An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside of the womb and, sadly, often results in the death of the unborn child. Failure or delay in diagnosis or incorrect treatment can also have very serious consequences for the health of the mother. It is therefore very important that anyone who has been through this traumatic experience is able to access expert legal help to assist with their ectopic pregnancy claim.
We understand that going through such an awful experience can be truly devastating. We are therefore here to offer the guidance you need to make a successful claim at such a difficult time. Speak to the understanding and caring team at Hospital Negligence today to discuss your situation and find out what steps to take next. Call us on 0800 014 7481 or allow us to contact you by completing our online enquiry form.
Read About the Ectopic Pregnancy Claims We've Dealt With
Case study: delay in diagnosing ectopic pregnancy - £20,000
Fran (31) suffered an ectopic pregnancy that went undiagnosed causing one of her fallopian tubes to rupture. She required emergency surgery and a blood transfusion which would have been avoided if she had been treated appropriately in the first place. As a result she was left with a large abdominal scar measuring eight inches.
Fran contacted the medical negligence specialists at Hospital Negligence for advice and her case was taken on by solicitor Katie Nolan. Katie secured Fran £20,000 in compensation for the pain and suffering she had endured due to the hospital’s errors.
Fran’s problems began when her GP referred her to her local hospital as she was suffering lower abdominal pain and a brown vaginal discharge. After being reviewed by medical staff she was discharged with advice to attend the early pregnancy unit for an ultrasound scan.
Ectopic pregnancy missed during ultrasound
Two days later Fran underwent the ultrasound scan and an early pregnancy or complete miscarriage was suspected. The next day Fran was experiencing quite heavy vaginal bleeding and abdominal pain and was concerned about her condition so attended A&E and was admitted for observation. An ultrasound scan was performed and it was reported that there was no sign of an ectopic pregnancy (one that develops outside of the womb, is rarely viable and can be life-threatening for the mother.)
Warning signs ignored
When Fran woke up the next day she was bleeding heavily so called an ambulance. At the hospital she was assessed by a doctor who carried out another ultrasound scan and noted that there was a mass in one of her fallopian tubes yet the doctor did not suspect an ectopic pregnancy. The next day after Fran underwent numerous tests she was discharged home with pain relief and advised to return if the bleeding became worse.
Emergency surgery following severe pain and symptoms
Several days later Fran returned to A&E with severe lower abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. She was given morphine and a ruptured ectopic pregnancy was diagnosed. Fran had to undergo emergency surgery to remove the fetus and required a blood transfusion. Following her ordeal she was left with a very large scar and was also traumatised.
Claim for trauma
However if the ectopic pregnancy had been diagnosed when the signs were first apparent Fran would have received less invasive and traumatic treatment. Fran’s case was taken on by Katie Nolan, one of the specialist solicitors at Hospital Negligence, and she was awarded £20,000 in compensation from the hospital trust responsible for the errors.
Case study: missed ectopic pregnancy - £5,000
Jenny was nine weeks pregnant when she attended her GP complaining of abdominal pain and cramps and some slight bloody vaginal discharge. She was referred to the Early Pregnancy Unit for an ultrasound scan, which was performed two days later. The scan showed something in the uterus but it was not consistent with a nine-week-old fetus.
Ectopic pregnancy not considered despite warning signs
Nothing was identified in the fallopian tubes but given the situation the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy should have been considered at this stage. A beta HCG test could have helped come to a diagnosis. This hormone increases rapidly as the fetus develops and if the level is not consistent with ultrasound findings it usually indicates that something is amiss. In other words the opportunity to diagnose an ectopic at this stage was missed.
Jenny was told that she may be having a threatened miscarriage and she should go home and rest. Over the next few days she continued to feel unwell but the abdominal pain and bleeding stopped.
Further pain and symptoms
Six days after the initial visit to the GP Jenny suddenly developed severe abdominal pain. She contacted the Early Pregnancy Unit and was reassured that her symptoms were consistent with a miscarriage and there was no need for her to come into hospital.
Late diagnosis leads to much slower recovery
The following day, as the pain was even worse, Jenny called an ambulance and was taken to hospital where a diagnosis of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy was immediately made. She was taken to theatre for a laparotomy and the right fallopian tube was removed. Jenny required a significant blood transfusion and a short stay in the High Dependency Unit as she was so unwell. She was discharged after five days and made a slow recovery.
The fallopian tube would have been lost even if the ectopic had been diagnosed sooner, but it could have been removed via a method that would have allowed Jenny to make a much speedier recovery and not required a blood transfusion.
After seeking support from Hospital Negligence Jenny was eventually awarded £5,000 in compensation.
Case study: failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy - £5,000
Sophie, 41, had to undergo a traumatic surgical termination of pregnancy after doctors failed to investigate the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, despite there being clear warning signs. After contacting the team at Hospital Negligence for advice she was awarded £5,000 in compensation.
Warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy were missed
When Sophie discovered she was pregnant for physical and emotional reasons she knew that she could not continue with it and decided she wanted a termination. She made an appointment with an abortion clinic and went for an initial assessment with a nurse. At this appointment a scan was done of her uterus which could not identify a pregnancy. Sophie was advised to return to the clinic in seven to 10 days.
While she was waiting for her next appointment, Sophie began to suffer abdominal cramps and heavy bleeding and thought she was suffering a miscarriage.
When she returned to the clinic for her appointment a further abdominal ultrasound was done which again was unable to identify an embryo in Sophie’s uterus. A senior nurse was called who was also unable to locate the pregnancy. Two pregnancy tests were done which were positive. A scan was carried out which the nurses decided showed a very small embryo and said that Sophie was just five weeks pregnant, which was why it was difficult to locate. However Sophie said she was sure that she was seven weeks pregnant.
Sophie was booked in for a surgical termination of the pregnancy which was carried out under a general anaesthetic. Due to the small size of what the doctor believed to be an embryo in Sophie’s uterus he advised her to take a pregnancy test in three weeks’ time to ensure that it had been removed.
Ruptured fallopian tube due to ectopic pregnancy
A few days later Sophie experienced a sudden onset of severe abdominal pain and she contacted the out of hours GP service for help. The call handler recognised that Sophie needed urgent treatment and called an ambulance for her.
Once in hospital an ultrasound scan was performed which revealed the pregnancy was in her right fallopian tube and was therefore ectopic. Furthermore the pregnancy had caused the tube to rupture, hence the severe pain Sophie had experienced.
The claim for negligence
However the potential for Sophie’s pregnancy to be ectopic should have been picked up at an earlier stage by doctors as there had been clear warning signs including the difficulty in locating the embryo in her uterus and the earlier heavy bleeding. If doctors had done their job properly she would have been sent for further investigations and would have avoided the traumatic termination, which should not have been performed.
The team at Hospital Negligence obtained Sophie £5,000 in compensation for her pain and suffering.
About Ectopic Pregnancy
This type of pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg begins its development outside of the womb. Although this occurs most commonly in the fallopian tubes, it has been known to happen in other parts of the body. As the fertilised egg grows, a number of complications can arise - one of which can be a rupturing of the fallopian tube, which can lead to heavy internal bleeding.
Among the various symptoms of ectopic pregnancy are:
- Lower abdomen pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Feeling faint
Ectopic Pregnancy Treatment
Sadly, termination of the pregnancy is often the only option for treating ectopic pregnancy, as allowing the fertilised egg to grow could prove very harmful, even life-threatening for the mother.
Treatment for terminating the pregnancy can be either medical or surgical, but it is imperative the procedures are carried out at the right time and the appropriate treatment is administered. If the treatment given was incorrect or inappropriate, a medical negligence claim may be made.
For example, it may be the case that a doctor or medical professional either dismisses the patient's concerns or provides the wrong explanation for her symptoms, or the wrong or both fallopian tubes may be removed by accident during surgery.