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Settlement for client following missed ectopic pregnancy

Failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancy results in payout for woman

4 July 2014

A woman who had to undergo emergency lifesaving surgery when doctors at Croydon University Hospital did not diagnose her ectopic pregnancy has secured compensation from Croydon Health Services NHS Trust.

In January 2010 Ms M attended Accident and Emergency at Croydon University Hospital complaining of severe abdominal pain on her left side.

She was 5 weeks pregnant and feared an ectopic pregnancy. The A&E doctor told her it was too early to be an ectopic pregnancy and referred her to the on-site duty GP.

However, this decision contravened the Hospital’s own guidance for treatment of women with abdominal pain and bleeding in early pregnancy.

Ms M saw the GP later that day and was told again that it was too early to be an ectopic pregnancy. The GP advised that her abdominal pain was probably due to a urinary tract infection and prescribed antibiotics.

On 20 February 2010, in the early hours of the morning, Ms M experienced sharp, stabbing abdominal pain and bleeding.

She attended the Early Pregnancy Unit at St George’s Hospital and doctors diagnosed a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. Ms M had extensive intra-abdominal bleeding, which required emergency surgery and removal of her fallopian tube.

Ms M went on to develop an incisional hernia from the site of her operation, which necessitated further repair surgery in July 2011.

Ms M instructed lawyers in the clinical negligence team at Leigh Day to pursue a claim in respect of the failure of doctors to consider the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy and refer her for urgent investigation.

Leigh Day obtained expert medical evidence which advised that had Ms M received competent treatment in January 2010, she would have undergone an ultrasound scan which would have diagnosed the ectopic pregnancy, which could have been treated non-surgically. Ms M would not have suffered a ruptured fallopian tube and would not have had to undergo emergency lifesaving surgery.

Following Leigh Day’s investigation, The Hospital Trust admitted liability for Ms M’s injuries and a settlement was agreed without the need to issue Court proceedings.

Angharad Vaughan, solicitor in the medical negligence team at Leigh Day, who secured compensation for Ms M, said:

“This was an extremely traumatic experience for my client who not only suffered agonising pain but required emergency, life saving, surgery for something which should have been diagnosed much earlier.

“Hospital policies are designed to protect patients and to ensure that people with potentially life-threatening conditions are treated promptly. In this case, had the hospital followed its own guidance, Ms M would never have been sent away from A&E. She would have been treated without delay and her outcome would have been much better.”

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