The Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team has settled a claim against Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust for a client whose ectopic pregnancy should have been diagnosed before she suffered a burst fallopian tube that required life-saving treatment.
At five weeks pregnant, the client experienced light bleeding and her GP found that, although her hCG levels were increasing, they had not doubled as would be expected with a healthy pregnancy. As a result, she was referred to an Early Pregnancy Unit at Wycombe Hospital and her GP raised a concern of the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy. An ultrasound scan showed no evidence of an intrauterine or extrauterine pregnancy. The client was informed that she had had a complete miscarriage but there was a possibility of a pregnancy of unknown location.
She was subsequently reviewed after the scan and her hcG levels were dropping. However, she was still reporting pain and bleeding. A second ultrasound scan was carried out and no pregnancy could be viewed but the scan could not exclude an ectopic pregnancy. She continued to be advised to return for repeat blood tests to monitor her hCG levels. However, she collapsed at home and was rushed to hospital having suffered a ruptured fallopian tube.
The client underwent laparoscopy which showed a significant bleed secondary to a large ectopic pregnancy. She therefore underwent surgery to remove her burst fallopian tube and also required a blood transfusion. She was placed in the Intensive Care Unit for a day. Following the incident, she experienced flashbacks of the events and her life-threatening collapse. She was prescribed medication for anxiety.
As part of Penningtons Manches’ investigations into the client’s claim, the team obtained expert evidence which showed that her ectopic pregnancy should have been diagnosed sooner. Had this been the case, she would have avoided the rupture of her fallopian tube, intra-abdominal haemorrhage and the psychological injury she suffered as a result of her traumatic and life threatening collapse.
The defendant trust admitted liability in full and provided the client with a formal apology. A good settlement was also achieved for her.
Emma Beeson, who handled the case and deals with many gynaecological claims, commented: “I am really pleased that we were able to achieve a good settlement for our client in this claim and that the defendant trust has apologised for the clear failures in her care. However, this claim once again highlights the importance of raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy; an awareness which will help women to question their care and raise any concerns they may have.”