Monday, October 13, 2008

Misdiagnosed Miscarriages

This is something I've been thinking about a lot recently. I remember at the ultrasound where they told me the baby no longer had a heartbeat, and that I was going to miscarry - the first thing the doctor asked me was whether I would like to take medication to help the miscarriage happen faster. The drug he was offering me was the same one they use to induce abortions. I refused, opting to wait until my body decided to miscarry on its own.

In my case, there was no question that the diagnosis was correct, as I miscarried naturally about a week later. But the diagnosis of miscarriage is not 100% correct, as this website so clearly shows. These days, I think doctors are too quick to believe the internal ultrasounds, which can in some cases detect the baby's heartbeat before 6 weeks. The technology is really amazing, but it's not infallible. Sometimes there's a twin hiding behind the miscarried baby. Sometimes the woman has a uterus that is tilted such that the ultrasound machine can't quite see the baby. Sometimes the pregnancy hasn't been properly dated, so an ultrasound in another week or two would show what's missing.

As I read through some of the stories, I was amazed at just how many times the woman's doctor insisted he had "never seen this happen before". Perhaps the doctors have never seen it before because they are so quick to offer drugs and surgery after a diagnosis of miscarriage?

I have seen many women go through painful and emotional losses, whether via natural miscarriage, medication, or a D&C (surgery). I wonder how many of those women suffered needlessly? How many of those miscarriages were simply a misdiagnosis that could have ended in a healthy baby? I'm sure the number is very low - most of the time the doctors are probably right - but to me, even one woman needlessly losing a baby she loves because of a misdiagnosis is too many.

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  • Homeschoolin' hot-rodders

    Wow! thats horrible. I have had 8 miscarriages and have never had a physician ask me if I wanted meds to help it along. I started a new physician just before my last miscarriage and he wouldn't even declare it a miscarriage until my beta had decreased consistantly for a week, although we *knew* this was more than likely the outcome. I too wonder how many women have gone through that painful experience needlessly :(


  • Headmistress, zookeeper

    I think the numbers are higher than they should be. I know a woman, a Christian, whose numbers never did decrease, but they told her she had miscarried and they needed to finish the process medically, which they did. She told me later, when she had a baby who survived, that she'd realized that her first child probably was still alive when they told her she'd miscarried.

    I was on a mailing list for large families, and a shocking number of women had stories about being told they'd miscarried when they had not.

    It is a heartbreaking thing to contemplate.