Understanding Pre-Eclampsia: Why a Failure to Diagnose Can Lead To Severe Injuries

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pregnancyPregnancy is a time of both great excitement and extraordinary stress. Mothers worry about everything that is happening to their body and their baby, and take great pains to address any abnormality which could be affecting the health of their child.

Unfortunately, even these efforts don’t always ensure a complication-free pregnancy. Mothers who develop preeclampsia during their pregnancy are at risk of not only losing their baby, but of losing their own lives. When a doctor fails to catch this disease in time, the results can be tragic.

Understanding Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a condition which can develop in any mother after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The disease is characterized by high blood pressure, which leads to increased protein in the urine. In the mother, the elevated protein can cause brain injuries, impair kidney and liver function, result in pulmonary edema, and cause blood clots and seizures. If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to death.

In the fetus, high blood pressure affects the amount of blood going to the placenta, which can lead to undersized or premature babies. Untreated preeclampsia can also result in death to the fetus if not corrected.

There is no cure for preeclampsia except for delivery of the baby, though mild cases can be managed if caught in time.  The mother may be given hypertension medications to manage her blood pressure, or may need to be induced if the risk to mother and child is too great. In these cases, the mother may be given steroids to try and grow the baby’s lungs prior to a premature delivery.

Delayed Diagnosis Is Deadly

The key to correcting preeclampsia is catching the condition before it progresses too far. This is one of the reasons why regular prenatal doctor visits are so important—the doctor will measure a mother’s blood pressure and check for any increase.

Regular visits to the doctor may not be enough, however. Preeclampsia can develop suddenly and without warning, and should be treated as a medical emergency. Though the condition is serious, many women are dismissed by their doctors because the symptoms of preeclampsia can mimic those of regular pregnancy. Symptoms like headaches, vision changes, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and shortness of breath can be mistaken for much less serious conditions like a virus or a cold.

When a doctor fails to recognize the symptoms of preeclampsia or check a woman’s blood pressure, a minor medical crisis can escalate into an extreme emergency. Once a woman has been diagnosed with preeclampsia, she needs to be under a supervised plan to manage her health and the health of her baby. She should be under surveillance by her doctor and/or hospital, and her blood pressure should be checked several times a day. In severe cases, a mother should be admitted immediately and treatment should be administered to lower the blood pressure or prepare for birth.

When not enough is done to prevent injury to the mother or baby, the doctor and the hospital staff may be liable for medical malpractice. If you or your loved one suffered an injury after being diagnosed with preeclampsia, or preeclampsia went undiagnosed and caused harm, you may be able to file a lawsuit which will hold those responsible liable for the injuries you suffered.

At the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., our attorneys help people injured by missed or delayed diagnoses. If you were injured by medical negligence or malpractice, our experienced staff of legal and medical professionals can evaluate your case and help you understand your rights. If you would like to speak with a knowledgeable Los Angeles injury attorney, contact Bradley I. Kramer today by calling (310) 289-2600 or use our online case evaluation form to have your claim reviewed for free.

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