Know the Complications from Gestational Diabetes and How it Could be Due to Medical Malpractice in Oregon
Gestational diabetes is a known risk in pregnancy. While many people are fortunate enough to have uncomplicated pregnancies, there are women who encounter complications during their pregnancy, leading to serious issues during their pregnancy or even during the labor and delivery of their baby. Gestational diabetes is a prevalent complication occurring in approximately 2-10% of all pregnancies in the United States. While gestational diabetes is a complication in and of itself, if this complication is not diagnosed in a timely manner or managed properly, it can lead to even more serious complications. When these complications occur as the result of a physician’s mismanagement or delay in diagnosis of the condition, it is considered to be medical malpractice. This means damages from complications from gestational diabetes could be compensable under Oregon law.
Gestational Diabetes Explained
As mentioned above, gestational diabetes or GB is a complication that occurs during pregnancy.
Most people are familiar with the condition diabetes, but it can occur in many different settings. Type 1 diabetes is considered to be autoimmune, and most often first develops in childhood but can rarely develop in adulthood. Type 2 diabetes can occur for many reasons, including genetics and lifestyle, such as how well you eat and exercise. GB as mentioned above occurs during pregnancy and is caused by a build up of glucose in your blood due to the placenta making hormones causing the glucose build up.
Usually, people are diagnosed with GB between weeks 24 and 28 of their pregnancy. Generally speaking, all women should be tested for GB during their pregnancy. This is because any pregnant woman can get GB and the consequences of it going undiagnosed can be great. Mothers with a known history of GB are sometimes tested earlier than the usual time frame of 24 to 28 weeks.
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
The symptoms of GB include the following:
- Increased thirst
- Nausea or vomiting after eating
- Dry mouth
- Increased urination
- Frequent infections
- Tingling of hands and feet
- Sweet food cravings
It is important to note that many women may experience no signs or symptoms of GB at all prior to their diagnosis.
Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis
GB is usually diagnosed in one of two ways, or both. These include the following:
Glucose Challenge Test – This is the most common test conducted to test for gestational diabetes, and involves the mother drinking a very sugary liquid drink. Blood glucose levels are drawn one hour after the glucose drink is ingested. If the level is 140 or above it can indicate that the mother may have GB. In this case, providers will then prescribe the oral glucose tolerance test.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – This test is conducted as mentioned above due to the mother failing the glucose challenge test. However, some providers may choose to only conduct this test in the absence of the other test. This is a fasting test, meaning the mother cannot have anything to eat or drink prior to the test. The mother’s blood is drawn prior to the test, and then hourly beginning one hour after drinking the sugary drink for 2-3 hours. If the blood glucose level remains elevated, the mother is diagnosed with GB.
Management of Gestational Diabetes
GB is typically managed with the following:
- Dietary changes
- Daily blood sugar monitoring
- Oral or injectable medication, if diet and exercise are unable to control the mother’s blood sugar
Complications of Gestational Diabetes
There are many potential complications of GB. These include the following:
- Hypertension – High blood pressure
- Preeclampsia – High blood pressure, swelling, protein in the urine, and organ damage or impairment. The only cure for this is delivery of the baby. This condition occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy
- Postpartum hemorrhage – Women with gestational diabetes can experience postpartum hemorrhage for a variety of reasons, but often due to shoulder dystocia during delivery. This can be entirely avoided with a c-section
- Newborn jaundice – yellowing of the eyes, skin and tissues due to a buildup of bilirubin in the blood
- Respiratory distress syndrome (newborn) – This can be caused by a variety of factors due to asphyxia during birth, metabolic abnormalities, or preterm delivery
- Macrosomia – Abnormally large infant, weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 oz at birth
- Premature birth – Baby is born before 37 weeks
- Shoulder dystocia – Baby becomes lodged in mother’s birth canal
- Placental abruption – Placenta detaches from mother’s uterus
- HELLP Syndrome – Medical emergency due to preeclampsia, possibly leading to organ failure, stroke, internal bleeding or death
- Need for cesarean birth
- Stillbirth – Baby has died in the womb
- Postpartum depression
- Infant brain damage – Due to lack of oxygen or blood flow to the brain during the labor and delivery
How Can Complications from Gestational Diabetes be Caused by Medical Malpractice?
While some women diagnosed in a timely manner and treated appropriately still suffer complications, other women experience complications due to inadequate care given by the provider. When inadequate care is provided, or the provider fails to diagnose the condition entirely, this is considered to be medical malpractice. Examples of medical malpractice in relation to the diagnosis and management of GB includes the following:
- Failure to recognize signs and symptoms of GB
- Failure to test for gestational diabetes
- Incomplete testing of gestational diabetes (i.e. conducting the glucose challenge test but failing to conduct the oral glucose tolerance test in a woman whose blood glucose levels are 140 or above)
- Failure to properly monitor women with gestational diabetes
- Failure to provide adequate treatment for women diagnosed with the condition
- Choosing to have the mother have a vaginal birth when she has suffered complications already that would make a vaginal birth unsafe, including but not limited to macrosomia, preeclampsia or HELLP syndrome
- Failing to perform a c-section when a vaginal birth is unsafe, leading to complications such as infant brain damage, shoulder dystocia, brachial plexus injury (newborn), infant respiratory distress syndrome, or still birth
These are just a few ways in which mismanagement of a mother’s care can lead to further complications from gestational diabetes. While not every complication can be prevented, it is a provider’s job to ensure that no harm is done to the mother or baby that could have been preventable.
Damages Caused by Complications From Gestational Diabetes Could be Due to Medical Malpractice
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form. We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.
Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles, St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.
We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.