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Can a miscarriage be misdiagnosed?

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Sometimes, in Chicago as is true everywhere, when the complexities of healthcare meet the challenges of pregnancy, the question arises: Can a miscarriage be misdiagnosed?

A misdiagnosed miscarriage occurs in scenarios where pregnant women are falsely informed that their baby has died in utero. Naturally, this can be a very distressing experience for the affected women and their families.

How could a doctor have misdiagnosed a miscarriage?

Suppose a pregnant woman starts bleeding and cramping; she might think she’s losing her baby. Unfortunately, this fear may be mistakenly confirmed by a healthcare professional.

A crucial factor contributing to misdiagnosis is a date error. Suppose a woman miscalculated the date of their last period or simply has an irregular menstrual cycle; confusion may arise during their ultrasound.

Since there’s usually no fetal heartbeat until the sixth week of pregnancy, a miscalculated gestational age can lead to incorrect conclusions of a pregnancy loss. This can result in a misdiagnosed missed miscarriage, a phenomenon that occurs when the electrical pulses commonly referred to as an early fetal heartrate stops beating.

Other times, a false miscarriage arises from a false chemical pregnancy. A chemical pregnancy is an unviable pregnancy that results in miscarriage within the first five weeks of pregnancy.

Doctors may also conclude that the slow increase of a pregnant woman’s human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels is indicative of an ectopic pregnancy. Another phenomenon for falling hCG levels is the vanishing twin syndrome, which involves the spontaneous disappearance of one fetus in a multiple pregnancy. This can be misinterpreted as a miscarriage if not identified early, contributing to a false miscarriage.

How do you prove miscarriage misdiagnosis?

One way to prove a misdiagnosed miscarriage is for a pregnant woman to have a second ultrasound. If the first ultrasound was misread, a transvaginal ultrasound can provide the enhanced image clarity required for an accurate assessment. This method allows for a closer examination, enabling healthcare professionals to detect fetal viability more accurately.

The journey of pregnancy is already laden with many uncertainties, and the last thing any woman wants to deal with is a misdiagnosed miscarriage. Unfortunately, it can happen to anyone, so it’s crucial to approach your pregnancy journey with an informed perspective and to seek legal guidance whenever questions or concerns about one’s rights and options.