When a woman suffers from extremely high blood pressure during pregnancy that is serious enough to cause damage to an internal organ, such as the kidneys, she has a condition known as preeclampsia. When left untreated, preeclampsia can cause serious complications for both mother and baby. The following reviews causes of preeclampsia, actions that should be taken immediately when preeclampsia is present, and risks to mother and baby when preeclampsia is not recognized or treated.
What causes preeclampsia?
Preeclampsia is a poorly understood condition -- one that scientists and medical professionals are still researching the causes. However, preeclampsia may begin during the creation of the placenta, the organ that is responsible for providing a developing fetus with nutrients throughout the course of the pregnancy. During placenta growth, new blood vessels must form. When the blood vessels aren’t fully formed, the mother may be at greater risk of suffering from preeclampsia. Being older than age 40, being pregnant for the first time, being pregnant with a new partner, obesity, multiple pregnancies, and a history of preeclampsia are all risk factors for the onset of preeclampsia.
There is no cure for preeclampsia other than delivery of the baby. However, because preeclampsia can set in as early as 20 weeks, the baby may not be ready to be delivered, posing a dilemma for an attending doctor. Because delivery may endanger the baby, preeclampsia may be controlled with the use of blood pressure medications, anticonvulsant medications (preeclampsia can cause seizures), corticosteroids, bed rest or hospitalization.
Dangers of Preeclampsia
If preeclampsia is not treated and a baby is not delivered upon the mother’s diagnosis, both mother and baby are at serious risk of complications or death. Preeclampsia can cause placental abruption (when the placenta prematurely detaches from the uterine wall), severe and uncontrollable bleeding, and seizures, which can be dangerous for baby and mom. What’s more, because preeclampsia affects how much blood flow reaches the placenta, a developing fetus may not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs for healthy growth, leading to developmental or cognitive delays or even brain damage.
When Preeclampsia Isn’t Treated
While knowing exactly how to treat preeclampsia can be tricky for a physician -- who must weigh the benefits of early delivery against the risks -- failing to take action to manage the condition is inexcusable. If a healthcare professional fails to diagnose the condition by failing to monitor mother and baby properly during pregnancy or conduct the proper lab work, or if he or she fails to treat the condition upon diagnosis, negligence has occurred. Negligence, or a violation of the medical standard of care, occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide a patient with care that’s reasonable and understood as acceptable by the medical community.
If a baby suffers permanent and irreversible harm, such as brain damage or death, or if a mother is injured as a result of untreated preeclampsia, the doctor may be held liable for those damages. As such, the doctor will be responsible for paying the mother and baby costs of reparations for the harm they’ve suffered.
File a Malpractice Suit for Negligent Prenatal Care
In order to recover damages suffered by you and your baby from preeclampsia caused by negligent prenatal care, you’ll have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit for damages. Medical malpractice suits must be filed within two years after the malpractice occurred. Our attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC can represent you.
If you’re ready to learn more about negligent prenatal care and the types of damages recoverable, as well as what you’ll need to know about malpractice suits moving forward, call our offices to speak with us today at 215-642-2335.