Case Studies: Healthcare

£100,000 Damages for Failure to Diagnose Ectopic Pregnancy

O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors recently obtained a settlement of £100,000.00 on behalf of our client who suffered significant injuries due to the negligent management of her ectopic pregnancy in 2018. Claire Hunt dealt with the matter.

Our client attended the Fertility Clinic at her local hospital in July 2018. She was six weeks pregnant and underwent an ultrasound scan. Unfortunately the scan did not definitively show an intrauterine pregnancy and whilst a repeat ultrasound scan was arranged, no further hCG tests i.e. blood tests to measure the presence of a hormone produced during pregnancy, were advised or carried out.

Our client reattended the Clinic four days later and underwent a further ultrasound scan and was then referred to the Early Pregnancy Clinic. When she attended there the following day, “a likely miscarriage” was diagnosed although her hCG levels were again not checked. She then attended the same Clinic on two further occasions and whilst her hCG levels were checked and had now increased, she was not reviewed by a senior clinician nor was a urinary pregnancy test advised or performed.

During this time, our client was also experiencing intermittent episodes of severe cramping, abdominal pain and  bleeding. She therefore attended her GP in mid-August 2018 and although a pregnancy test was positive, no further action was taken. Her symptoms worsened significantly the following day and she therefore attended A&E at a different hospital where a diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy i.e. pregnancy developing within her right Fallopian tube instead of in her uterus and internal bleeding was made. She therefore required an emergency laparoscopy and salpingectomy i.e. removal of the affected Fallopian tube. This in turn led to a prolonged recovery period.

Our client instructed us to investigate the standard of hospital treatment which she had received. As such, we obtained copies of her clinical records and instructed an independent Consultant in Reproductive Medicine based outside Northern Ireland. It was our expert’s opinion that the treatment which our client received fell below the standards to be expected and that the initial diagnosis should have been a pregnancy of unknown location and that our client’s hCG levels should have been checked more frequently. In addition, the second ultrasound scan was not performed or interpreted correctly and our client should have been offered treatment with methotrexate thereby avoiding the need for any surgical intervention, the loss of her right Fallopian tube and the consequent adverse effects on her fertility.

We also then obtained a further report from an independent Consultant Psychiatrist based in Northern Ireland who confirmed that our client had suffered significant psychological upset including anxiety and sleep disturbance for an extended period of time and arising from the need for emergency surgery.

Whilst it was necessary to issue protective High Court proceedings, the Defendant’s representatives instigated settlement negotiations. Ultimately it was agreed that our client would receive £100,000 encompassing awards in respect of the avoidable pain, suffering and inconvenience which she had endured and the private fertility treatment fees which she would incur in the future

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