Pre-eclampsia and medical negligence: Corinna’s story

Pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia is an illness categorised by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, and can cause headaches, pitting oedema, visual disturbances, upper abdominal pain, organ failure and in severe cases even be fatal to the mother and unborn baby.

According to Australian Action on Pre-Eclampsia (AAPEC), 1 in 10 mothers develop pre-eclampsia which often leads to premature births and potential complications for the mother and baby.

Corinna’s Story

In 2011, Corrina Medway was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia during her pregnancy with her twin girls. Six days before the birth of her twins, she presented to hospital complaining of swelling in her feet and hands, and pins and needles in her arms. She had elevated blood pressure so her obstetrician, Dr Andrew Foote, commenced her on beta-blocking anti-hypertension medication before sending her home.

Three days later Mrs Medway was admitted to hospital and advised by Dr Foote to cease taking the medication. On the day of her twins’ birth she began to experience severe pain that she did not believe to be associated with contractions. Dr Foote dismissed her pain and high blood pressure readings and diagnosed the pain as musculoskeletal. A few hours later Mrs Medway gave birth.

After the birth, Mrs Medway’s condition deteriorated rapidly and despite complaining of serious chest and back pain, Dr Foote failed to adequately treat and diagnose her condition. The condition led to a stroke which caused a cerebral haemorrhage. Mrs Medway passed away shortly afterwards.

The ACT Coroner’s Court found that Dr Foote was aware of Mrs Medway’s dangerous blood pressure readings but failed to provide appropriate treatment. Coroner Margaret Hunter said that such treatment was readily available in the form of fast-acting anti-hypertensive drugs.

The following recommendations were made by Coroner Hunter:

  • All nursing staff, midwives, obstetricians and other medical practitioners involved in the treatment and care of pregnant women undertake specific training with respect to pregnancy induced hypertension (pre-eclampsia) and the risk it poses to pregnant women, antenatally and postpartum;
  • Literature such as the Pre-eclampsia Foundation Brochure be provided by practitioners to all pregnant women under their care; and
  • A complete copy of the patient’s notes be sent with the patient upon discharge from the birthing suite to the ward.

Orders were then made that Mrs Medway’s partner and three children be paid $1.2 million in compensation.

The Law Office of Conrad Curry is passionate in ensuring that women and their families receive appropriate treatment during their pregnancy. Not only are we advocates against pregnancy-related medical negligence, but we have preeclampsia survivors amongst us who are ready to fight for you.

If you have been a victim or suffered loss as a result of medical negligence, call us today to speak to our friendly team.

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