Ectopic Pregnancies: Missed Opportunities


April 4, 2019 | By Ruth Tucker |

April 4, 2019 | By Ruth Tucker |

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg develops outside of the womb – usually in one of the fallopian tubes (the tubes connecting the ovaries to the womb).  In the UK, around one in every 90 pregnancies is ectopic (around 11,000 pregnancies a year).

When an egg gets stuck in one of the tubes it cannot develop into a healthy pregnancy and it usually has to be removed using medication, or sometimes via surgery. If the egg is left in the tube, there are significant health risks to the mum and failing to treat it properly can have devastating consequences.

Symptoms vary, but can include abdominal pain, vaginal bleed, pain in the tip of your shoulder, or discomfort when going to the toilet. However, some ectopic pregnancies may not cause any symptoms, but can be detected during routine scans.

Treatment varies from a “watch and wait” approach, to medical management, to surgery. But the risk is that the ectopic pregnancy can grow, causing the tube to rupture. This can cause major internal bleeding and can be life-threatening to the mother.

Sadly, errors occur when doctors, midwives, or nurses fail to spot the signs of ectopic pregnancy, or fail to treat appropriately once the risk is identified. This can lead to delays in treatment, for example the mother may end up having surgery when medical treatment could have been given if the diagnosis had been made earlier. Or, in the worst cases where an ectopic is missed, it ruptures meaning that the patient suffers major internal bleeding and requires urgent emergency medical treatment. This can be extremely distressing for the patient and often leads to psychological injuries.

At Switalskis our Clinical Negligence Team has extensive experience of such claims and has successfully represented patients who suffered delays in diagnosis, or treatment of ectopic pregnancy. If you believe that you, or a family member, has a claim call us on 0800 130 0458 or complete our contact form and to arrange your free consultation.


Ruth Tucker

Ruth is a solicitor within our Medical Negligence team in Sheffield. She has worked in the legal profession since October 2010 and qualified as a solicitor in June 2015. She joined Switalskis Medical Negligence department in November 2016. Ruth's profile