How to Recognize Failure to Diagnose During Pregnancy

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Throughout pregnancy and childbirth, the mother and infant’s health depend on the knowledge and care provided by medical staff.

Medical providers are supposed to have the experience, training, and knowledge necessary to properly care for the mother and the infant, yet some issues may go unnoticed, and mistakes can be made.

Sometimes these are minor errors, but other times, an issue may not get diagnosed, and it can lead to significant and potentially life-threatening complications.

What Is a Failure to Diagnose?

A failure to diagnose occurs when a medical provider does not accurately detect and diagnose a medical condition which could have reasonably been treated.

A medical provider can fail to diagnose a condition when he or she completely misses the condition or provides the wrong diagnosis. Failing to diagnose a medical condition during pregnancy and childbirth can result in catastrophic birth injuries, which is a form of medical malpractice.

Just because there is a failure to diagnose a particular condition does not guarantee that there is medical malpractice. For there to be medical malpractice, the patient must have a physician-patient relationship with the healthcare provider AND there must be damages or injuries that result from the failure.  In other words, your physician’s failure to diagnose must be a “substantial factor” in causing the injuries suffered by you or your baby. The harm must come directly from the condition that the doctor failed to diagnose.

Examples of Failure to Diagnose During Pregnancy

  • Failure to detect and monitor infections
  • Failure to detect and monitor gestational diabetes
  • Failure to thoroughly review the mother’s medical history
  • Failure to conduct a proper physical exam of the mother
  • Failure to perform applicable tests and screenings
  • Failure to detect fetal distress
  • Failure to detect and diagnose a breech birth
  • Failure to diagnose when a baby is too large for a regular delivery
  • Failure to accurately diagnose and treat an infant’s potential health problems
  • Failure to detect and diagnose then treat preeclampsia
  • Failure to recognize fetal distress
  • Failure to timely recommend c-section
  • Failure to use appropriate technique during delivery

Consequences of Failure to Diagnose During Pregnancy

Failing to diagnose medical conditions during pregnancy can have a wide variety of outcomes. As an example, undiagnosed jaundice in infants, especially when it is severe enough to cause a condition called kernicterus, can result in hearing loss, cerebral palsy, or brain damage. A mother with an undiagnosed or untreated infection, such as placental infection, can result in the fetus being deprived of oxygen, cognitive disabilities in the infant, or even death of the fetus or newborn.

Other possible consequences of failing to diagnose during pregnancy include Erb’s palsy, Brachial plexus injuries, infant stroke, nerve damage to the infant, permanent physical injuries, reduced blood flow to the infant, developmental delays, and other conditions, many of which will require surgical procedures and continuing medical care.

Get Help From a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or your child were injured because of the failure of a healthcare provider to diagnose a medical condition during pregnancy, consult with a Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney. As licensed and experienced birth injury attorneys, we understand how to recognize and prove your medical malpractice case.

Contact the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., at (310) 289-2600 to schedule your free case review.

Questions? Contact us

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