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Medical Verdicts


Was ectopic diagnosis wrong?

January 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 1

<court>Winnebago County (Ill) Circuit Court</court>

A 39-year-old woman with a history of pain from ovarian cysts experienced an acute increase in pain intensity, which persisted nearly a full day. Her physician diagnosed ectopic pregnancy and performed a laparoscopic salpingectomy.


The woman sued, claiming no ectopic pregnancy existed. Instead, she argued, her symptoms were due to an exacerbation of her cyst pain and salpingitis, as noted on pathology examination. She noted that her low levels of human chorionic gonadotropin made ectopic pregnancy unlikely.

She also alleged that endometriosis and adhesions caused by the procedure required additional surgery the following year.

The defendant maintained the woman’s symptoms were consistent with ectopic pregnancy and possible rupture, and thus the diagnosis and resultant surgery were appropriate.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.

The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn (www.verdictslaska.com). While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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