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If you have had an ectopic pregnancy misdiagnosed as a cyst, an appendicitis, or perhaps a doctor has missed it altogether, you may be able to make a misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy claim and seek compensation.

Below, we outline the basic science behind an ectopic pregnancy and explain how to make a claim, should you choose to proceed.


What Is an Ectopic Pregnancy?

An ectopic pregnancy is when the baby develops outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. According to the NHS, around 1 in every 90 UK pregnancies is ectopic. This is around 11,000 pregnancies a year.

An ectopic pregnancy is one of the most serious dangers women face in early pregnancy and requires immediate treatment. It is therefore vital you seek emergency medical help if you experience any signs or symptoms early on.

If a doctor does not diagnose or treat quickly, this type of pregnancy will cause serious health complications and even have an impact on a woman’s chances of getting pregnant in the future.  


Can I Make A Claim If I Have Been Misdiagnosed?

Misdiagnosis can also take the form of incorrect and/or inappropriate treatment (false negative misdiagnosis), causing serious harm to both the mother and healthy baby.

If either of these situations occurred, you might be able to file a claim against your doctor and others who were responsible.


What Are the Key Signs to Look Out For?

An ectopic pregnancy doesn't always cause symptoms and may only be detected during a routine pregnancy scan. However, if you do have symptoms, they tend to develop between the 4th and 12th week of pregnancy.

These can include a combination of:

  • Missed periods
  • Severe abdominal or pelvic pain - You may experience tummy pain, typically low down on one side. It can develop suddenly or gradually, and may be persistent or come and go.
  • Shoulder tip pain - Shoulder tip pain is an unusual pain felt where your shoulder ends and your arm begins.
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding - Vaginal bleeding tends to be a bit different to your regular period. It often starts and stops, and may be watery and dark brown in colour.
  • Extreme light headedness or fainting - When you faint, you'll feel weak and unsteady before passing out for a short period of time, usually only a few seconds.


Why Are They Often Missed?

As mentioned previously, there are two types of misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy:


  1. False Negative Misdiagnosis

This is when a doctor wrongly diagnoses that an ectopic pregnancy is absent.

The difficulty in diagnosing ectopic pregnancy is that the symptoms can be generic. The main symptoms, such as missed periods or abdominal pain, aren’t necessarily a sign of a serious problem. The bleeding and pain could be due to something else entirely, such as an ovarian cyst or appendicitis.

By the time a woman experiences symptoms of very extreme abdominal pain and fainting, it is possible that the ectopic pregnancy has already ruptured. This can be extremely dangerous and may result in internal bleeding which can be fatal.  

In some cases, an ectopic pregnancy won’t show any symptoms and may only be detected further down the line during a routine pregnancy scan.


  1. False Positive Misdiagnosis

This is when a doctor wrongly diagnoses that an ectopic pregnancy is present.

While doctors have successfully worked hard to reduce the number of false negative misdiagnoses, they have created an epidemic of false positives. This can be as tragic, if not more so, than a false negative.

A false positive misdiagnosis can be just as dangerous as a false negative due to the treatment. The normal treatment of an early detection is to administer methotrexate. This will cause the body to reabsorb an early-stage ectopic pregnancy; however, can have a similar impact on a healthy pregnancy. It may cause a woman to miscarry her healthy child or cause serious birth defects.


How Much Compensation Could I Get?

Ectopic pregnancy settlements vary from case to case. The below provides an example of a previous case:

S v Betsi Cadwaladwr University Health Board

This claim arose out of a failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy, as a result of a delay in performing required blood tests. Consequently, the patient collapsed and suffered extensive haemorrhaging requiring multiple blood transfusions and surgery to remove one fallopian tube (Salpingectomy/Salpingo-oophorectomy).

Fortunately, the claimant’s fertility was not impacted; however, damages were still awarded in the region of £15,000 for the pain and suffering caused.


How to Make A Claim

If you have suffered complications and would like to learn more about ectopic pregnancy misdiagnosis claims, please get in touch with our medical negligence solicitors to find out if you have a case for compensation. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.

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