Soon-to-be parents are already anxious, as they happily anticipate the arrival of their child. But serious conditions like preeclampsia can be dangerous for both mother and child if not identified and treated as soon as possible. Preeclampsia (sometimes called toxemia) is the clinical term for describing high blood pressure during pregnancy or in the first six weeks following delivery. Often, patients also show increased proteins in their urine. The condition requires immediate treatment to avoid advancing into eclampsia, which can cause seizures that lead to brain damage and even death.
Preeclampsia is a condition that can occur any time after the twentieth week of pregnancy. It’s estimated that the issue occurs between three and seven percent of the time in expectant mothers. Patients typically have symptoms including high blood pressure and a high level of proteins in their urine. The diagnostic criteria includes:
- Mild preeclampsia occurs when blood pressure is greater than 140/90 and below 160/110. At this point, elevated proteins may be found in urine.
- Severe preeclampsia occurs when blood pressure goes over 160/110. Significant levels of protein is likely to be present in the urine and the mother may be experiencing other symptoms. These include pain, swelling, headache, or visual impairment.
If preeclampsia is not adequately treated, a number of risk factors can occur. These include grand mal seizures, hemorrhaging, stroke, placenta detachment, and even death. Doctors use a combination of diagnostics to determine what’s happening, including testing blood pressure, monitoring for visual signs, and urine tests. If the doctor fails to test appropriately or to make an accurate diagnosis, you may have the basis for a malpractice suit.
Increased Risks of Preeclampsia
Patients under certain circumstances may be at increased risk of preeclampsia, and require additional monitoring:
- multiple pregnancies;
- being over aged forty;
- a first pregnancy;
- family or personal history of preeclampsia;
- conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and kidney disorders;
- being of Native American or African American descent.
Medical personnel must be vigilant about preeclampsia when dealing with pregnant patients. Diagnosis often requires complete bedrest, hospitalization for observation, or treatment in the form of magnesium sulphate. Taking the mother’s condition and the size of the baby into account, labor is often induced or a cesarean surgery performed. The only true solution for preeclampsia is birth. This must be weighed against the fetus’ need to grow in order to thrive outside the womb. It’s important that doctors provide adequate monitoring, treatment, and decision making into account that maximizes the health of both mother and baby.
Malpractice may occur when the condition is not diagnosed; when proper treatment is not provided; or when faulty decisions lead to injury or death for the mother or child. If you or a loved one has experienced preeclampsia malpractice through misdiagnosis or mismanagement, contact us today to discuss your case and arrange for a personalized consultation to learn what legal recourse may be available to you.