Woman Receives Compensation for the Missed Diagnosis of an Ectopic Pregnancy

A woman from Wiltshire has received £15,000 compensation for the missed diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy which resulted in her becoming infertile.

The unnamed woman and her husband were trying for their third child when, in June 2012, the woman attended her GP complaining of pains to her lower abdomen and her left hand side. The GP referred her to the Early Pregnancy Unit at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, where she underwent an ultrasound scan.

The ultrasound scan revealed nothing in the womb, but the woman was called back to the hospital twice more within a week for blood tests and further ultrasound scans – the second set of blood tests indicating that her BHCG levels had increased, but not sufficiently to confirm that she was pregnant.

The woman was told that there were three possibilities – that she was having a normal pregnancy, that a miscarriage had occurred or that there was an ectopic pregnancy. The woman had two previous ectopic pregnancies – one which resulted in one fallopian tube being surgically removed and the second being successfully treated with methotrexate.

Following more scans and blood tests ten days later, the woman received a telephone call asking her to attend the hospital once again for a laparoscopy. The hospital told her that the blood tests had confirmed an ectopic pregnancy and, when she arrived at the hospital for the procedure, was told that her remaining fallopian tube could not be saved and would have to be removed.

After recovering from the procedure, the woman sought legal advice and claimed compensation for the missed diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy. In her legal action she alleged that doctors should have identified the ectopic pregnancy earlier based on her previous medical history and administered methotrexate.

This course of action, she claimed, would have eliminated the need for her second fallopian tube to be removed and allowed her to try again for a third child. The hospital acknowledged the error, and a negotiated settlement of compensation for the missed diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy was negotiated amounting to £15,000.