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Preeclampsia and Eclampsia

Pregnancy is an exciting time for every expectant mother, but it’s not without its challenges. Pregnancy is stressful and sometimes traumatic for a woman’s body, and in many cases, complications of pregnancy result. One common complication is preeclampsia, a disorder characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine. Preeclampsia is a serious condition that can have serious consequences for both mother and baby. If a doctor fails to diagnose or properly manage preeclampsia, and injury results, he or she may be liable for medical malpractice. If you’ve been injured by a doctor’s negligence in this way, continue reading to learn more or call our offices to schedule a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Preeclampsia and Eclampsia

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that is characterized by high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine. Severe cases of preeclampsia can lead to eclampsia, which is the onset of seizures in women with preeclampsia. Eclampsia occurs in about 1 in every 200 cases of preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia can develop any time after week 20 of gestation, and can even occur soon after delivery. Preeclampsia that develops before week 32 is considered early onset and carries with it an elevated morbidity risk.

Although any woman can develop preeclampsia, some are especially at risk. Risk factors include:

  • Maternal age under 20 or over 40
  • Carrying multiples
  • Family history of preeclampsia
  • A first pregnancy
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Maternal obesity
  • Preexisting blood pressure or kidney disorders
  • Native American or African ancestry

There are many symptoms of preeclampsia, including high blood pressure, high protein in the urine, swelling in the hands and face, sudden weight gain, blurry vision, nausea, headache, and lower back or upper abdominal pain. Your doctor should ask the right questions and administer the right tests throughout the course of your pregnancy to keep track of your health and whether or not preeclampsia has developed. Undetected or unmanaged preeclampsia and rising blood pressure can eventually lead to seizures, retinal detachment, cerebral hemorrhage, liver problems, detachment of the placenta from the uterine wall, and even death.

A Standard of Care

Your doctor owes you a certain level of care. Essentially, he or she must provide the care that most other doctors in similar circumstances would provide. When a doctor breaches that duty of care and injury results, he or she may be guilty of medical malpractice and liable for damages.

To meet the standard of care in the diagnosis and management of preeclampsia, your doctor must monitor you adequately throughout your pregnancy, and after delivery. Your doctor should ask questions to uncover any risk factors, ask questions about any symptoms you may be experiencing, and take it seriously when you describe any signs of preeclampsia. Your doctor should routinely monitor your blood pressure and protein levels in your urine. Failing to keep appropriate track of you during your pregnancy could mean failing to detect preeclampsia.

Once preeclampsia is diagnosed, it must be taken seriously and managed appropriately. Depending on the circumstances and what stage of pregnancy you’re in, management may include mandatory bed rest, magnesium sulfate injections, and if your baby is developed enough, medically induced labor or Cesarean section.

If your doctor failed to monitor or manage preeclampsia and you or your baby was injured as a result, a medical malpractice attorney may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve. Please call Staver Law Group at to schedule your free consultation.