Failure to Diagnose or Treat Placental Abruption

Placental abruption is a devastating complication of pregnancy for both the pregnant patient and the fetus. Doctors and healthcare providers, including emergency medicine doctors, need to recognize the signs and symptoms of placental abruption. Immediate diagnosis and treatment of placental abruption can mean the difference between life and death for both the fetus and the pregnant person.

What is placental abruption?

The placenta Is a structure that develops between the uterus and the fetus during pregnancy. The placenta helps to exchange oxygen, carbon dioxide and other nutrients between the pregnant patient and the fetus.

Placental abruption occurs when blood vessels in the placenta rupture. Bleeding from the ruptured blood vessels causes partial or complete separation of the placenta from the uterus. When this separation occurs, the fetus may not get enough oxygenated blood its tissues and organs need to survive in the womb. Just as concerning, the pregnant patient can develop bleeding through the cervix and vagina. Acute hemorrhage from placental abruption Is a terrible threat to the life of both the pregnant person and their unborn child.

How does medical malpractice involving placental abruption occur?

Doctors and other health care providers should be concerned about placental abruption when the pregnant patient complains of vaginal bleeding, abdominal or back pain, or the sudden onset of frequent uterine contractions. Uterine tenderness or rigidity is another sign which should make doctors concerned about placental abruption.

Medical malpractice involving the failure to diagnose placental abruption usually involves one or all of the following three medical errors:

  1. The failure to recognize the warning signs of placental abruption;
  2. The failure to assure immediate evaluation of the pregnant person and their fetus in the setting of signs or symptoms of placental abruption; and/or,
  3. The failure to perform an emergency C-section

As with most medical malpractice lawsuits, proof of medical negligence is based on the nursing and physician notes recorded in the medical records for both the pregnant patient and the baby. However, in a case involving the delayed diagnosis of placental abruption, proof of fault may also come from records of phone calls, texts, or Emails between a patient and their obstetrician’s office. The lawyers of Lupetin and Unatin can help secure notes about phone calls, Email messages, and medical records necessary to prove which symptoms were reported to doctors and when.

Sometimes doctors, nurses or physician assistants mistake the symptoms of placental abruption as signs of normal labor. Regrettably, these health care providers might dismiss a pregnant person’s concerns about abdominal pain or contractions. A doctor or nurse may give the pregnant patient or their close family member a false sense of comfort that their symptoms are part of the normal course of labor. This is why it’s critical doctors, nurses and physician assistants who manage pregnancies have a low threshold for telling a patient to go to the hospital for evaluation.

Communication is critical to avoid delay in treating placental abruption

Health care providers should assure patients with suspected placental abruption are evaluated in a hospital with an obstetrics unit and neonatal intensive care unit. Sometimes this requires pregnant patients be transferred from rural hospitals or doctors’ offices to hospitals in larger towns or cities. Hospitals with NICU departments have medical specialists on hand who are most capable of caring both for the newborn born with serious complications related to placental abruption.

And when it comes to an emergency like placental abruption, clear communication between the obstetrician’s office, the hospital, and sometimes emergency medicine services can mean the difference between life and death. If a doctor or nurse at a transferring hospital doesn’t notify the receiving hospital to expect a patient with symptoms of placental abruption, evaluation of the patient may be needlessly delayed.

If your family experienced a placental abruption during pregnancy and you feel the diagnosis was missed or mismanaged, you may be entitled to recover monetary damages for the harm to your baby. Contact Lupetin and Unatin and let us listen to your story. We will answer as many of your questions as we can and help you determine whether a lawsuit for medical malpractice is warranted.