Learn How the Failure to Diagnose Gestational Diabetes in Pregnancy Could be Oregon Medical Malpractice
Gestational diabetes, abbreviated sometimes as GD, is a commonly known complication of pregnancy. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 2-10% of pregnancy women in the United States develop gestational diabetes. While GD can be managed and treated if identified and treated properly, some physicians and other healthcare providers fail to diagnose the condition, leading to potential harm of the mother and infant. When a healthcare provider fails to diagnose GD and the mother or infant suffer harm, this is considered to be medical malpractice. In fact, the failure to diagnose gestational diabetes in pregnancy could result in other very serious health complications.
This includes health complications that can be due to a larger fetus size and result in birth complications, including some of the following birth injuries or conditions:
- Cerebral palsy
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Developmental delays
- Seizure disorders
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Organ injuries
- Blindness, and
- Other types of very serious personal injuries or damages.
Yes, if your child was diagnosed with any of these conditions and you had or suspect you had GD, you need to call our Oregon medical malpractice lawyers to determine whether you have a case.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
This type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy does not typically develop until between weeks 24-28 of pregnancy. It is during that time that physicians are supposed to test for gestational diabetes, regardless of how at-risk the mother is. If a mother has had issues in previous pregnancies with GD, they may be tested sooner than 24-28 weeks.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that causes high blood sugar in pregnant women. Women who develop GD are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. While for most women the condition goes away, occasionally women continue to suffer from diabetes after their pregnancy ends, making this a permanent condition.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?
While some women may present with no symptoms at all, other women with GD may present with the following:
- Dry mouth
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Blurred vision
- Nausea after eating
- Vomiting after eating
- Tingling of the hands and feet
- Cravings for sweeter foods
- Frequent infections (bladder, skin and vagina most commonly)
How is Gestational Diabetes Diagnosed?
- Glucose Challenge Test – this test involves the mother driving a very sweet liquid that contains glucose. An hour after drinking the glucose drink, the mother’s blood is drawn to measure their blood sugar level. If the level is 140 or above, this could mean that the mother has developed, or is developing diabetes. Mothers with elevated blood glucose levels will require further testing.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – This test is typically performed if a mother fails the glucose challenge test. This test is performed fasting, meaning that the mother cannot have anything eat or drink (except water) for 8 hours prior. The mother’s blood is drawn to check her blood glucose level prior to drinking the oral glucose drink. Once she drinks the oral glucose drink, she then needs to have her blood sugar drawn every hour for 2-3 hours. If the mother’s blood sugar remains elevated on this test, she will be diagnosed with GD.
How is Gestational Diabetes Treated?
This type of diabetes is typically treated with the following:
- Blood sugar monitoring daily
- Dietary changes
- Oral or injectable medication if a mother’s blood sugar is too elevated
What are the Risk Factors of Gestational Diabetes?
While some women may develop diabetes in pregnancy with no risk factors at all, there are some risk factors that can put a woman at higher risk for this condition. Risk factors include the following:
- Women who are overweight or obese and physically inactive
- Previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
- Pre-existing pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis
- Above the age of 25
- Previous pregnancy with macrosomia
- Family member who has diabetes (parent or sibling)
- Women who are Latino, African American, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander
- Women with a history of high blood pressure
- Excess weight gain during pregnancy
- Elevated level of amniotic fluid
- Previous birth of a baby with a birth defect
What are the Possible Complications of Gestational Diabetes?
- High blood pressure
- Need for a cesarean birth
- Macrosomia (large infant) – a newborn weighing more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces at birth
- Perinatal depression
- Premature birth
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Shoulder dystocia
- Jaundice of the newborn after birth
- Newborn respiratory distress syndrome
What are the Consequences to the Mother if a Failure to Diagnose Gestational Diabetes n Pregnancy is Not Done?
- HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, high blood pressure) – due to pre-eclampsia. This is a very serious condition that occurs in the later stages of pregnancy and is considered an emergency. This condition if left untreated can lead to permanent liver and kidney damage, heart failure, internal bleeding stroke or death
- Placental Abruption – This occurs when the placenta detaches from the woman uterus. When this occurs the baby is deprived of nutrients and oxygen. A cesarean birth is often indicated
- Brain damage to the baby due to poor blood flow from the placenta to the baby
- Heart and blood vessel diseases long term, and
- The other conditions that were noted above including hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, and epilepsy, as well as other conditions.
What are the Potential Consequences for a Newborn Born to a Mother Who Had Untreated Gestational Diabetes?
- Fetal Macrosomia
- Brachial plexus injury
- Infant respiratory distress syndrome
- Still birth
- Shoulder dystocia
- Brain injuries
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, and
- Other serious brain injuries.
How Can Complications From Undiagnosed Gestational Diabetes be Caused by Medical Malpractice?
Generally speaking, it is the standard of care to test for GD during pregnancy. If a provider chooses not to test for this condition, this puts mothers who actually do develop this condition at great risk as their condition could go untreated. The common causes of medical malpractice related GD complications include the following:
- Failure to test for GD
- Dismissing a woman’s symptoms of GD without conducting further testing
- Failing to treat gestational diabetes
- Inadequate monitoring of a woman with this condition
- Failing to monitor the infant appropriately after birth after a diagnosis of this condition
- If a provider is aware of a GD diagnosis and misses complications from GD (i.e. HELLP syndrome, placental abruption, preeclampsia, etc.)
- Opting for a vaginal birth instead of a cesarean when the baby is far to large for a vaginal birth or the mother or baby’s health is already compromised
These are just a few of the many ways that a healthcare provider can be held liable for complications from undiagnosed or poorly treated GD. This is because the failure to diagnose gestational diabetes in pregnancy could be very serious and life-changing medical malpractice. In fact, in Oregon it could also be life-ending medical malpractice that could result in liability for the healthcare provider. This includes the doctor such as a family care provider, the OB-GYN, a nurse, technician, hospital, practice group, or any other professional that could be responsible for the failure to diagnose gestational diagnosis in pregnancy.
Get Help from Our Lawyers to Check the Actions of Healthcare Providers in Oregon
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.
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