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Misdiagnosis of ectopic pregnancy can lead to complications

Pregnancy is supposed to be a period of excitement and joy as Texas mothers anticipate the arrival of their child. Although pregnancies do come with some complications, mothers rely heavily on their doctors to safely care for them and the unborn baby. But, a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine shows there is a pattern in misdiagnosing ectopic pregnancies and this factor can cause unexpected pregnancy complications.

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs outside of a uterus. It can be diagnosed in several ways usually when doctors don't see the pregnancy on an ultrasound or don't see a heartbeat when the embryo is large enough. Usually this condition is diagnosed with a blood test and an ultrasound. But, according to a recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine, several times these diagnoses are wrong and the pregnancy is actually still viable.

When a pregnancy is determined to be ectopic, the woman is often given the cancer drug Methotrexate. This drug facilitates the termination of the growing embryo. But when this drug is given to a woman who does not actually have an ectopic pregnancy it can cause a miscarriage to a viable pregnancy or serious malformations when the child is born months later. The paper mentions the importance of not interfering with an early pregnancy if the woman is not in distress in order to monitor the situation and make sure the diagnosis is accurate.

When a woman has a misdiagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy the results can be devastating, putting the health of the unborn child in serious peril. A misdiagnosis can happen because of negligence of a doctor and the consequences can mean an unexpected financial burden and emotional strife. An attorney skilled in medical malpractice can help a family determine if negligence on the part of medical staff occurred and whether the family has the right to compensation.

Source: WBUR, "Tragically wrong: When good early pregnancies are misdiagnosed as bad," Carey Goldberg, Oct. 11, 2013

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