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Was My Miscarriage Caused by Medical Malpractice?

A OB/GYN conducts an ultrasound on pregnant woman to assess baby's health.

No amount of money can compensate for the loss of your unborn child. However, you can hold medical professionals accountable for their negligence and prevent the same fate from befalling other women.

1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. While many miscarriages occur as a result of nature taking its course and are not the fault of the mother or her medical team, there are times in which a woman’s healthcare provider could and should have prevented the miscarriage from occurring.

When Is Doctor Negligence Responsible for Miscarriage?

Sadly, some doctors fail to take appropriate precautions to protect the lives of mother and baby. In the event that a woman’s pregnancy is diagnosed as high risk, failure to adhere to appropriate standards of medical care can result in tragedy.

Unfortunately, there are preventable incidents of medical malpractice that can and should be handled accordingly under the law. Consider the following instances in which a physician might be negligently responsible for a miscarriage.

Failure to Diagnose Blood Clots

Blood clots are a very serious occurrence and can have fatal consequences on a person’s health regardless of pregnancy. Clotting in the brain, lungs, heart, and limbs can lead to stroke, blindness, heart attack, and sudden death.

As you can imagine, a blood clot can inflict serious harm on both mother and baby. Failure to treat blood clots swiftly and effectively is an act of medical negligence punishable by law, as such irresponsibility can easily lead to the death of the woman and her unborn child. The following factors can put you at risk of blood clots during pregnancy:

  • A genetic history of clotting disorders
  • Prolonged immobility during pregnancy
  • A prior C-section
  • Having twins or triplets
  • Being 35+ years old during pregnancy
  • Prolonged exposure to smoking during pregnancy
  • Being overweight or obese

For women who experience recurring miscarriages or blood clots, screenings for clotting disorders are an essential step for the health of the mother and baby for future pregnancies. Doctors should take care to screen mothers considered “high risk” for blood clotting disorders such as Factor V Leiden, hemophilia, and antiphospholipid syndrome (APS).

Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (also known as an anticardiolipin syndrome or Hughes disease) is not only misdiagnosed and underdiagnosed but is responsible for 1 in 5 recurrent miscarriages in women. Sadly, many women are not properly screened for APS—even after multiple pregnancy losses caused by this clotting disorder.

Failure to screen accordingly following prior miscarriages and clots might be considered medical negligence on part of the physician, as a diagnosis can be determined with a simple blood test. Luckily, complications posed by APS during pregnancy are treatable after diagnosis. If you have experienced recurring miscarriages or blood clots but haven’t been screened for clotting disorders, it’s possible that your physician is negligently responsible.

Misdiagnosis of a Miscarriage

Many women seek medical care after experiencing severe cramping, lower back or pelvic pain, excessive bleeding, or sudden discharge of tissue or fluid. While these are common signs of miscarriage that should be taken seriously, some doctors fail to take women seriously when they exhibit these telltale symptoms.

As is the case with most medical issues, misdiagnosis is a possibility. Doctors and physicians are held to certain guidelines when diagnosing loss of pregnancy. Failure to adhere to these guidelines can result in a medical misdiagnosis of miscarriage. Here are a few scenarios that may lead to misdiagnosis:

Dating errors

Mothers attend regular check-ups to monitor the growth and well-being of their unborn child. If the date of conception was inaccurately predicted, it’s possible that a doctor might incorrectly equate a lack of anticipated fetal growth with miscarriage or stillbirth.

If a mother has a history of irregular menstrual cycles (a common occurrence for many women) or isn’t sure about the date of her last menstrual cycle, doctors can jump to an incorrect conclusion regarding the viability of the pregnancy. Even a 1–2-day difference can impact whether or not a fetal heartbeat is detected when expected and influence a doctor’s perception of viability.

Low-rising hCG levels

After conception, a woman’s body rapidly produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The hormone level is predicted to rise at a certain rate after conception. While hCG levels are typically easy to predict and are used to establish date of conception, it’s possible for viable pregnancies to yield slower-rising hCG levels.

In some instances, doctors can mistake this slow-rising hCG for a nonviable pregnancy. It’s important to know that declining hCG levels are normal towards the end of the first trimester, making it all the more important to establish correct dates throughout the pregnancy.

Misdiagnosis of ectopic pregnancy

Implantation occurs when the fertilized egg implants in the lining of the woman’s uterus. This typically occurs 6-12 days after ovulation. Unfortunately, an embryo that implants in a woman’s fallopian tube (rather than the uterus) is not a viable pregnancy. This is called an ectopic pregnancy and can have fatal consequences on the woman’s health.

Ectopic pregnancies can damage surrounding organs and result in a life-threatening blood loss, making it all the more important to diagnose and treat ectopic pregnancies as swiftly as possible. If a doctor is too quick to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy based on low-rising hCG level, there is a possibility of misdiagnosis and termination of a viable pregnancy.

Proving Medical Negligence After Loss of Pregnancy

While it can be challenging to prove that an act of medical malpractice was responsible for loss of pregnancy, there are ways to expose that a medical professional was negligently responsible for the miscarriage.

To give yourself the best chance of earning the compensation you rightfully deserve, it’s crucial to secure legal representation from a skilled medical malpractice attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you obtain the most favorable outcome and ensure justice is served.

Our firm takes pride in providing dedicated and personalized care to those who have suffered as a result of medical malpractice in Nassau County. With over twenty years of legal experience, Attorney Charles R. Gueli is here to protect your best interests and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Do you suspect your miscarriage was the result of medical malpractice? Our team is available 24/7 to assist you. Call (516) 628-6402 to request your free consultation today.

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