Pregnant woman’s symptoms mistaken for early menopause

7th November 2019

A woman has had a baby after medics mistook her pregnancy symptoms for the menopause.

The woman in her 40s, first went to her doctor in July 2017, with complaints of an irregular menstrual cycle. They did a pregnancy test which was negative but she was referred for blood tests and an ultrasound scan as she had previously had a cyst on her ovary.

The blood test results came back with no significant issues and she went for her ultrasound which noted “left adnexal tubular structure suggestive of a hydrosalpinx” and she was referred to gynaecology.

A couple of months later she was prescribed Provera to help with her bleeding. Then in January of the following year she attended hospital to see a specialist who diagnosed her with early menopause. In May, she attended the Early Menopause Clinic as she was suffering with night sweats, fatigue and pain in her breast and back.

She was diagnosed with premature ovarian insufficiency. She was in fact pregnant but didn’t find this out until she was 27 weeks.

In August she went back to her GP to discuss her medication due to low blood pressure, weight gain and tiredness. The GP requested further blood tests and an ultrasound scan. A week later she called her GP for blood results and was advised that her thyroid levels were normal but her blood pressure was on the lower side of normal and she had evidence of raised white cells.

Just a week later she went back to the GP after doing a positive pregnancy test. It was discussed that due to a diagnosis of early menopause she had been having sexual intercourse without contraception. She was then referred for an ultrasound scan which found her to be between 26 and 30 weeks pregnant. She felt unable to continue with the pregnancy as she already had two grown up children and didn’t want another. She requested a re-scan to determine how many weeks she was and the identified gestation was 27 weeks and six days, which is over the limit for a pregnancy termination.

During her admission she received differing diagnoses of the child having Down’s syndrome and heart defects, which had an impact on her psychological state. After a private scan, she was advised that the baby had Down’s Syndrome and a heart defect. She requested a referral to a specialist who subsequently revealed that there were no concerns and the baby was healthy.

The baby was delivered by Caesarean section a couple of weeks later and the baby had no health issues.

She contacted Fletchers Solicitors to pursue a case on her behalf against London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust.

The woman believes that had she not been incorrectly diagnosed as being in the early stages of menopause, or had been adequately advised of the risks of pregnancy during the early onset of menopause, she would have continued to use contraception. If this had happened, on the balance of probability, she would not have fallen pregnant in or around February 2017.

She would also not have carried a baby full term and would not have had to deliver via C-section. She would also have avoided the pain and scarring that she suffered.

Had an adequate sexual history been taken from her in her appointments, it would have been apparent before prescribing Femostan that there was a risk that she could be pregnant and the failure to consider this possibility led to the inappropriate prescription of Femostan.

She was awarded £12,000 by the Trust.

Chloe Westwell, a medical negligence solicitor at Fletchers Solicitors, said: “This case highlights the importance of having thorough discussions with patients, understanding their medical history and providing the correct advice. We hope the compensation will help her to move on from this ordeal.”

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