New Jersey Attorneys Advocating for Victims of Failure to Diagnose or Treat Preeclampsia
Pregnancy is a beautiful time, a period of anticipation and preparation for the arrival of your child. However, it is also a time that requires significant medical attention and health monitoring, as conditions may arise in the mother or child that have serious repercussions if unidentified and untreated. Preeclampsia represents one such condition, arising in approximately 5 percent of all pregnancies with potentially life-threatening consequences for both the expectant mother and baby if the condition is left undetected. If obstetricians, hospitals, and other medical professionals fail to recognize and/or treat preeclampsia, you may have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit to hold them accountable for their negligence.
At Fronzuto Law Group, our seasoned personal injury attorneys represent victims of OB-GYN errors, hospital negligence, and other forms of medical malpractice across New Jersey. Recovering millions of dollars in damages for mothers and children who have suffered due to the negligence of medical professionals, we serve as unwavering supporters and aggressive advocates for our clients. By limiting the number of cases that we take on, our team is able to provide personalized attention and to develop the most effective strategies for achieving maximum compensation. Our commitment to each and every client is to guide, inform, and champion your cause. Contact our offices today at 973-435-4551 or toll free at 888-409-0816 for a free comprehensive case evaluation.
Preeclampsia: The Basics
Preeclampsia is a serious condition that involves periodic, rapid increases in blood pressure during pregnancy and the postpartum period (six weeks after delivery). If preeclampsia occurs during pregnancy, it is generally seen after 20 weeks gestation. The disorder encompasses two significant health concerns: hypertension and proteinuria, which refers to excessive protein in the urine.
If preeclampsia is left untreated, the results can be tragic, manifesting in organ damage or organ failure, stroke, seizures, and even death of the mother and/or child. In fact, preeclampsia is associated with between 10 and 15 percent of maternal mortality cases internationally. It is also among the leading causes of maternal mortality in the United States.
While there is no single known cause of preeclampsia, there are several potential influences related to the woman’s genetics or overall immune system. The leading perspective among the medical community is that the condition correlates with placental development problems, specifically, abnormally narrow blood vessels that limit blood flow. This may be attributed to immune system deficiencies, damaged blood vessels, inadequate blood delivery to the uterus, or a genetic predisposition.
Risk Factors for Preeclampsia
There are a host of factors that may increase the likelihood of a woman developing preeclampsia, some of the most common of which include:
- If it is the woman’s first pregnancy
- If the woman is pregnant with twins, triplets, or multiple babies
- If the woman is obese or has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more
- If the woman is over the age of 40
- If the woman is under the age of 18
- If the woman or her family has a history of preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is the most frequently occurring among pregnancy complications, so doctors should remain acutely aware of the potential risk factors and properly diagnose the condition when it affects their pregnant patients.
Identifying and Treating Preeclampsia
Monitoring a woman’s blood pressure and performing regular urine tests are essential steps to detecting preeclampsia. Typically, a blood pressure reading that exceeds 140/90 mmHg and/or a urine sample with greater than 0.3 grams of protein is considered grounds for a preeclampsia diagnosis. Other symptoms which may indicate preeclampsia include: swelling (edema), abdominal pain, shoulder pain, lower back pain, migraines, nausea or vomiting, changes in vision, sudden weight gain, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. It is important to note, however, that some cases of preeclampsia present with no symptoms at all, making it all the more critical for obstetricians to diligently monitor potential indicators through regular check-ups and testing.
If a woman is diagnosed with preeclampsia, her obstetrician or treating physician must immediately devise an appropriate treatment plan. Often, expectant mothers with preeclampsia are required to remain hospitalized for consistent monitoring, or to remain on bed rest until delivery. In other cases, blood pressure medication may be prescribed and accompanied by regular blood pressure testing (at least four times daily). Blood pressure medication may be supplemented by a magnesium sulfate drip to prevent eclampsia and other complications. As for delivery, some cases may simply require an induced labor that proceeds naturally, while others cases may require a cesarean delivery to ensure the safety of both mother and child.
It is important to note that preeclampsia can also occur after delivery, which is referred to as postpartum preeclampsia. As is the case with typical preeclampsia, high blood pressure and elevated protein levels in the urine are the primary indicators. If a woman is experiencing high blood pressure in the days or weeks after giving birth, it is extremely important for doctors to recognize and address the situation immediately. Providing medication to reduce blood pressure and lower the likelihood of other serious complications, such as seizures, is vital.
Complications from Preeclampsia
There are a host of dangerous complications that may arise from undiagnosed, untreated, or mishandled preeclampsia. In the worst cases, missing a preeclampsia diagnosis can be fatal. Among the many serious complications that may result from preeclampsia, some of the leading types include:
- Eclampsia: occurs when preeclampsia leads to seizures. This condition manifests in approximately 0.5% of preeclampsia cases. In addition to causing seizures, loss of consciousness, and death for the mother, eclampsia can deprive the baby of necessary oxygen and nutrients, leading to brain damage and other serious birth injuries.
- HELLP syndrome: refers to a combination of hemolysis (breaking down of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. Since the condition can be deadly, it must be addressed as soon as possible. This generally involves delivery of the baby and may also necessitate transfusions for the mother.
- Placental abruption: occurs when the placenta becomes separated from the uterine wall. This condition may result in excessive bleeding and shock for the mother, as well as oxygen deprivation and resulting brain damage (hypoxic brain injury) for the child. It also has the potential to cause death for both parties.
- Restricted blood flow to the placenta: insufficient supply of blood to the placenta can deprive the baby of essential nutrients and oxygen. The consequences of this can be dire, including hindered fetal growth, premature birth, and respiratory problems.
Contact our NJ Preeclampsia Malpractice Attorneys for Answers
When you are expecting a child, you place your trust, your life, and the life of your child in your doctor’s hands. When these medical professionals fail to provide the adequate standard of care, the results can be devastating. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as a result of a doctor’s failure to diagnose or treat preeclampsia, contact Fronzuto Law Group today to learn about your legal options. One of our skilled New Jersey preeclampsia malpractice lawyers is standing by to assist you. Please call 973-435-4551 for a free consultation or contact us online for further assistance.