Mississippi Injury Attorneys Advocating for Victims of Failure to Diagnose or Treat Preeclampsia

We protect mothers and children who’ve suffered birth injuries

Anticipating the arrival of a child is an important and exciting time. Although birth is a perfectly natural process, problems can still occur, and your doctor should carefully monitor and assess your pregnancy every step of the way. A relatively common, yet potentially serious, pregnancy complication is a condition known as preeclampsia. If left untreated, preeclampsia can lead to significant or even fatal complications for both mother and baby.

Preeclampsia is condition that can happen during pregnancy. It’s characterized by high blood pressure and damage to other organs, typically the kidneys. Preeclampsia usually develops after 20 weeks, in women whose blood pressure up until then had been normal. Even slight rises in blood pressure can point to preeclampsia, which is why your doctor should check your blood pressure at every prenatal visit.

If preeclampsia causes complications during your pregnancy, and results in birth injuries to your child, the lawyers at Merkel & Cocke, P.A. know how to help. We investigate your prenatal records and other documents to find out if and where medical malpractice occurred. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping your family secure compensation, as well as ensuring no other family has to deal with the same tragic situation.

What is preeclampsia?

According to the March of Dimes, preeclampsia is the cause of 15% of premature births (before 37 weeks) in the United States. Mothers and doctors here in Mississippi should be particularly vigilant, as our state is number one in the nation for premature births.

Preeclampsia is the term for high blood pressure in a pregnant woman, which is a sign that some of her vital organs—her liver or kidneys—may not be working as they’re supposed to. This condition can appear any time after the 20th week of pregnancy, but can remain a risk to the mother for days or even weeks after delivery. Preeclampsia can happen to women with no history of high blood pressure. The major risks for preeclampsia include first pregnancies, teen pregnancies, women over 40, women pregnant with multiples, women with obesity, or women with a family history of preeclampsia.

A lack of treatment can leave the mother vulnerable to eclampsia, a severe complication where high blood pressure leads to seizures, coma, or death.

Symptoms of preeclampsia

There are several different signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, and your doctor or obstetrician should be alert enough to recognize them as issues for concern:

  • Vision changes, like seeing spots, light sensitivity, or blurriness
  • Constant headache
  • Dizziness, nausea, and/or vomiting
  • Swelling in the legs, hands, or face
  • Sudden weight gain (2 to 5 pounds in a week)
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen or shoulder
  • Trouble breathing

If a doctor fails to diagnose preeclampsia, or treatment is delayed, severe health complications may result. The mother may suffer brain injury and memory loss, and the baby may suffer brain damage. Serious complications can be fatal for both mother and child.

Typical treatment for preeclampsia includes regular monitoring or putting the mother on bed rest until delivery. Some women may go on blood pressure medication and test her blood pressure at least four times daily. Her physician or obstetrician should design a treatment plan for the mother immediately upon diagnosing the condition, and monitor it consistently throughout the remainder of the pregnancy.

Complications from untreated preeclampsia

If preeclampsia goes untreated, it can cause many health problems for both mother and baby.

  • Placental abruption. This condition occurs when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth. The placenta can separate partially or completely. With placental abruption, the baby can be deprived of oxygen and nutrients. Typically occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy, placental abruption can also cause vaginal bleeding.
  • Premature birth. In order to prevent serious health problems, the mother may have to give birth early.
  • Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). IUGR is when a baby has poor growth in the womb. When the mother has high blood pressure, it narrows the blood vessels in the uterus and placenta. The placenta is responsible for providing your baby with nutrients and oxygen-rich blood. If the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen and food, it can suffer from IUGR.
  • Postpartum hemorrhage. When a mother develops preeclampsia, it heightens her risk for postpartum hemorrhage. This is heavy bleeding after giving birth, which can lead to shock (when the body’s organs don’t get enough blood), or even be fatal.
  • Low birthweight. Babies who don’t get enough nutrients in the womb may be born with a low birth weight, typically less than five pounds, eight ounces.

When a doctor fails to diagnose or treat you for preeclampsia, the complications can result in serious injury to you and your child. High blood pressure is a simple condition to monitor and any negligent medical professional should be held responsible when they fail in their duty to care for you and your baby.

Our Mississippi birth injury lawyers can give you answers

When expecting a child, you expect your doctor to provide a certain standard of care. If you or your child have suffered injury due to a doctor’s failure to diagnose or treat preeclampsia, the attorneys at Merkel & Cocke, P.A. can help hold them accountable. We provide services from our home offices in Jackson, Oxford, and Clarksdale, and work with clients throughout Mississippi, including Tupelo and across the Gulf Coast region. We also handle cases in Tennessee and Arkansas. Please call us today at 662-627-9641 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.