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Medical Verdicts

Stress, vertical scar blamed on misdiagnosed pregnancy

August 2003 · Vol. 15, No. 8

<court>Nassau County (NY) Supreme Court</court>

A 25-year-old woman at 16 weeks’ gestation presented to a perinatology clinic for a routine sonogram. The perinatologist reading the sonogram detected signs of an abdominal pregnancy and alerted the patient’s physician. The perinatologist referred the woman to the hospital for an emergency exploratory laparatomy to remove the pregnancy.

During the procedure, only a normal intrauterine pregnancy was found. The infant was later delivered successfully at term via cesarean section.

The woman sued, claiming that the operating physician relied on a faxed report for the diagnosis. She also cited undue emotional stress during her pregnancy, as well as the unnecessary 6-inch vertical scar on her abdomen.

The physician argued that, based on the perinatologist’s diagnosis, surgery was justified.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict. A $75,000 pretrial settlement was reached with the perinatologist.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.