The Dangers of Misdiagnosing an Ectopic Pregnancy

When these abnormal pregnancies are not identified and remedied, the patient may have a right to sue for negligence.

Misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancies can devastate a woman’s health and affect her ability to bear children in the future.
Early diagnosis and treatment ectopic pregnancies is essential.

If your doctor misdiagnoses an ectopic pregnancy, you may have a viable medical negligence claim, particularly if it results in sterility or the termination of a viable pregnancy.


A client came to us with such a claim. She had a history of problems conceiving naturally and had previously suffered ectopic pregnancies. She had managed to conceive naturally but it became apparent to her early on that something was wrong as she was experiencing abnormal bleeding and feeling acute pain.

She went to hospital where they performed a scan, and despite her symptoms and history, she was told there was nothing to worry about and she was sent home.

A few weeks later the problems escalated and she returned to hospital where they performed another scan and an ectopic pregnancy was confirmed. By now it was too late to have anything other than emergency surgery as the fallopian tube was at risk of rupturing. She had emergency surgery to remove the foetus and her fallopian tube. Leaving her with no chance of conceiving naturally again and any future plans to have children would have to be through IVF, which can be expensive and traumatic.

We wrote a letter of claim stating the first scan was misinterpreted and immediately reviewed a hostile letter of denial from the hospital lawyers.

We asked them to disclose the first scan images so that we could get an independent doctor to comment. They delayed for many many months. Finally they said that the relevant scan images did not exist.

We suspected the scan had been “disappeared”. Remember, in this and all cases, the burden is on us to prove the case. Without this vital piece of evidence the case seemed weak, meaning this poor distraught unfortunate woman would be denied justice.

So, we did what we always do at Treadstone Law and put our money where our mouth is. We issued court proceedings anyway.  We got a court order for disclosure and low and behold the scan miraculously reappeared.

We had our doctors review the images and they confirmed that the scans had been misinterpreted and she should not have been sent home in pain.

We were then able to negotiate a handsome settlement for our client.

What is Ectopic Pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. Common areas where the ectopic pregnancy may occur are the fallopian tubes, the abdomen, on the cervix or on an ovary. Unlike a complete molar pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy does involve a properly fertilized egg that would likely be viable if implanted in the uterus.

Diagnosing an ectopic pregnancy normally involves a combination of bloodwork, ultrasounds and careful consideration of a woman’s symptoms. While women with ectopic pregnancies can exhibit some of the same symptomology as those with normal pregnancies, there are some warning signs — such as bleeding, swelling or abdominal pain. Women who have had previous ectopic pregnancies, STDs, use an IUD or have used fertility drugs are at a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy. All of these factors should be taken into consideration by a doctor.

Misdiagnosis of Ectopic Pregnancy

Misdiagnosis of ectopic pregnancy can result in infertility, organ damage and severe drops in blood pressure. Ruptured fallopian tubes, shock and even death could result if the ectopic pregnancy isn’t terminated as soon as possible. As such, early diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy is essential to proper treatment.

Symptoms of Ectopic Pregnancy

  • Nausea and vomiting with pain.
  • Sharp abdominal cramps.
  • Pain on one side of your body.
  • Dizziness or weakness.
  • Pain in your shoulder, neck, or rectum.

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of delayed diagnosis then Treadstone Law can help you claim the compensation you deserve.

Get in touch with our Clinical Negligence team today for a free no obligation consultation.  Call 0161 685 0070 or use the form below and we’ll be in touch.

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