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Failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy may have led to coma

Because there are so many babies safely born every day in Massachusetts, it may be easy to overlook the potential dangers that a pregnant woman may face. Even a typical pregnancy places an enormous strain on a woman's body. In some cases, an atypical pregnancy can prove fatal. One out-of-state family is now arguing that doctor's failure to diagnose a woman's ectopic pregnancy left her in a coma.

Family members of the 36-year-old woman say she was approximately 12 weeks pregnant when she began experiencing extreme abdominal pain. Doctors at an emergency room conducted an ultrasound but reported that her baby was healthy. She was given a prescription for pain medicine and sent home.

Soon afterward, the woman's husband discovered her unconscious and not breathing. She was transported to the same hospital. At this time, she reportedly underwent emergency surgery after doctors discovered the fetus was developing outside of the uterus, known as an ectopic pregnancy. The next day, her family members say, she slipped into a coma.

While some ectopic pregnancies may be difficult to diagnose, medical professionals say that because they are relatively rare, doctors should have experience diagnosing and treating one. Additionally, one doctor says that certain assumptions regarding the pregnancy should be made if a woman in her first trimester complains of severe abdominal pain and bleeding, and a fetus cannot be discovered in the uterus by an ultrasound.  In that case, measures should be taken to rule out or confirm certain complications.

Some reports indicate that ectopic pregnancies are the most prevalent cause of maternal death during the first trimester. Failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy can have devastating consequences due to internal bleeding. Those in Massachusetts who are suffering because medical professionals failed to diagnose a condition such as this have the option of seeking legal recourse in a civil court. An experienced attorney can help review the details of medical malpractice allegations and pursue the most appropriate course of action.

Source: ABC News, "Undetected Ectopic Pregnancy Leaves Woman in Coma", Sydney Lupkin, Feb. 18, 2015

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