Pregnancy is an intricate process that affects the body of the mother as well as the developing fetus. A fetus can only survive inside the uterus. Ectopic (or tubal) pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. When the embryo starts to grow in an ectopic pregnancy, it has no room to do so, which can have devastating effects on the mother. Doctors managing the care of women in their childbearing years must be prepared to screen for ectopic pregnancy. The stakes are simply too high.
Ectopic Pregnancy and Medical Malpractice
If an embryo fails to implant inside the uterus, it will sometimes begin to develop in an area where it has no room to grow, such as a fallopian tube. If an ectopic pregnancy is not diagnosed, it can lead to:
- Tubal or uterine rupture;
- Internal bleeding (hemorrhage);
Ectopic pregnancy is, unfortunately, fairly common, with over 100,000 cases occurring annually in the United States. It kills 1 in every 2,000 women who experience it and is the leading cause of death for women in the first trimester of pregnancy. Countless others suffer from ruptured tubes, invasive surgeries and lifelong infertility.
Ectopic Pregnancy Diagnosis CANNOT be delayed
Any woman of childbearing age who visits a doctor or an ER complaining of pelvic or shoulder pain, vaginal bleeding or spotting, or pelvic tenderness should be evaluated for ectopic pregnancy. The doctor needs to perform a pregnancy test and a follow up ultrasound to rule out ectopic pregnancy. When diagnosed early, ectopic pregnancy can be managed medically with significantly less complications for the woman. If a doctor fails to run the necessary tests to rule out ectopic pregnancy and simply sends the woman home, the embryo will continue to grow outside the uterus. This places the woman at a much higher risk for serious complications. The stakes are much too high to allow a woman to go unscreened.
Ectopic Pregnancy Risks and Management
In many cases, ectopic pregnancies happen for no reason. But there are factors that put a woman at higher risk for developing an ectopic pregnancy, requiring more careful management. Women with these risk factors and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy should be screened even more carefully. Failure to do so can result in a delay in diagnosis and treatment of this dangerous, emergent condition. Risk factors for ectopic pregnancy include:
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID);
- Previous ectopic pregnancy;
- Use of assisted reproductive technology, such as IVF;
- Use of intrauterine device (IUD);
- Previous tubal surgery.
Was the Diagnosis of Your Ectopic Pregnancy Missed or Delayed?
In order to diagnose ectopic pregnancy in time, a doctor must have a high degree of suspicion and order appropriate tests. If the doctor failed to do so – and you suffered serious complications as a result – please know that these complications were likely preventable and that the medical care you received may have been inadequate and negligent.If you have suffered loss or injury following an ectopic pregnancy due to medical malpractice, please call our experienced New York-based malpractice attorneys at 516-806-6343, or use our online contact form. We will fight for you!