Ectopic Pregnancy Claims

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes. This is known as a tubal pregnancy.

Laura Reaney

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Initially, the egg may start to grow normally. However, the fallopian tubes are not the natural home for a fertilised egg.

When an egg becomes trapped, there is a risk of the growing embryo rupturing the tube, causing severe internal bleeding. On average, there are two deaths every year in the UK and Eire from ectopic pregnancies.

Around 1 in 90 pregnancies are ectopic in the UK. This equates to around 11,000 cases every year.

No ectopic pregnancy should ever get to the stage where the expectant mother is put at risk. Sadly, an ectopic pregnancy cannot be saved, so the priority for healthcare professionals is to ensure prompt treatment, in the form of 'expectant management' or 'medical management', rather than surgical intervention to achieve a safe outcome.

Medical negligence occurs when doctors misdiagnose or fail to diagnose ectopic pregnancy. In either case, the result usually causes a delay in treatment and may lead to internal bleeding and/or rupture of the fallopian tube.

Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis can lead to a need for surgery that wouldn't otherwise have been necessary.

Should you or a member of your family have suffered due to a delayed or misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, you may be able to make a clinical negligence claim to recover compensation for the pain, injury, and loss you have suffered.

Call Spencers Solicitors on 08000 93 00 94 for a confidential, and no-obligation chat with a member of our experienced medical negligence team about the possibilities of claiming compensation. In most cases, we can handle ectopic pregnancy compensation claims by using No Win No Fee agreements.

What causes an ectopic pregnancy?

There is no one cause of ectopic pregnancies; even in specific cases, the causes may be uncertain. However, the following can increase the risk:

  • Having had a previous ectopic pregnancy
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease; often caused by sexually transmitted infections
  • Fertility treatments such as IVF
  • Previous surgery on the fallopian tubes
  • Becoming pregnant despite the use of IUD or IUS contraception
  • Age - the risk is higher in women over 35
  • Smoking

What are the symptoms of ectopic pregnancy?

Initially, an ectopic pregnancy will present itself in the same manner as a normal healthy pregnancy. Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy come to light between four and twelve weeks into the pregnancy. Problems may come to light with an early scan or when some or more of the symptoms described below are present:

  1. Vaginal bleeding which is different to that experienced during a normal period, i.e., watery and darker in appearance.
  2. Stomach pain.
  3. Discomfort when going to the toilet sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea.
  4. Shoulder tip pain; a common symptom of ectopic pregnancies that is often not recognised as such by the victim because of where the pain occurs. The pain is caused by internal bleeding which leaks into the abdomen.
  5. Pelvic pain, particularly down one side of the body.
  6. Constantly feeling nauseous.
  7. Dizziness and feeling faint.

If the following symptoms appear, urgent medical assistance is required:

  1. Severe, sharp stomach pains
  2. Extreme dizziness
  3. Looking exceptionally pale
  4. Feeling sick

A combination of these symptoms may indicate the fallopian tube has ruptured.

What should doctors do when a patient presents with ectopic pregnancy symptoms?

The symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy are also the symptoms of other much less severe conditions, which is sometimes why medical misdiagnosis occurs. Not all patients can articulate the different symptoms they are experiencing. When a patient experiences abdominal pain in the early stages of pregnancy, it is vitally important that doctors carry out tests to exclude the possibility of ectopic pregnancy.

Doctors should give patients with symptoms urine tests, a pelvic examination and an ultrasound scan. If the scan reveals a pregnancy of unknown location (PUL), HCG and progesterone blood tests are needed too.

A competent doctor will also investigate whether the patient has a higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.

What is the treatment for an ectopic pregnancy?

Early diagnosis enables the ectopic pregnancy to be treated without resorting to surgery.

  • Medical management usually involves using a drug called methotrexate, administered by injection, which stops the pregnancy from progressing. Careful monitoring is required after the drug has been administered.
  • Expectant management is another kind of treatment available in some cases, when ectopic pregnancy gets diagnosed early. For some patients who have gone through an assessment and whose pregnancy hormone levels are satisfactory, an ectopic pregnancy may end naturally, without medication or surgery. Expectant management is;

    "Watchful waiting or close monitoring by medical professionals instead of immediate treatment."
  • Surgery is required if the fallopian tube has already ruptured. This invasive type of surgery usually involves keyhole surgery to remove the pregnancy and the damaged fallopian tube.

When may there be a case for bringing an ectopic pregnancy negligence claim?

Doctors treating possible ectopic pregnancy patients owe them a duty of care. The duty is to provide patients with the standard of care at a level that could be reasonably expected of a competent doctor or other suitably qualified healthcare professionals in the appropriate field of medicine.

When doctors provide care and treatment that falls below the required standard, they have breached their duty of care to their patients.

To succeed with a negligence claim, you must prove:

  • There has been a breach of duty of care by the doctor, and
  • Any compensation for injury and loss you wish to claim must have been sustained or incurred as a direct consequence of the doctor's negligence.

In the case of ectopic pregnancy negligence claims, if you suffered harm due to medical negligence and had to undergo surgery when otherwise medical management would have been a treatment option, you may have a potential compensation claim. In other words, to bring a successful ectopic pregnancy medical negligence claim, you will need to prove that your condition has been made worse as a result of the negligent medical care you received

What might constitute ectopic pregnancy negligence by a doctor?

  • When medical professionals fail to recognise symptoms as ectopic pregnancy, or they pass the symptoms off as being signs of a less severe condition.
  • Misdiagnosis of the ectopic pregnancy as a miscarriage
  • Misinterpretation of the results of a pregnancy scan as showing a healthy pregnancy (when it is ectopic)
  • Failure to perform the correct tests
  • Misinterpretation of test results
  • Errors made during surgery, e.g., removing the wrong fallopian tube
  • Incomplete surgery
  • Inadequate follow-up monitoring of ectopic pregnancy patients, which leads to complications

What type of compensation can I claim for in an ectopic pregnancy medical negligence claim?

Your claim may consist of:

  • Damages for the injury and loss suffered. This includes any damages for psychological injuries as well as physical injuries.
  • You might need further treatment or care due to the medical errors made by NHS medical professionals but want to use the services of a private hospital to provide any other treatment. You are entitled to recover the cost of private healthcare for this purpose.
  • You can claim for any loss of earnings you have suffered from taking time off work whilst undergoing examinations, treatment and rehabilitation that became necessary because of the mistakes made by your healthcare professionals.

You may have incurred or will incur other losses specific to your claim. Provided the losses are necessary and reasonable in the amounts claimed, you should be able to recover them. Your medical negligence solicitor will be able to give you further advice on what you can claim.

How do I start an ectopic pregnancy negligence claim?

Contact Spencers Solicitors medical negligence team on 08000 93 00 94. Our expert medical negligence lawyers will handle your compensation claim with skill, care and empathy.

Get in touch with us to make an appointment for a telephone call with one of our medical negligence experts. There will be no strings attached - you can tell us what has happened, what you are going through and what your doctors have told you will happen moving forwards.

We'll listen to everything you say and offer our advice on whether we think you have reasonable prospects of bringing a successful ectopic pregnancy claim. If we believe you have a feasible claim, then you can decide whether you want us to take on your claim or not.

We will be delighted should you choose Spencers Solicitors to handle your claim. We will work tirelessly to repay the trust you have shown in us and to bring your clinical negligence claim to a successful conclusion. Our ectopic pregnancy claim experts approach their work with discretion and compassion.

Can I make a No Win No Fee ectopic pregnancy negligence?

A Conditional Fee Arrangement (CFA) is the usual way we fund medical negligence claims for our clients.

CFAs are also known as No Win No Fee agreements. In most cases, we handle ectopic pregnancy claims using No Win No Fee arrangements.

With a No Win No Fee claim, you will have nothing to pay upfront, and if your claim doesn't succeed, there will be nothing to pay, at all.

If you win your case, the Defendant of the claim (usually the NHS in ectopic pregnancy negligence claims) will pay you compensation and legal fees. You will pay us a success fee out of the compensation we recover for you. The amount of the success fee will not exceed 25% of the damages recovered for pain and suffering and past losses.

Before you enter into a No Win No Fee agreement, we will fully explain how the arrangement works.

In addition, we will advise you on taking out After the Event (ATE) insurance to cover any outstanding expenses such as the cost of medical reports or court fees, in the event your claim is unsuccessful.

Are there any time limits for bringing an ectopic pregnancy negligence claim?

In most cases, there is a three-year 'limitation period' to start a clinical negligence claim. This period runs from the date of the negligence, or the date of knowledge, i.e., when you became aware of the negligence.

If you or a loved one think you have suffered injury and loss as a result of ectopic pregnancy medical negligence, contact Spencers Solicitors now for legal advice and guidance on 08000 93 00 94.

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