Doctors’ errors over ectopic pregnancy led to abortion

  • April 29, 2019
  • When, early in her pregnancy, Helen felt sharp pains and went to her local hospital for a check-up, she found herself faced with an urgent and tragic choice; to end what the doctors told her was an ectopic pregnancy with an injection, or with surgery, which could damage her chances of having children in the future.

    Decision to terminate pregnancy

    Presented with these options, and with no knowledge that her pregnancy might actually be normal, she and her partner chose the injection of methotrexate, which would lead to the loss of their child.

    It became clear within a few days that her pregnancy had been normal, not ectopic – but because methotrexate causes developmental damage to a baby in the womb, she was advised to continue with the process of ending the pregnancy.

    Hospital failures

    Helen came to Sarah-Jayne Martin at Medical Accident Group for help to find out what had gone so wrong. Sarah Jayne was able to establish that the hospital trust had not followed its own or other professional guidelines on the treatment of ectopic pregnancies.

    The distress and grief caused by the loss of her first baby affected Helen badly, and when she became pregnant again the following year, she was very worried about being treated at the same hospital.

    When her son was born towards the end of that year, he was delivered by the same doctor who had the mistake the previous year, which again caused her great distress.

    Mother suffered PTSD

    Sarah-Jayne helped her to make a formal complaint to the health trust involved, and gathered the evidence, backed by experts, to show where the errors had been made. She said: “The negligence in this case led to the loss of their child; the great distress, caused by that and by the fear surrounding her next pregnancy, led to her suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This was a truly tragic experience for her and her partner.”

    The trust admitted that:

    • Helen should have had a second scan before a firm diagnosis was made
    • she should have been told that the baby could have been in her womb, not outside it
    • they gave the methotrexate unreasonably, before a normal pregnancy had been ruled out, ending the pregnancy.

    Helen received £25,000 compensation from the trust and was very grateful for Sarah-Jayne’s help, saying: “If we needed to talk over the phone, she would call late at night to fit around my family and work-life, which was extremely helpful. She always went above and beyond, doing all that she could to help me and ensure I understood everything. Sarah-Jayne was always approachable and friendly which made this process easier…I can’t thank her enough for her help.”

    If you or a loved one has suffered from a misdiagnosis or have lost a child because of clinical negligence, Medical Accident Group can help – our team of experienced and compassionate lawyers will help you to find the answers you seek and make a claim. Call us on 0800 050 1668 or email


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