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Woman with ectopic pregnancy sent home from hospital

Young woman settles medical negligence claim against Bradford Hospital

Posted on 07 September 2016

On 8 September 2012 Ms R, who was pregnant, presented at Calderdale Hospital Accident and Emergency department with acute abdominal pain and bleeding. She was prescribed pain relief and discharged home.

Five days later Ms R attended Bradford Hospital and underwent an ultrasound scan. She was advised there was no pregnancy visible in the uterus and was told that she had either suffered a miscarriage or had an ectopic pregnancy. No blood tests were taken to exclude the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, and she was advised to return to the hospital two weeks later for another scan. No further advice was given to Ms R.

Ms R continued to suffer pain and bleeding.

When she returned to Bradford Hospital a routine scan confirmed an ectopic pregnancy and she required emergency surgery during which one of her fallopian tubes was removed. She was only 24 years old at that time.

When Ms R first complained of the failure to diagnose her ectopic pregnancy earlier she was told by Bradford Hospital that “it appears all the clinical care and advice given was appropriate and of a good standard.”

However, Ms R remained concerned about the care she had received which had led her having her fallopian tube removed and had raised concerns about her future fertility.

Ms R instructed the medical negligence team at Leigh Day to investigate her claim.  

Leigh Day obtained advice from an independent expert gynaecologist and put a case to the Defendant Trust that Ms R’s ectopic pregnancy should have been suspected earlier and excluded or treated.

We alleged that with proper care Ms R could have been treated with tablets, rather than requiring surgery, and could have avoided the need for removal of her fallopian tube.

After further negotiations Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability in full.  Settlement was reached without the need to issue Court proceedings. 

Ms R was compensated for her unnecessary pain and suffering and removal of her tube, as well as the expenses she had incurred and was likely to incur into the future, including the possible costs of fertility treatment.

Ms R’s case was dealt with by specialist medical negligence solicitors, Nicola Wainwright and Katherine Sirrell, at Leigh Day.

Katherine said:

“Ms R approached us because she felt that her complaint to Bradford Hospital hadn’t given her the answers she was seeking. It was only by instructing solicitors, who obtained independent expert evidence, that she was able to find out the truth about what happened and receive confirmation of what she had suspected - that opportunities to treat her that were missed.”

Nicola Wainwright, partner in the medical negligence team at Leigh Day, said:

“When Ms R approached us I was saddened to hear about yet another case of a young pregnant woman attending hospital with abdominal pain and bleeding and being sent home without anyone taking steps to ensure that she was not suffering an ectopic pregnancy.  Ectopic pregnancy is potentially life threatening and should be taken more seriously.

"All it usually takes to check for an ectopic is basic monitoring by way of scans and blood tests and yet I see client after client for whom this is not done and who suffers unnecessary injuries as a result.

"Ms R has naturally been left incredibly distressed by her injuries and loss, which could have been avoided with basic reasonable care.”