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Massachusetts death brings attention to preeclampsia

Pregnancy should be a happy, healthy experience, and while there are risks, expectant parents trust that their physicians will be ready to intervene if needed. Mass Live reports that this was not the case for one Massachusetts family, who now allege that the death of their loved one resulted from hospital staff's failure to diagnose preeclampsia.

When a woman exhibiting signs of preeclampsia was admitted to Cooley Dickinson Hospital Childbirth Center, her symptoms were allegedly ignored by medical staff. After giving birth, the unresponsive woman experienced a cerebral hemorrhage, and died soon afterward.

According to WebMD, the primary symptoms of the potentially fatal condition known as preeclampsia include:

  •          High blood pressure
  •          Swelling of the extremities
  •          Abdominal pain
  •          Dizziness and headache
  •          Changes to eyesight
  •          Nausea and vomiting

Although the exact cause of preeclampsia is unknown, those most likely to experience this condition are people with family history of preeclampsia and high blood pressure. However, other potential risks include kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or lupus.

When preeclampsia is diagnosed early, several treatment measures produce positive results. Doctors may recommend steroid injections, blood pressure medications, anti-seizure medications, and bed rest, along with careful monitoring of the fetal heart rate and regular ultrasounds.

Misdiagnoses of preeclampsia could lead to stillbirth of the baby and cause pregnant women to experience severe bleeding, stroke, heart failure or seizures, all of which can be fatal. Surviving infants often have low birth weights and an increased risk of complications such as cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and epilepsy.

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