36 Year Old Mother Compensated for Medical Negligence After Hospital’s Failure to Diagnose Ectopic Pregnancy

Published 18 Apr 2016

Our client, a 36 year old mother was approximately five weeks pregnant in her second pregnancy when she presented to her regional public hospital emergency department with lower abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding.  After routine testing, she was discharged home.  

About one week later, still complaining of lower abdominal pain, our client consulted her General Practitioner who scheduled a pelvic ultrasound which reported "no evidence of intrauterine pregnancy" but she received an urgent referral to the same regional public hospital emergency department for a possible "ectopic pregnancy".  After basic clinical examination, the hospital doctors discharged her home and simply scheduled her for an Early Pregnancy Assessment Service several days later.  Prior to attending that Assessment Service, our client was rushed in to the operating theatre to undergo laparoscopic left partial salpingectomy surgery (ie surgical removal of a Fallopian tube) after the ectopic pregnancy in her left Fallopian tube was finally diagnosed.

Ectopic pregnancies occur when an embryo implants outside the uterine cavity with the majority taking place in the Fallopian tubes.  The placement of this embryo in the Fallopian tube creates a situation where, as the embryo grows, the Fallopian tube will eventually rupture which is a potentially life-threatening event due to potential loss of blood.  Once the Fallopian tube has ruptured, the only treatment is to remove the tube surgically which, unfortunately, is precisely what happened to our client.

At no cost to our client, the experienced and professional medical negligence solicitors at Gerard Malouf & Partners approached a world renowned expert on their panel who was able to confirm that standard emergency department management of a woman presenting with symptoms such as our client (eg pregnancy, abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding) would be to perform a pelvic ultrasound scan looking for the presence and viability of an intrauterine pregnancy.  Such widespread use of ultrasound scanning, had it been performed at the earlier presentation, allows for an earlier diagnosis of the great majority of tubal ectopic pregnancies before they rupture thus increasing the likelihood the Fallopian tube can be saved and reproductive potential persevered.

Our expert went on to confirm the public hospitals' failure to contemplate a differential diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy for our client, who presented with the text book symptoms of same, directly resulted in the lost opportunity for a referral to a specialist obstetrician who would have had chance to treat our client with methotrexate and preserve the Fallopian tube and its reproductive function.  Due to the hospital's medical negligence, our client suffered physical injury, the removal of her left Fallopian tube, as well as psychological injury due to her loss.  After negotiations and discussions, Gerard Malouf & Partners, based upon explicit client instructions, successfully settled the matter for $30,000 in compensation.  Our client didn't want the stress of advancing to a hearing and wanted to move on with her life

If you think there has been medically negligent treatment by your doctor or hospital, please contact the experts at Gerard Malouf & partners for a free consultation and discussion how they can investigate your compensation claim on a no win no fee basis.