Ellen’s Story: Undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy lead to emergency surgery

Our client, who was left needing emergency surgery due to an ectopic pregnancy going undiagnosed, has settled her medical negligence claim against the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

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

Timeline of events

Autumn 2019

Following two positive at-home pregnancy tests, Ellen visited her GP practice as she wanted an abortion. She phoned the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and attended an appointment a few days later, where she reported right-side throbbing and shooting pain.

A vaginal scan was performed and Ellen’s pregnancy was calculated at over four weeks. Despite no yolk, sac or foetal pole being identified, a risk assessment was not carried out in accordance with BPAS’ own protocol. A rescan was booked for a week later, but this was cancelled and rearranged for the following week.

Two days before the scheduled rescan, Ellen attended A&E due to vaginal spotting, worsening abdominal pain and shoulder tip pain. An ultrasound scan was carried out, which identified a possible problem and a second scan was arranged for the following morning.

However, in the early hours of the morning, Ellen became haemodynamically-unstable and underwent an emergency laparotomy, which confirmed a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in the right fallopian tube. Due to extreme blood loss, Ellen was transferred to the intensive theatre unit and two blood transfusions were carried out.

How we helped Ellen’s case

Ellen contacted us and our medical negligence solicitor Meera Tailor assisted her throughout her claim. We instructed experts in obstetrics and gynaecology, and issued a letter of claim to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which admitted breach of duty.

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

A note from Meera Tailor

“There was a failure to perform a risk assessment when an intrauterine pregnancy could not be identified, a failure to note Ellen’s shooting and stabbing pains, and a failure to refer her to an obstetrics and gynaecology department in light of her symptoms.

“Had she been referred to the gynaecology department, an ultrasound would have revealed an empty uterus and subsequent HCG tests would have shown an ectopic pregnancy, which would have been treated with methotrexate – avoiding the tubal rupture, the need for an emergency laparotomy and blood transfusions.

“Ellen has been psychologically affected by the events. She experiences nightmares as a result, and was unable to get out of bed or carry out simply daily tasks for a period of time. She feels anxious, particularly surrounding falling pregnancy again, which has had an impact on her relationship and intimacy with her partner. She also experiences twinges and feels a numbness in her stomach.”

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.