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Failure to diagnose pre-eclampsia at center of medical malpractice lawsuit

Last month, a jury in Montgomery County awarded $6 million to the husband of a woman who died in 2009 shortly after an emergency C-Section. According to the complaint, physicians and hospital staff caring for the woman failed to diagnose her with pre-eclampsia and eclampsia during the course of her pregnancy, thereby putting her life at risk.   

Sources aren't entirely clear about the facts of the case, though it sounds like there may have been poor communication with hospital staff or lack of follow through in treating her condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, pre-eclampsia is a condition which a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and typically damage to the kidneys. If left untreated, pre-eclampsia can lead to serious pregnancy complications, and sometimes fatality. 

Pre-eclampsia affects somewhere between five and eight percent of pregnancies worldwide, though most cases are rather mild. In some cases, the condition can get worse very quickly. Traditionally, pre-eclampsia is diagnosed after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Some of the signs of pre-eclampsia include excess protein in a woman's urine, low platelet count, impaired liver function, other signs of kidney trouble, fluid in the lungs, a headaches and visual disturbances.

The earlier a pre-eclampsia diagnosis can be secured, the better the condition can be addressed. Medications can help lower blood pressure, improve liver and platelet function, and prevent seizures. Early diagnosis can also help prepare everybody for the possibility of early delivery should that become necessary. Obstetricians and gynecologists, of course, have the duty to carefully screen their patients for pre-eclampsia and other potentially serious conditions that could complicate pregnancy. When they fail to do so, they can and should be held accountable.

Sources:

Wdtn.com, "Jury awards $6 million in Dayton malpractice suit," May 20, 2016.

Foxnews.com, "Simple test offers quick diagnosis of potentially deadly prenatal condition," Nicole Kwan, Feb. 4, 2016.

Mayo Clinic, "Diseases and Conditions: Preeclampsia," Accessed June 13, 2016. 

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