Sent Home from the Hospital with Preeclampsia

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Posted on Aug 08, 2017


Pregnant women should be familiar with preeclampsia: it is a condition that you probably won't recognize because, at least at first, it usually doesn't have symptoms you can feel. But hospitals and obstetricians should be monitoring you for it.  According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, Preeclampsia is a disorder that occurs only during pregnancy and the postpartum period and affects both the mother and the unborn baby.

Typically occurring after 20 weeks of gestation, the condition is characterized by hypertension (high blood pressure) and proteinuria (protein in the urine). Both of these signs should be detected through routine prenatal care. They are easy to detect and monitored with the appropriate tests such as taking the patient's blood pressure and administering a simple urine test. Other indicators may be edema (swelling), headaches, nausea/vomiting, and back and shoulder pain. For a full list of symptoms click here.

NPR News reported on 27 year-old Marie McCausland; "I had just come home with the baby and really didn't want to go back to the hospital. I think I probably would have just wrote it off." In that case, she said, "I don't know if I'd be here. I really don't."

Left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia and can sometimes be fatal. These women found that proper medical oversight should have detected their preeclampsia. One woman had even been sent home untreated and had to come back to the hospital for emergency treatment.

Because preeclampsia is a known complication of pregnancy,  hospitals and doctors should be able to monitor and diagnose it, especially when the patient develops symptoms.  With simple testing and a simple checklist to follow at pre-and post-natal visits as well as in the hospital, providers should catch any worrisome symptoms in plenty of time for treatment.

At Donahoe Kearney we help moms and babies with medical conditions and injuries at birth that should have been prevented by proper medical care.   

 Hospitals, HMOs and doctors offices should all have systems to keep patients safe -

and there are well established patient safety rules for diagnosing, treating and monitoring serious medical conditions like preeclampsia.   

All D.C. hospitals and all hospitals in the D.C. area should follow these rules. Why don't they?

In our medical malpractice cases against hospitals, we've discovered this may be simply because a doctor is rushing through an exam, or doesn't properly refer someone to a specialist. Additionally when a provider doesn't follow up on a test result, or the hospital loses the test result and doesn't repeat the test, medical mistakes are made.   And these mistakes can, often times, be prevented by following a simple checklist. Something as simple as heavy workloads can result in high numbers of hospital errors.  All of this is preventable.

We like to say here "trust your gut." If it seems like a medical error could have been prevented, chances are it could have. 

Not sure? Give us a call today for not cost, no obligation. 202-393-3320 or send us an email at [email protected]  We also have free information for you and your child to help: you can order it by clicking on the publications on the right, or just call or email and we will send it to you.

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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Experienced DC Workers' Comp, Long Term Disability & Accident Lawyer