Chantelle’s Story: Pregnancy misdiagnosed as ectopic

Our client, whose viable pregnancy was misdiagnosed as ectopic – leading to its medical termination – has settled her medical negligence claim against the defendant trust.

Our client has chosen to appear under the pseudonym “Chantelle” for this case study.

Timeline of events

Autumn 2018

After a referral from her GP due to right-side abdominal pain, Chantelle attended an early pregnancy assessment unit at the defendant trust. A pregnancy test came back positive.

The following day, Chantelle had ultrasound and the sonographer reported they could not find an intrauterine pregnancy and this was suggestive of a left ectopic pregnancy. Chantelle wanted a second opinion and scan. Her bloods were taken and she was advised to stay in hospital for further test results and a repeat scan.

The following morning, nursing notes reported that the registrar was unable to request a second scan and the radiology department was unaware that Chantelle was waiting for an ultrasound. Chantelle was then reviewed by a consultant, who discussed her options to treat the alleged ectopic pregnancy. Chantelle signed for medical management and, later that day, she was given methotrexate to terminate the pregnancy.

Over the course of the following week, Chantelle returned to the defendant trust for multiple BHCG tests, which showed increasing levels of HCG in the blood, but the levels should have been decreasing following a dose of methotrexate. She was re-scanned, with the ultrasound still showing an ectopic mass, and further increases in her HCG levels, so a second dose of methotrexate was administered.

A few days later, Chantelle returned due to period and rectal pain, as well as vomiting. She was given an urgent ultrasound, which showed there was no ectopic pregnancy.

How we helped Chantelle’s case

Believing the trust had “killed her baby”, Chantelle contacted Lime Solicitors and clinical negligence solicitor Meera Tailor assisted her throughout her claim. We instructed experts in obstetrics and gynaecology, and issued a letter of claim to the defendant trust, which admitted breach of duty due to the pregnancy being misdiagnosed.

We prepared a detailed schedule of loss in line with the expert evidence and quantified the case. An out-of-court settlement and apology were secured.

A note from Meera Tailor

“Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful, happy time for expectant mothers. Heartbreakingly, there are some cases where symptoms are misread and scans are misinterpreted, with a perfectly-viable pregnancy being diagnosed as an ectopic.

“In this case, there was a catalogue of failures, including not performing vaginal and pelvic examinations to check for signs of ectopic pregnancy or processing BHCG results. The language used to document the findings of the ultrasound scan was also incorrect – the report said the results were ‘suggestive of ectopic pregnancy’, when it should have been ‘pregnancy of unknown location’. The consultant’s decision-making during a consultant was based on this language, rather than Chantelle’s clinical condition and symptoms.

“Had the pregnancy been treated as a ‘pregnancy of unknown location’ and not an ectopic pregnancy, it would have been managed accordingly – avoiding multiple administrations of methotrexate and the psychological damage that comes with knowing a viable pregnancy was negligently terminated.”

Contact our medical negligence solicitors

Our specialist team of medical negligence solicitors has experience supporting people during missed or misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy claims. If you would like to discuss making a claim, please call us on 0808 164 0808 or request a call back and we will call you.