Miscarriage Misdiagnosis and Ectopic Pregnancy Compensation

Miscarriage Misdiagnosis and Ectopic Pregnancy Compensation

A misdiagnosed miscarriage can occur when a sonographer is unable to find a heartbeat of the baby.  This can lead to patients being incorrectly informed that they have suffered a miscarriage when they may not have, or they may have an ectopic pregnancy.  In either situation, you may be able to bring a claim for medical negligence, because of the misdiagnosis.

Being diagnosed with either a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy can be deeply traumatic for expectant parents. However, it is important that the two are not confused and the correct diagnosis is given.  Whilst both conditions may present with similar symptoms, leading to potential misdiagnosis, an ectopic pregnancy can have serious consequences on the mother’s health if not correctly identified.  A miscarriage diagnosis, when there has not been one, can have also life changing consequences for the expectant parents.

If you would like advice about a miscarriage misdiagnosis claim talk to our lawyers about how we might be able to help. Please phone us on 0333 123 9099, or email us at enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk, or fill in our contact form.

We will support you, in making a claim to achieve the best outcome.

What is a Miscarriage?

A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy during the first 23 weeks.  After this, the baby is considered ‘viable’ which means it can be born and has a reasonable chance of survival outside the womb.  A loss of pregnancy after this date is referred to as a stillbirth.

It is estimated that around 1 in 8 known pregnancies end in a miscarriage.  More women may miscarry at an earlier date without realising they were pregnant.

Most miscarriages occur in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, which is why many couples wait until this date to tell others.  A late miscarriage occurs between 12 and 24 weeks and is much less common, occurring in only 1-2% of pregnancies.

Whilst the majority of miscarriages cannot be prevented, for most women it is a one-off event and they go on to have a successful pregnancy.  Recurrent miscarriages, which is defined as losing 3 or more pregnancies in a row, is uncommon and only affects around 1% of women.

How are Miscarriages Misdiagnosed?

If you have symptoms of a miscarriage, such as bleeding or cramping, you will usually be referred to a hospital for tests.  An ultrasound scan is commonly used to determine if you are having a miscarriage.

A miscarriage may be misdiagnosed for several reasons.  This may be due to:

  • Faulty or old ultrasound equipment
  • Incorrect examinations
  • Human error - failure to correctly read ultrasound tests
  • Similarities in symptoms between a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy

You do not necessarily need to have presented with symptoms of a miscarriage for a doctor to diagnosis this.  A miscarriage, especially in earlier pregnancies, may be asymptomatic.

If a miscarriage is diagnosed, you may be advised to take medication if the uterine lining has not yet shed.  This can have a devastating effect on expectant parents who are later informed the miscarriage had been misdiagnosed and the pregnancy was viable.  If there is any doubt in your mind, you can ask for a repeat ultrasound before any medication is taken or treatment is commenced.

The Difference Between Miscarriages and Ectopic Pregnancies

An ectopic pregnancy occurs where a fertilised egg attaches to a fallopian tube or other body parts rather than the uterus.  This occurs in 1-2% of all pregnancies.  Ectopic pregnancies can resolve naturally under the observation of a doctor but, if they do not, medical intervention may be required.  This may take the form of medication (methotrexate) or surgery. 

In a miscarriage, the egg will have attached as usual to the lining of the uterus.  However, the pregnancy will be spontaneously lost.  This is usually because the foetus isn’t developing normally. It may also be due to an infection, hormonal problems of the mother or uterus problems.

The most common signs of both a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy are:

  • Stomach pain
  • Vaginal bleeding

If an ectopic pregnancy is left untreated (due to a misdiagnosis as a miscarriage), the fallopian tube may rupture, causing internal bleeding and potentially infertility depending on the extent of the injuries.  This can be incredibly serious and requires urgent medical treatment.

Alternatively, if a miscarriage is incorrectly diagnosed as an ectopic pregnancy, a woman may undergo unnecessary surgery to remove the suspected ectopic pregnancy, which involves removing the fallopian tube.  This surgery can impact on a couple’s chances of conceiving naturally, making it more difficult to fall pregnant in the future.

How to Make a Misdiagnosed Miscarriage Claim

If you think you may have a misdiagnosis claim, contact us today for a free initial consultation on 0333 123 9099.  During this initial consultation, we will advise on your prospects of making a successful claim and how to fund your claim including the popular no win, no fee agreements.

Once we have details of your treatment, we will then contact the relevant healthcare provider to inform them of a potential claim.  We will then obtain an independent expert report on the misdiagnosis, to support your claim, which we will be ready to submit to the hospital or healthcare provider.

We will then enter into negotiations on your behalf to reach a settlement.  If an agreement cannot be reached about the amount of compensation owed to you, or the hospital does not accept it is to blame, we will advise you about starting legal action.  Most cases do not need to go to court and we are able to settle these efficiently, giving you a speedy resolution to your case.

However, the length of each case can vary depending on the complexity and whether we can reach an agreement with the healthcare provider.

How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim?

Whether you are bringing a claim for miscarriage misdiagnosis or ectopic pregnancy misdiagnosis, you typically have three years to bring your claim from the date you were given the wrong diagnosis (or the date you became aware of the misdiagnosis).  If you were under the age of 18 when misdiagnosed, the three years begin to run from your 18th birthday and therefore will expire when you turn 21.

Our Experience

Our team at IBB Law is recognised by Chambers and Partners and the Legal 500, the two leading client guidelines to the legal profession, for our exceptional skill in handling clinical negligence claims.

Legal 500 judges IBB as having a “good” clinical negligence department and “puts the client’s interests at the forefront of every decision.” Simon Pimlott has “a real eye for detail and works incredibly hard to get the best result for each client.” Simon is identified as a “Rising Star”.  

Legal 500 (PI) – “Simon Pimlott is a very passionate lawyer and is dedicated to his clients. He has a particular aptitude for working with challenging and vulnerable clients, especially with mental health problems. He is not afraid to take on difficult cases.”

Legal 500 (Clin Neg) - Simon Pimlott is an outstanding claimant solicitor. He is thorough, intelligent, and empathetic.

We are accredited by the Law Society for Personal Injury Law reflecting our expertise in this area. IBB Claims’ partner Malcolm Underhill has particular expertise with all types of brain injuries, also being accredited as a Brain Injury Specialist by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Chambers describes Malcolm as being a highly experienced personal injury practitioner with a strong focus on cases that involve brain injury. A client notes: "He is a very personable, sympathetic professional that has helped us as a family…"  It is also said that Malcolm “was very good at keeping in touch and explaining everything to me”.

A market source praises Malcolm’s "clear and empathetic understanding of the individual client and family situation." One impressed client adds: "Malcolm Underhill has been superb from the outset. He has in-depth knowledge gained from extensive experience, which is certainly advantageous."

How We Can Help

At IBB Claims, our medical negligence team, led by Malcolm Underhill, has the skill knowledge and expertise to advise and represent you if you wish to make a claim for a misdiagnosed miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

We have years of experience pursuing a wide range of gynaecological claims and misdiagnosis claims.  Our team has a strong track history of success, including in even the most complex cases, achieving multi-million-pound settlements for our clients under challenging circumstances.

Malcolm Underhill is a recognised leader in the field of personal injury law, being a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and an accredited Brain Injury Specialist.

To talk about how we might be able to help, please phone us on 0333 123 9099, email us at enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk or fill in our short contact form.  Any discussions you have with us will be in the strictest of confidence.

FAQs

What are the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy?

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Light-headedness
  • Fainting

What increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy?

  • Previous surgery on fallopian tubes
  • Previous ectopic pregnancy
  • IVF
  • Smoking
  • Over age of 35

Whilst most miscarriages are not caused by anything in particular, the above risks can increase the chance of a miscarriage, as well as the use of drugs, excessive caffeine and alcohol.  In women aged 35 to 39, up to 20% of pregnancies will end in miscarriage.  This increases with more than half of pregnancies in those aged over 45 ending in miscarriage.

What other conditions might an ectopic pregnancy be confused with?

There are a number of conditions which have similar symptoms and therefore may lead to a misdiagnosis.Stomach pain is the main indicator of an ectopic pregnancy and this is also present during a miscarriage, appendicitis, a urinary tract infection (UTI) and pelvic inflammatory disease.

What is negligence in a misdiagnosed miscarriage claim?

NICE guidelines state that a woman with a suspected ectopic pregnancy should be referred to A&E immediately.If an ectopic pregnancy is misdiagnosed as a miscarriage and treatment is delayed, the fallopian tube could burst causing internal bleeding.

When a miscarriage is misdiagnosed as an ectopic pregnancy, you may be subject to unnecessary surgery to remove the fallopian tube.This could reduce your chance of being able to conceive naturally, resulting in expenses such as IVF treatment.

We may also be able to help if you have been misdiagnosed with a miscarriage but have continued to have a viable (healthy) pregnancy.A study at 7 hospitals within the UK showed that of 549 women initially diagnosed with a miscarriage, around 3% (19 women) were wrong and these pregnancies resulted in the birth of a healthy child.

Do I have a misdiagnosis claim?

You may have a claim if it can be shown that:

  • You were owed a duty of care;
  • That duty of care was breached i.e. the medical professionals treating you were negligent; and
  • The breach of duty caused your injuries.

Our specialist solicitors will be able to assist you further in assessing whether you have a potential misdiagnosis claim.

Who can claim and what can I claim for?

A mother can claim compensation for any physical pain she has experienced in addition to psychiatric injuries.It may also be possible for the father or second parent, as a secondary victim, to bring a claim for the psychological injury caused by the death.

Each claim will depend on your individual circumstances. We may be able to assist you with a claim for:

  • Any pain and suffering you experienced;

This can be physical pain or psychiatric such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

  • The impact the misdiagnosis had including current and future care costs;
  • Any financial losses e.g. travel expenses, medical expenses, future private fertility treatment and funeral expenses; and
  • Any future losses such as loss of earnings for any time you may need to take off work.

What support is available for people who have suffered a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy?

  • Tommy’s

This is a charity working to make the UK the safest place in the world to give birth.Their website contains lots of information about miscarriages, ectopic and molar pregnancies and they have a dedicated support line run by midwives who are trained in bereavement support.

  • The Miscarriage Association

A dedicated support service for anyone who has been affected by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy.A helpline is available Monday-Friday 9am – 4pm with a live chat function from 10am – 3pm.

They also have dedicated support groups throughout the country, which are currently taking place via Zoom.

  • Cruse Bereavement Care

Specialist bereavement experts who can help you understand your grief and cope with the loss.A helpline is open Monday-Friday 9:30am – 5pm

Contact our miscarriage misdiagnosis claim solicitors

If you have had a miscarriage diagnosis, please do contact us to speak with an experienced and specialist solicitor who can advise you on the prospects of making a successful claim for miscarriage diagnosis compensation.

Call us for FREE advice on the possibility of making a successful claim.

Get in touch with our miscarriage misdiagnosis and ectopic claims solicitors to talk about how we can to help. Please phone us on 0333 123 9099, or email us at enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk, or fill in our contact form.

We are able to support you, in making a claim to achieve the best possible outcome and will support you throughout your claim.