Pregnant women can suffer from a disorder that is characterized by a rapid increase in blood pressure. Referred to as preeclampsia, the condition can occur during pregnancy and also during the weeks after delivery. Preeclampsia occurs in approximately 5 to 8 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. It is particularly threatening to the life of the mother and her baby if medical care professionals failed to diagnose and treat the condition promptly and correctly. The consequences of untreated preeclampsia can include stroke, seizure, and the failure of multiple organs.
Yet preeclampsia does not get the attention it so rightfully deserves, as a recent USA TODAY investigation revealed. That may be changing, however; not only did the paper’s in-depth report on maternal mortality rates spark a national conversation, but pop superstar Beyoncé’s recent interview with Vogue, where she talked about her own experienced with toxemia (another name for preeclampsia) made international headlines.
If it takes a diva to bring attention to an issue that is injuring and killing pregnant women here and abroad, then we are grateful to Beyoncé for her candor. Her story might just save lives.
Diagnosing a dangerous condition
Many doctors do understand the signs and symptoms that indicate preeclampsia, such as sudden weight gain, swelling of the feet, hands, and limbs, blood pressure in excess of 140/90, blurry vision, headaches, and protein in the mother’s urine. However, many times women report limited symptoms and there is no specific diagnostic test for preeclampsia at this time. As a result, the detection of this condition can be quite challenging for medical professionals.
However, obstetricians do have a responsibility to detect preeclampsia and there are steps they can take to effectively diagnose the condition. When doctors fail to make a proper diagnosis, they can be held responsible for medical malpractice.
Particular risk factors should alert doctors that particular symptoms a woman exhibits may be associated with preeclampsia. Some of these risk factors include:
- Women below 18 or over 40
- First-time pregnancy
- Personal or family history of preeclampsia
- Pregnant with multiples
Preeclampsia tends to occur around the 20th week of pregnancy. Therefore, doctors should be alert during this time for any symptoms indicating this condition, including high blood pressure, protein in the urine, as well as other potential indicators.
Although preeclampsia is not detected by a single test, more frequent prenatal visits and monitoring of the woman’s blood pressure can help increase the likelihood of detection. Doctors should develop a treatment plan for managing the disorder and making sure patients understand the importance of proper preeclampsia management.
Some of the features of a preeclampsia treatment plan can include multiple blood pressure checks each day, visits to the hospital for care, bed rest, and blood pressure medication. In certain cases, it may be best for the mother to remain in the hospital until delivery so she can receive the proper number of urine and blood pressure checks as well as a magnesium sulfate drip – all of which may help prevent the onset of eclampsia.
As well, in the hospital it is easier for medical professionals to determine if an emergency cesarean section or inducement of labor is necessary for the health of the mother or baby.
Course of action after a failure to diagnose preeclampsia
Medical malpractice may concluded from a misdiagnosis of preeclampsia if the doctor failed to provide the expected standard of care another physician in the same or similar situation and circumstances would reasonably be expected to provide. As well, if the condition was diagnosed, but the doctor failed to apply proper treatment measures to protect the health of the mother and baby, resulting in harm to either, a claim of medical malpractice may also apply.
A mother suffering from preeclampsia is at-risk, and so is her child. If you or your baby has suffered this condition due to a misdiagnosis or inadequate care, the Kentucky and Ohio medical malpractice attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law are here to help you secure the justice and compensation you deserve. To request a free initial consultation, call us at. You may also send us a message through our contact form.