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Miscarriage Compensation Claims

If your miscarriage was left undiagnosed by medical professionals and you were left seriously ill as a result you could be entitled to claim compensation.

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I am very happy and satisfied with the settlement you achieved for me and the service was excellent and thank you very much

Mrs E.Swaffield
Loughborough

Making a claim for misdiagnosis of miscarriage

The early stages of pregnancy should be magical and exciting. Seeing that positive result on a pregnancy test is one of the most memorable and life changing moments of a woman’s life. This is the beginning of a very special journey for the expectant mother and her family. However, sadly not every pregnancy has a happy ending. Miscarriage is the most common kind of pregnancy loss, affecting around one in four pregnancies*.

*Source: The Miscarriage Association

Miscarriage is when a baby (or fetus or embryo) dies in the uterus during pregnancy. In the UK, that definition applies to pregnancies up to 23 weeks and 6 days, and any loss from 24 weeks is called a stillbirth. If the baby is born alive, even before 24 weeks, and lives even for a matter of minutes, that is considered a live birth and a neonatal death.

The symptoms of miscarriage may include pain, spotting and bleeding, with or without abdominal pain or cramping. Medical professionals would usually use a transvaginal or ultrasound scan to confirm whether the baby (or fetus or embryo) has died or not developed. They may also take blood tests with a gap of least one week to check the levels of hCG in the blood.

Blighted ovum and anembryonic pregnancy both describe a particular kind of early miscarriage. Although there are the beginnings of a baby, the cells that will become the baby stop developing early on, and the tiny embryo is reabsorbed. However, the pregnancy sac, where the baby should develop, continues to grow.

During the first few weeks of pregnancy, the misdiagnosis of a blighted ovum is possible if the date of conception is uncertain. Although the developing embryo typically becomes visible earlier on a transvaginal ultrasound scan, it is not visible on an abdominal ultrasound scan until 1 - 2 weeks later.

Following a positive pregnancy test or a missed period, an expectant mother with a blighted ovum can still feel pregnant because her levels of the ‘pregnancy hormone’, hCG, may remain high for some time after the embryo has stopped developing and is no longer present.

Pelvic ultrasound scans

If you are uncertain about your date of conception, your GP should arrange for pelvic ultrasound scans to be carried out after a recommended number of weeks to avoid the possibility of misdiagnosis.

There are set guidelines for correctly diagnosing a blighted ovum, based on the recorded measurements of the embryo within the gestational sac when each type of ultrasound scan is carried out.

Seeking answers for a misdiagnosis requires specialist knowledge of both legal and medical issues. Clinical negligence cases involving pregnancy and child birth naturally demand the highest degree of sensitivity and understanding of how everyone involved is affected.

If you have suffered a miscarriage but it was not diagnosed and you were left poorly or injured you should speak to a medical negligence solicitor.

The time limit on making a miscarriage claim

It’s beneficial if you’re quick to pursue a claim as the paperwork will be readily available and the detail of the event will still be ‘fresh’ in your mind, which will help when putting your case together. There is also a three year time limit from the ‘date of knowledge’ where you learned that a mistake on your doctor’s part led to the pain or suffering you’re now experiencing. Usually if you attempt to bring a claim after this date, it will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ as per the Limitation act of 1980, section 11. If you are within the time limit, or are unsure as to whether you fall within the time period allowed, you can speak to us and we’ll be able to advise you as best we can based upon the information you’re able to share with us.

If you do not claim within the set time period, your claim will be considered ‘statute barred’ or ‘out of time’ and will unfortunately not be taken further. There are two exceptions to this rule, in the case of children and if the negligence directly led to a fatality. In these cases suing the NHS for negligence is still possible as the date on which time begins to run is the date of the child’s 18th birthday, and in the case of fatalities, from the date of death.

After a free initial phone consultation, a clinical negligence solicitor can get a feel for your circumstances, the problems you face and consequences you’re having to live with. If they feel that something wasn’t done, that should have been, they may go on to request copies of your medical records, with your permission, to assess whether something was missed or to see if a mistake was made. If it looks like a mistake was made, they will then speak to you to discuss whether you wish to pursue a medical negligence claim for compensation. We can talk you through our no win no fee legal service which means there are no upfront costs for you to cover.

 

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Our expert team will call you...

Our medical negligence team has years of experience working on a wide variety of mismanaged pregnancy cases so we understand just how difficult a decision it can be to make a claim regarding a miscarriage.

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That’s why we are committed to guiding you through every step of the process. We ensure that your claim is handled carefully and professionally by our specialist solicitors, while working alongside medical experts, to guarantee the best results for you.

Our pregnancy claims and birth injury compensation team is headed by Laura Morgan who has a wealth of experience in leading complicated medical negligence cases.

Laura is recognised within the legal profession as a leader in the field of medical negligence and serious injury compensation.  Laura has acted in a wide range of cases over her 17 years of practice and has particular expertise in acting for children who have suffered brain injury due to mismanaged birth or surgical errors, and in managing claims that have resulted in the death of a loved one. Laura has achieved a number of large settlements including £5.4 million for a 7 year old and £4 million for an 11 year old child.

Laura’s expertise and dedication to her clients is recognised in the Chambers guide to the Legal Profession in which she was praised for the efficiency of her approach to case handling and described as “tenacious and detail-oriented”.

Laura has been a member of the Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel since 2005 and accredited as a Senior Litigator in the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) since 2006.  Laura is also a member of the specialist lawyers panel for Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), the UK’s leading charity committed to patient safety and justice.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of our specialist medical negligence solicitors, call us now on 0151 550 5228 (calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.

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The effects of medical negligence can be devastating for the individual and their families, so securing appropriate compensation for them as quickly as possible is our top priority.

Laura Morgan

Director of Medical Negligence

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10 simple steps to claim

Step
1
Obtaining your medical records
Step
2
Providing your statement of what happened
Step
3
Minimising your loss
Step
4
Establishing that a breach of duty occurred
Step
5
Estabilishing the effect of the breach of duty
Step
86
Preparing your case for CourtCalculating the value of your claim
Step
7
Proving your loss
Step
68
Calculating the value of your claimPreparing your case for Court
Step
9
Attending the trial in Court
Step
10
Awarding your compensation claim

Your questions... answered

What is a blighted ovum?

The medical term for a blighted ovum is an anembryonic gestation, the most common cause of an early miscarriage in the first trimester, i.e. the first three months of pregnancy.

A blighted ovum is a fertilised egg, attached to the wall of the womb, which does not develop beyond implantation. The gestational sac continues to grow but the baby does not grow within the sac and is reabsorbed. In the case of a true blighted ovum, the yolk and foetal pole - the early thickening on the margin of the yolk sac - will not be present.

How common is a blighted ovum?

  • Around 15% of all clinically recognised pregnancies end in miscarriage.
  • Between 45 – 55% of all miscarriages are caused by a blighted ovum
  • Up to 60% of miscarriages caused by a blighted ovum occur in the first three months of pregnancy.
  • 67% of genetic samples taken from blighted ovum miscarriages contain abnormal chromosomes.

How is a blighted ovum diagnosed?

Detection of the developing embryo is carried out by pelvic or gynaecologic ultrasound scans, which examine the female pelvic organs including, the “womb” / uterus, the lining of the uterus, the cervix and the ovaries.


Most pelvic ultrasounds are performed using both transabdominal and transvaginal scans.


• Transvaginal ultrasound scan – taken between 5 to 6 weeks of pregnancy.
An internal scan that usually produces better and clearer images of the female pelvic organs.)


• Abdominal ultrasound scan – taken between 6 to 7 weeks of pregnancy.
Scans through the lower abdomen to provide an overview of the pelvis rather than detailed images. It is used particularly for examining large pelvic masses extending into the abdomen, but is not always as clear as a transvaginal ultrasound.

 

When performing the above scans, the factors for a diagnosis of blighted ovum are:


• Transvaginal ultrasound: Failure to identify an embryo in a gestational sac measuring around 18mm or more.
• Transabdominal ultrasound: Failure to identify an embryo in a gestational sac measuring at least 20 mm.
• At an earlier stage there can also be a failure to identify a yolk sac in a gestational sac measuring 13mm or more.

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How to avoid an early misdiagnosis?

As the yolk sac of the growing embryo may not always be found within the gestational sac until the sac becomes larger, doctors are recommended to wait before proceeding with a diagnosis until the sac diameter is at least 25mm with no embryo visible or an embryo without a detectable heartbeat. Repeat scans should be performed if measurements are close to the cut-off values of 21mm.

A transvaginal exam may not always be performed at the mother’s initial visit. Instead, a transabdominal examination is carried out and a follow-up ultrasound 10 days later to see if a normal pregnancy subsequently develops.

Are there any other complications?

The retroverted uterus


While the uterus usually tilts slightly forward toward the stomach, around 20 to 40% of all women have a retroverted uterus. This is where the uterus tilts back toward the rectal area, which could cause a difficulty in detecting the embryo using transvaginal ultrasound.


However, measurements are generally more accurate in women with a tilted uterus during the second trimester, i.e. between 3-6 months.



“Pregnancy hormone” (hCG)


hCG is a hormone produced by the placenta as soon as implantation in the womb occurs, usually around one week after fertilisation and ovulation. hCG levels continue to rise until around 10-12 weeks gestation, at which point the hCG level will stabilise or fall.


A pregnancy test detects the amount of hCG in the blood or urine, with a positive result when there are sufficient levels of hCG. However as hCG levels can change and rise even when there is an empty gestational sac, this test can be unreliable in the case of a blighted ovum.

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When will the miscarriage take place?

A miscarriage is needed to expel the gestational sac and accumulated tissue by the end of the first three months, although it can take place earlier.


When the diagnosis of a blighted ovum is confirmed, a woman can safely wait to miscarry naturally if she is stable and there is no excessive pain, bleeding or fever.

Will this happen to me again?

A blighted ovum is considered a one-time event. While miscarriage is a risk in any pregnancy, the risk is not increased because of the blighted ovum but it also does not mean that a miscarriage cannot occur again.

The medical term for a blighted ovum is an anembryonic gestation, the most common cause of an early miscarriage in the first trimester, i.e. the first three months of pregnancy.

A blighted ovum is a fertilised egg, attached to the wall of the womb, which does not develop beyond implantation. The gestational sac continues to grow but the baby does not grow within the sac and is reabsorbed. In the case of a true blighted ovum, the yolk and foetal pole - the early thickening on the margin of the yolk sac - will not be present.

  • Around 15% of all clinically recognised pregnancies end in miscarriage.
  • Between 45 – 55% of all miscarriages are caused by a blighted ovum
  • Up to 60% of miscarriages caused by a blighted ovum occur in the first three months of pregnancy.
  • 67% of genetic samples taken from blighted ovum miscarriages contain abnormal chromosomes.

Detection of the developing embryo is carried out by pelvic or gynaecologic ultrasound scans, which examine the female pelvic organs including, the “womb” / uterus, the lining of the uterus, the cervix and the ovaries.


Most pelvic ultrasounds are performed using both transabdominal and transvaginal scans.


• Transvaginal ultrasound scan – taken between 5 to 6 weeks of pregnancy.
An internal scan that usually produces better and clearer images of the female pelvic organs.)


• Abdominal ultrasound scan – taken between 6 to 7 weeks of pregnancy.
Scans through the lower abdomen to provide an overview of the pelvis rather than detailed images. It is used particularly for examining large pelvic masses extending into the abdomen, but is not always as clear as a transvaginal ultrasound.

 

When performing the above scans, the factors for a diagnosis of blighted ovum are:


• Transvaginal ultrasound: Failure to identify an embryo in a gestational sac measuring around 18mm or more.
• Transabdominal ultrasound: Failure to identify an embryo in a gestational sac measuring at least 20 mm.
• At an earlier stage there can also be a failure to identify a yolk sac in a gestational sac measuring 13mm or more.

Read less

As the yolk sac of the growing embryo may not always be found within the gestational sac until the sac becomes larger, doctors are recommended to wait before proceeding with a diagnosis until the sac diameter is at least 25mm with no embryo visible or an embryo without a detectable heartbeat. Repeat scans should be performed if measurements are close to the cut-off values of 21mm.

A transvaginal exam may not always be performed at the mother’s initial visit. Instead, a transabdominal examination is carried out and a follow-up ultrasound 10 days later to see if a normal pregnancy subsequently develops.

The retroverted uterus


While the uterus usually tilts slightly forward toward the stomach, around 20 to 40% of all women have a retroverted uterus. This is where the uterus tilts back toward the rectal area, which could cause a difficulty in detecting the embryo using transvaginal ultrasound.


However, measurements are generally more accurate in women with a tilted uterus during the second trimester, i.e. between 3-6 months.



“Pregnancy hormone” (hCG)


hCG is a hormone produced by the placenta as soon as implantation in the womb occurs, usually around one week after fertilisation and ovulation. hCG levels continue to rise until around 10-12 weeks gestation, at which point the hCG level will stabilise or fall.


A pregnancy test detects the amount of hCG in the blood or urine, with a positive result when there are sufficient levels of hCG. However as hCG levels can change and rise even when there is an empty gestational sac, this test can be unreliable in the case of a blighted ovum.

Read less

A miscarriage is needed to expel the gestational sac and accumulated tissue by the end of the first three months, although it can take place earlier.


When the diagnosis of a blighted ovum is confirmed, a woman can safely wait to miscarry naturally if she is stable and there is no excessive pain, bleeding or fever.

A blighted ovum is considered a one-time event. While miscarriage is a risk in any pregnancy, the risk is not increased because of the blighted ovum but it also does not mean that a miscarriage cannot occur again.