Medical Verdicts

Rupture attributed to delay in diagnosing ectopic pregnancy


Queens County (NY) Supreme Court

A 37-year-old woman presented to her Ob/Gyn complaining of bleeding. She reported positive results from a home pregnancy test, as well as a prior cystectomy on her left ovary and prior cesarean delivery.

The doctor confirmed the pregnancy with a urine pregnancy test and advised the patient to stay off her feet to avoid miscarriage. She was directed to return for a sonogram 9 days later.

Three days later, the patient returned complaining of severe abdominal pain and increased bleeding. She was diagnosed with a probable rupture and ectopic pregnancy and sent to a hospital, where she underwent a laparotomy with removal of the ruptured tube.

In suing, the patient argued that, given her medical history, the physician should have performed a ß-human chorionic gonadotropin pregnancy test and sonogram to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. The woman also noted that in phone calls informing her physician of her severe abdominal pain she was told to stay off her feet and take over-thecounter pain medication.

The doctor argued that prior to the rupture there was not enough time for serial ßhuman chorionic gonadotropin testing and that a sonogram would not necessarily reveal an ectopic pregnancy.

  • The case settled for $175,000.
The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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