Have a Story to Tell? Had a medical error?

This blog is about patient safety, medical malpractice, staying healthy, and preventing future errors. Help & empower someone else, Teach a lesson, Bear witness, Build our community - Email us or call 781-444-5525.

Frustrated with a health problem?

Need an ally in your health crisis? Call 781-444-5525, or learn more.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Medical Mishaps that Cause Misery: IVF and an ectopic pregnancy

There are times when we labor under false impressions – which medicines always help find a cure and that doctors always know what's good for us. A close friend helped me see these truths through two unpleasant incidents in her life - while one was a blatant betrayal of trust, the other was an oversight that nearly killed her.

The desire to have a baby is a normal and innate craving for most women, and my friend Jean was no different. Having not been able to conceive for a couple of years though, she and her husband sought the services of a fertility clinic. To cut a long story short, let me just say that after five years of failed artificial inseminations, they decided to try their luck at an IVF (in vitro fertilization) clinic – where they found to their dismay that Jean had just one Fallopian tube. The doctor at their previous clinic had removed it on the pretext of a cyst and FAILED to inform them that she had just one tube that worked.

Deciding not to sue them, (money was running low what with all the expenses for the medications and clinic visits) Jean continued with her IVF treatment – and tasted success. Well, for a short while at least. She was admitted to the clinic when she started bleeding, and had to hear the horrible news that there was no heartbeat and that she would have to undergo a D & C procedure.

Taking the news it stoically, the couple came home to recuperate and rejuvenate themselves, but Jean was unable to get out of bed for the next two days. She kept throwing up and undergoing dizzy spells. And then the abdominal pains came with a vengeance – she would literally pass out from the pain which usually lasted for a few minutes. A close family friend suggested a scan, which revealed the presence of another fetus in the Fallopian tube, which had now burst.

A classic ectopic pregnancy syndrome, and the doctor had failed to notice it. Jean was rushed into emergency surgery; she had already lost a lot of blood, but the docs somehow made her pull through. The worst part of the whole ordeal was that she lost her one good Fallopian tube because of this costly error. Jean and her husband have decided to adopt now, and are content to put these incidents behind them, and wait for their ready-made child. But the rest of us can learn from medical mishaps like these, and ensure that we are not at the receiving end. Here's what we can do:

• Always seek a second opinion: Doctors are human, just like the rest of us. So seek a second opinion from a different source before you decide to take any long-term medication or go under the surgeon’s scalpel.
• Consult a family member or other trusted person who's a doctor or paramedic: Members of the family who are doctors or who work in the medical field are your best bet to check out the efficiency of your attending physician and to tell you if there are others who are better at their job.
• Learn from others' mistakes: Pay heed to the stories of people who have been at the wrong end of the medical field and are suffering as a result. Learn from their experience so that you don't have to sail in the same boat.

This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of EKG classes. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: sarah.scrafford25@gmail.com

Read a very different fertility treatment story.

No comments: