Ectopic Pregnancy: California Woman Slips Into Coma After Doctors Fail To Detect Internal Bleeding

A 36-year-old pregnant woman from Anaheim, California has slipped into a coma after she suffered heavy internal bleeding caused due to an ectopic pregnancy. Her relatives are now blaming the hospital authorities who did not detect the ectopic pregnancy and sent her home instead after prescribing her a set of painkillers.

According to ABC News, the woman identified as Lisa Avila was 12 weeks pregnant on Valentine’s Day when she woke up that morning with severe abdominal pain. She was taken to the Anaheim Regional Medical Center’s emergency department where an ultrasound was performed on her to ascertain the cause of the abnormal pain. According to the report, the doctors at the hospital told Lisa that she and her baby were doing fine and that the pain was “normal”. She was also given a prescription of painkillers to alleviate the pain. The doctors were apparently unable to detect that Lisa’s was an ectopic pregnancy where the fetus develops outside of the uterus.

A little after Lisa was discharged from the hospital, her husband left her in his car and was away at the pharmacy. When he returned a little while later, to his shock, Lisa was unconscious and had stopped breathing. Paramedics were immediately alerted and Lisa was readmitted to the same hospital. It was after this re-admission that it was found that her pregnancy was ectopic in nature. The pain was due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy which caused internal bleeding and subsequently caused her to slip into a coma.

Lisa with her husband. Lisa's oldest daughter is 18 years old while the youngest is just seven months old

In a news conference, Lisa’s aunt Jessica Jule has blamed the hospital authorities for failing to detect Lisa’s ectopic pregnancy. According to ABC 7, Lisa slipped into a coma a day after she was readmitted to the hospital and had been operated upon for an emergency surgery.

“She needed emergency surgery to stop the bleeding. Why did they make my niece leave this hospital when obviously there was something wrong? How could they say the baby was fine if it was an ectopic pregnancy and you did an ultrasound?” Jule alleged.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Regional Medical Center has released an official statement following the incident:

“Patient safety is Anaheim Regional Medical Center’s foremost priority and we are committed to providing the highest quality care to every patient we serve. The physicians, nurses and staff at Anaheim Regional Medical Center care deeply for the health of this patient and our thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family. Patient privacy laws prevent us from sharing any additional information.”

Ectopic pregnancies are a fairly common phenomenon and are known to occur in almost 1 percent of all pregnancies in the United States. Usually, hospitals can quickly detect such pregnancies and take immediate corrective steps. However, there are circumstances in which even an ultrasound might not be able to detect and ectopic pregnancy.

Dr. Keith Eddleman, director of obstetrics at The Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan says;

“If you have a patient in the first trimester with abdominal pain and bleeding and you can’t see the pregnancy inside the uterus — and you have a positive pregnancy test — you have to assume it’s ectopic until proven otherwise because it is life-threatening.”

Ectopic pregnancies are known to rupture about five or six weeks into the development of the embryo and are known to be the top cause of pregnancy-related mortality. This usually happens when the Fallopian tubes where the fetus usually develops during an ectopic pregnancy cannot hold the embryo any longer. Lisa’s 12-week pregnancy for the same reason is highly unusual.

[Image Via ABC News]