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Failure To Diagnose Preeclampsia

Deciding to bring a child into the world can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a person's life. Pregnancy comes with many risks for mother and baby and sometimes things don't go as planned. Among other things, healthcare professionals warn about specific pregnancy complications that can arise after the 20th week of pregnancy, including preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a serious complication that can occur during the middle or latter stages of pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a medical condition affecting the expectant mother. A rapid rise in blood pressure characterizes preeclampsia.

If you believe that you have suffered from preeclampsia complications that should have been caught and treated by a physician, resulting in injuries or death, consider speaking with a personal injury attorney. They will review your case, hire medical experts to examine your medical records, and determine if you have been the victim of any form of medical malpractice. If so, they will file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf. Their legal team will explain your range of legal options.

Continue reading for a general overview of preeclampsia, risk factors, and possible legal theories under which you can file a lawsuit.

Preeclampsia Overview

According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, preeclampsia and other hypertensive disorders of pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death worldwide.

Healthcare professionals usually diagnose preeclampsia during routine blood pressure checks at prenatal appointments. Two blood pressure readings higher than 140/90, taken at least four hours apart, can indicate this condition.

A doctor should closely monitor the mother's health for possible preeclampsia. They can perform several blood, urine, or ultrasound tests to get an accurate diagnosis.

If a physician fails to recognize or treat the symptoms properly, it can result in significant problems for the mother and her baby. The doctor may then be liable for medical negligence or malpractice.

Risk Factors for Preeclampsia

Several risk factors make certain women more susceptible to preeclampsia than others. These risk factors include the following:

  • Being under 20 or over 40 years old at the time of pregnancy
  • First pregnancy
  • Multiple fetuses (twins, triples, etc.)
  • History of certain conditions, examples (i.e., chronic high blood pressure, migraine headaches, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, a tendency to develop blood clots, and lupus)
  • Family history of preeclampsia
  • Obesity

Any such risk factors put someone at a higher risk of developing or having preeclampsia.

Birth Injury as a Result of Preeclampsia

Unlike what occurs during normal pregnancies, preeclampsia can cause fetal distress, which can include growth restrictions on the fetus. The condition may also cause hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy. HIE is a brain injury. It occurs when the baby's brain is deprived of oxygen or blood flow.

Preeclampsia can lead to:

  • Premature birth
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Multiple organ failure
  • Death (mother and baby)

Preeclampsia also increases the risk of placental abruption. This problem is caused by the placenta separating from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery and can result in severe bleeding. Placenta separation can be life-threatening for both the mother and the baby.

A condition known as HELLP syndrome may also occur in those suffering from preeclampsia. Many pregnant people are diagnosed with HELLP syndrome after they are diagnosed with preeclampsia.

Symptoms of this condition can include:

  • Nausea
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Headache
  • Swelling in various body parts

It also causes hemolysis, a condition characterized by elevated liver enzymes and low platelet counts. HELLP is a rare condition, but it can be lethal to both the mother and child.

Symptoms of Preeclampsia

The following can be signs of preeclampsia, and you should consult with your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms during your pregnancy:

  • Severe headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden swelling of various body parts, including the feet, ankles, face, and hands
  • Severe thrombocytopenia (a condition caused by a low platelet count and can manifest as bruising or even internal hemorrhaging, as well as it being much more challenging to stop the sufferer from bleeding after sustaining a cut)
  • Blurred vision or seeing flashes of light
  • Sudden weight gain
  • The sudden appearance of edema, which is swelling of body tissue
  • Abdominal pain occurring immediately below the ribs

To address any pregnancy complications, getting a correct diagnosis as early as possible is critical. Taking this action will increase the chances of a good outcome. Having a healthy baby is the ultimate reward for the hard work of pregnancy.

If pregnancy conditions are left undiagnosed, it can lead to serious complications. A delayed diagnosis, missed diagnosis, or incorrect diagnosis can necessitate additional medical care to address complications. Complications that arise from a wrong diagnosis or a medical error can include the death of the mother or the unborn baby.

Failure To Diagnose Case for Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia, which is revealed by test results, is a potentially life-threatening condition for both mother and baby. As a pregnancy complication, preeclampsia can result in birth injuries. As of this moment, there is no cure for this condition other than giving birth.

A physician can administer specific tests to the mother to diagnose the condition and monitor the patient's condition throughout the pregnancy cycle.

Despite a healthcare provider's best intentions, there are situations where a doctor fails to provide an accurate diagnosis for preeclampsia. If this has happened to you or someone you love, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Monetary damages are available when a patient can prove a misdiagnosis case.

Possible Causes of Action

Failure to diagnose and adequately manage preeclampsia can be grounds for a negligence claim. Moreover, if this negligence causes the baby to have a birth injury, it can be claimed as medical malpractice.

If the mother dies as a result of a failure to diagnose preeclampsia, the healthcare practitioner may be liable for a wrongful death action. If the fetus or child dies, the mother may also be able to sue for damages.

It's best to discuss the intricacies of these types of lawsuits and the possible monetary damages available by contacting an attorney.

An obstetrician or other healthcare professional who fails to deliver medical treatment meeting the required standard of care should be held accountable.

The failure to diagnose and properly treat preeclampsia falls within the scope of medical malpractice lawsuits. Handling preeclampsia-related medical malpractice cases is best left to medical malpractice lawyers.

Additional Resources

Consider reviewing the following resources for more information about preeclampsia:

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your preeclampsia case, you or your baby may be a victim of medical malpractice. This can occur based on a doctor's failure or diagnostic errors by any medical professional.

Connect With an Attorney About Your Situation

Have you or a loved one suffered an injury related to a failure to diagnose and treat preeclampsia or a misdiagnosis related to the condition? If so, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit. Damages can include payment for medical expenses and other applicable compensation.

An excellent first step in exploring legal options is connecting with a medical malpractice attorney. You can discuss whether grounds exist for legal action with them.

An attorney's legal advice is invaluable in navigating the fallout of preeclampsia or birth injuries. The statute of limitations allows a limited amount of time to bring a suit due to the statute of limitations in your state. Contact an attorney about your legal issue today.

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