During pregnancy, a mother may experience a wide range of changes and symptoms to her body. As a result, there are several prenatal conditions that obstetricians must check for as the baby develops. However, some medical providers may fail to monitor and identify symptoms of serious conditions—leading to serious, potential life-threatening complications. One of the most dangerous prenatal conditions is known as HELLP syndrome, which can cause serious harm to a mother and her child if left undetected.

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What Is HELLP Syndrome?

HELLP syndrome is a serious prenatal condition that involves dangerously high blood pressure and abnormal liver and kidney complications. HELLP is an acronym that stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count. Women typically develop this condition during the last few weeks of pregnancy during the third trimester.

While rare, HELLP syndrome is more common in women who have received a previous preeclampsia or eclampsia diagnosis. This condition is dangerous and often fatal if a mother carries her baby to term without receiving a diagnosis from her doctor. Symptoms of HELLP syndrome may include the following.

  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Fluid retention
  • Excess bleeding
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Swelling in the extremities

No one knows the cause of HELLP syndrome, but medical professionals have developed tests to identify it. For example, obstetricians test a mother’s blood for platelet counts during routine appointments. If her platelet counts are abnormally low, the medical provider may run additional tests to check for other HELLP syndrome complications, such as liver function tests and CT scans to check for liver enlargement or bleeding.

HELLP Syndrome Complications

It is very important for obstetricians to be aware of the signs of HELLP syndrome and to deploy immediate treatment if a mother experiences these symptoms. To treat this condition, medical experts recommend delivering the baby as soon as possible to avoid further risk to the mother and her child. However, if an obstetrician does not monitor for these symptoms or fails to diagnose the condition, the mother can develop life-threatening complications, including the following.

  • Stroke
  • Ruptured liver
  • Kidney failure
  • Hemorrhages, or excessive bleeding
  • Pulmonary edema, or excess fluid in the lungs
  • Placental abruption, or a separation of the placenta from the uterine wall
  • Lung failure in both the mother and the child

How Do You Know if You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you developed HELLP syndrome while you were pregnant and your doctor failed to diagnose your condition, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. However, you will need to prove the following four facts to secure compensation in your lawsuit.

  • The at-fault medical provider owed you and your child a duty of care.
  • The at-fault provider breached his or her duty of care in some way. You will need to prove that another medical professional would have accurately diagnosed your condition under the same circumstances.
  • The at-fault provider’s actions caused you and your child’s HELLP syndrome complications and resulting injuries.
  • You and your child sustained damages due to the healthcare provider’s failure to diagnose your condition. Damages may include medical expenses, pain and suffering, and rehabilitation costs.

If you believe you have grounds for a HELLP syndrome claim, speak to a Kansas City medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you and your family file your claim, providing the resources, skills, and experiences necessary to craft a compelling case for your right to maximum compensation.

Robert Norfleet
Helping Kansas City area medical malpractice, car accident, wrongful death and personal injury clients.