Preeclampsia and Obstetrical Negligence
Preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that is characterized by high blood pressure, can be fatal to both mother and child. Here, the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Peter Angelos Law, P.C. further explain the symptoms and risks of preeclampsia, as well as what to do if you suspect that obstetrical negligence impacted your complication.
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that is characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to the liver or kidneys. Preeclampsia typically begins after 20 weeks of pregnancy in women whose blood pressure had been normal.
Preeclampsia can develop without any symptoms. High blood pressure may develop slowly or may have a sudden onset. Because high blood pressure is often the first sign of preeclampsia, it is important that blood pressure monitoring is a part of prenatal care. It is important to remember that blood pressure that exceeds 140/90 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater, documented on two occasions at least four hours apart, is abnormal.
Other signs and symptoms of preeclampsia may include:
- Excess protein in your urine (proteinuria) or additional signs of kidney problems,
- Severe headaches,
- Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity,
- Upper abdominal pain, usually under your ribs on the right side,
- Nausea or vomiting,
- Decreased urine output,
- Decreased levels of platelets in your blood (thrombocytopenia),
- Impaired liver function,
- Shortness of breath, caused by fluid in your lungs,
Failure to Diagnose Preeclampsia
If left undiagnosed or untreated, preeclampsia can lead to serious, even fatal, complications for both mother and baby. The most effective treatment of preeclampsia is delivering the baby, but there can be significant challenges if a mother is diagnosed with preeclampsia so early in the pregnancy that she can’t be induced to deliver the baby.
Preeclampsia and Birth Injuries
Preeclampsia can result in further injuries to both mother and child. The more severe the preeclampsia and the earlier it occurs in your pregnancy, the greater the risk. Therefore, it is imperative that your obstetrician is thoroughly monitoring your health throughout the pregnancy.
Complications and birth injuries that may result from preeclampsia may include:
- Fetal growth restriction
Preeclampsia can affect the arteries carrying blood to the placenta. If the placenta doesn’t get enough blood, your baby may receive inadequate blood, oxygen and nutrients. This can result in slow growth, low birth rate or preterm birth.
- Preterm birth
Severe preeclampsia may require early delivery to save the life of mother and child. Premature birth can lead to breathing and other problems for the baby.
- Placental abruption
Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. Severe abruption can cause heavy bleeding, which can be life-threatening for both mother and baby.
- HELLP syndrome
HELLP syndrome, which stands for hemolysis (the destruction of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count, is a more severe form of preeclampsia and can quickly become life-threatening for both mother and baby.
When preeclampsia is not controlled, eclampsia can develop. Eclampsia has many of the same symptoms as preeclampsia, but the mother is at a risk of experiencing seizures. It is difficult to predict which patients will have preeclampsia serious enough to develop eclampsia. Therefore, it is imperative that your obstetrician is correctly monitoring your health during your pregnancy.
- Organ damage
Preeclampsia may result in damage to the kidneys, liver, lung, heart or eyes and can cause a stroke or brain injury. The amount of organ damage is dependent on the severity of preeclampsia.
- Cardiovascular disease
Having preeclampsia may increase the mother’s future risk for heart and blood vessel diseases. The risk is even greater if a mother has had preeclampsia more than once or if there has been a preterm delivery.
Doctors are still researching the best way to prevent preeclampsia. Currently, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing thorough prenatal care are the recommended ways to lower the risk of developing preeclampsia.
Because of this, it is imperative that your obstetrician is closely monitoring your health and making the proper medical decisions during your pregnancy. Failure to do so can cause preeclampsia complications to worsen.
Consult a Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney
Pregnancy can come with many risks for both mother and child. As an expecting mother, you put your trust in your obstetrician. An obstetrician making an error can affect both mother and child. If you believe that your obstetrician acted negligent and negatively impacted the health of you and/or your baby, please contact the experienced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Peter Angelos Law, P.C. Call toll-free at 1-866-926-2355 or fill out the form below.