatment that may be unsafe for your baby
- Failure to adequately read test results
- Failure to properly follow up on test results
- Surgery as a result of misdiagnosis
Any of these failings can result in dangerous consequences for you and your baby. Pregnancy is a very delicate time for your body, and you rely on your doctor to make sure that you and your baby are safe and healthy.
Misdiagnosis of Complicated Pregnancy
Another situation that may constitute medical malpractice is misdiagnosis of a complicated pregnancy, such as an ectopic or molar pregnancy:
- Ectopic Pregnancy – Occurs when the egg is fertilized but implants outside of the uterus. Implantation may occur in the fallopian tubes, on the cervix or an ovary, or elsewhere in the abdomen. Diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy requires a review of symptoms, an ultrasound, and bloodwork. Misdiagnosis can result in the following:
- Organ damage
- Severely low blood pressure
- Ruptured fallopian tubes
- Molar Pregnancy – Also called hydatidiform mole, a molar pregnancy occurs when a tumor develops in the uterus instead of a fetus. The tumor can present symptoms much like those of pregnancy, but there is no embryo. There are two primary manifestations of molar pregnancy, which are:
- Partial molar pregnancy – Occurs when an egg is fertilized by two sperm, resulting in the placenta becoming a tumor unto itself. Some partial molar pregnancies lead to the growth of a fetus, but most have severe defects or do not survive pregnancy.
- Complete molar pregnancy – Occurs when the egg is fertilized, but contains no genetic material. In this case, the egg cannot grow into a fetus. Instead, the sperm continues to grow itself, becoming a tumor and filling the uterus in much the same way that a normal pregnancy would.
Risks of Misdiagnosed Pregnancy
Generally, if your doctor follows proper prenatal care guidelines, diagnosing and treating complicated pregnancies can be done in a routine manner without risk of serious injury or spontaneous termination of the pregnancy.
If, however, your doctor fails to follow proper medical standards, the result may be catastrophic for your family. Misdiagnosed pregnancy may result in the following:
- Birth injuries to the fetus
- Misdiagnosis resulting in preventable defects
- Termination of an otherwise viable pregnancy
- Permanent damage to the organs
- Maternal death
Anytime you have symptoms that may indicate pregnancy, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible. If he or she does not perform tests, or does not follow up with you, you may find it beneficial to get a second opinion.
If you have been injured, suffered the loss of a child, or experienced other harm due to your doctor failing to diagnose, or misdiagnosing a pregnancy, you may find it beneficial to also seek the guidance of a medical malpractice or birth injury attorney.
Misdiagnosed Pregnancy and Your Rights
You have the right to quality medical care that follows certain standards of care. If your doctor deviates from those standards and you are injured as a result, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice or birth injury lawsuit against that doctor. The type of case you are able to file, as well as the amount of damages you can pursue depends on the facts of your case.
Medical malpractice and birth injury cases allow you to pursue damages for your injuries and losses, including:
- Pain, suffering, or emotional distress
- Medical expenses
- Other healthcare costs arising from your injuries or related conditions
- Lost wages or employment
- Permanent disability
- Loss of consortium (companionship or enjoyment)
Your ability to seek any of these damages, or others not listed, will depend on your case. A medical malpractice or birth injury attorney can help you determine what damages you can pursue.
Getting Help after a Misdiagnosed Pregnancy
Once you have determined that you want to pursue a medical malpractice or birth injury case, the next step is finding an attorney you can trust to manage your case. Filing a lawsuit is often a lengthy, emotional experience, so it is important that your chosen attorney is someone you feel comfortable with, and confident in, to guide you through the lawsuit process.
The lawsuit process entails several independent processes, and may vary slightly depending on your state. In general, you can expect the following in the lawsuit process:
- Gathering evidence (medical records, billing statements, insurance claims, witness information)
- Interviewing witnesses (doctors, nurses, medical staff, family members, friends, etc.)
- Expert witness testimony
- Researching applicable standards and laws
- Filing legal documents (interrogatories, motions, appeals, etc.)
- Negotiation (if a settlement is proposed)
- Trial before a judge and jury
If you have questions about filing a medical malpractice or birth injury lawsuit, or want to learn more about your legal rights, please contact us for a no-obligation case review.