Results from a Canadian study found that several women, including at least one from Hartford, Connecticut, have been misdiagnosed with ectopic pregnancies. The mothers were either subsequently given a powerful drug called methotrexate, which caused miscarriages or severe deformations, or were advised to have the pregnancies terminated on the basis of the misdiagnosis.

Researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children say it is likely more common than it appears. The misdiagnosed pregnancies are likely unreported due to the physicians’ fears of legal problems, researchers report.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found 8 cases in the United States and Canada. Three cases were identified at a hospital in Toronto, while the others were found at hospitals in Hartford and San Diego.

According to the findings, some of the cases involve emergency room doctors with limited training in analyzing ultrasound images. The inexperience can lead to mistakenly identifying healthy pregnancies as ectopic. An ectopic pregnancy is one in which the embryo develops outside the womb, where it can cause life-threatening complications for the woman.

An ectopic pregnancy diagnosis is often followed by surgery to end the pregnancy, or administration of a drug such as methotrexate. None of the cases used in the study resulted in a healthy birth. Two continued to delivery, where one of the babies was born “severely malformed,” with cardiac disease, a missing kidney and skeletal deformities. The other delivery occurred at 30 weeks, producing a stillborn baby with similar birth defects.

Three of the women miscarried due to the drug used for an ectopic pregnancy, and three others had abortions on the advice of their doctors. “All eight women reported significant emotional suffering as a result of misdiagnosis and dire outcomes,” the article says.

If you believe you’ve suffered as a result of a serious medical mistake, contact the experienced Connecticut medical malpractice attorneys at Berkowitz and Hanna LLC. Our attorneys are experienced in medical malpractice law and are committed to helping affected patients and families.