Failure to Diagnose or Treat Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy induced condition characterized by high blood pressure which generally develops late in pregnancy (after week 20). An estimated 8-10% of pregnant women are diagnosed with preeclampsia during pregnancy.   If not properly diagnosed and treated, preeclampsia can lead to life threatening illness in both the mother and her unborn baby.  Below we discuss the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, medical treatment, as well as what you should do if you suspect you may have experienced signs of preeclampsia during your pregnancy which were not properly diagnosed and treated, and which may have caused injury to yourself or your baby.

Preeclampsia is typically characterized by an increase in blood pressure during pregnancy.  For that reason careful monitoring and documenting of blood pressure is an important part of every pregnant woman’s prenatal care.  There are other signs and symptoms of preeclampsia which are also important to be aware of.   These may include:

  • Severe headaches;
  • Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity;
  • Upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side
  • Nausea or vomiting;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Rapid pulse;
  • Sudden excessive weight gain
  • Severe swelling (edema) — particularly in your face and hands;
  • Decreased urine output;
  • Decreased levels of platelets in your blood;
  • Impaired liver function; and/or
  • Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria) or additional signs of kidney problems.

If you have any of these signs or symptoms of preeclampsia, you will require careful medical assessment and observation and may require medical testing such as:

  • blood tests to determine how well your liver and kidneys are functioning, as well as your platelet count;
  • urine analysis to measure the level of protein in your urine;
  • fetal ultrasound to monitor your baby’s growth and amniotic fluid volume;
  • non-stress test  to monitor your baby’s heart rate; and/or
  • a biophysical profile which combines a non-stress test with a fetal ultrasound to provide more information about your baby’s breathing, tone, movement and the volume of amniotic fluid.

The treatment for preeclamspia may include medication such as anti-hypertensives, corticosteroids or anticonvulsant medication, as well as bedrest, hospitalization and early delivery of your baby, either by induction or caesarian section.

If you feel that you may have experienced symptoms of preeclampsia during your pregnancy which were not properly diagnosed and/or not properly treated, resulting in injury to your baby, please call us for a free consultation with an experienced BILA lawyer.  We will review the circumstances of your pregnancy and advise you whether or not your baby’s injury may have been avoided with appropriate medical care, and whether or not your child is entitled to compensation for his or her injuries.