The time leading up to the birth of a child is often an exciting period. From getting the nursery ready to picking out baby clothes and names, it might even feel like there is an endless list of things to do. One of the most important things any pregnant woman can do during this time is prioritize her health and well-being. Unfortunately, this is not easy when a doctor fails to diagnose preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a serious medical condition that affects pregnant women. Hypertensive disorders — including preeclampsia — are the most common cause of infant and maternal death and illness. Timely diagnosis is essential for this condition, as there are no cures outside of giving birth.
What is preeclampsia?
The onset of preeclampsia generally begins anywhere after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This condition causes a rapid rise in the mother’s blood pressure as well as protein in her urine. Preeclampsia may cause:
- Multiple organ failures
- Death of the mother, baby or both
Obstetricians should carefully monitor their patients for potential signs of preeclampsia throughout their pregnancies. Regularly monitoring blood pressure and performing multiple readings several hours apart is one such way that doctors diagnose preeclampsia. There are also other tests that can be helpful, including ultrasounds, blood and urine tests.
Preeclampsia risk factors
While any woman can develop preeclampsia during pregnancy, there are certain factors that put some women at an elevated risk. For example, a woman is more likely to develop preeclampsia in her first pregnancy. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 also have a higher risk. Other risk factors include:
- Carrying multiple fetuses
- History of high blood pressure
- Family history of preeclampsia
Being at an increased risk for a condition as serious as preeclampsia can be a frightening experience. Obstetricians who take a proactive approach to treating their patients may be able to help put some of those worries at ease. Women who are at an increased risk may need additional screening throughout their pregnancies.
What happens after a failure to diagnose?
When a doctor fails to diagnose preeclampsia, the lives of the mother and baby are on the line. Birth injuries and even death are sadly not uncommon. Depending on the situation, mothers, fathers or other surviving family members can hold obstetricians who fail to diagnose preeclampsia responsible for their actions.
It is never good when a doctor fails to diagnose a serious medical condition. Victims in North Carolina often go on to suffer additional pain and suffering, as well as financial and emotional damages. Navigating recovery can be difficult without the right help, although potential compensation from successfully navigated medical malpractice claims is often helpful.