Mother sues doctor after ‘cyst’ turns out to be baby
A 41-YEAR-OLD mother of four had the shock of her life when she went to hospital for a scan on a suspected cyst – and was told it had arms and legs.
• Woman alleges that she was told by doctor that she was not pregnant but had a thyroid problem
• Court hears urine test labels were mixed and her sample was never tested for pregnancy
• Alleges she was unwittingly given radioactive iodine treatment after falling pregnant
• Her son was born with a damaged thyroid gland which she says was caused by the treatment
Anne Perrie had thought a couple of months earlier that she might be pregnant but, a court heard, a doctor had
assured her she was mistaken.
It later emerged that a urine sample she had given for a pregnancy test had been mis-labelled and had been subjected to the wrong test.
Without realising she was
carrying a baby, Ms Perrie, of Buckhaven, Fife, had treatment which damaged the foetus and she is now claiming compensation in a medical negligence
action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
The allegations of negligence are denied by The Cannons medical practice of Methil, Fife, and Dr Pauline Fleming, of
The court heard that Ms
Perrie, now 57, felt unwell and
sick in late 1996 and thought
she could be pregnant. She believed her nausea was morning sickness.
She already had four children, the youngest of whom was 12, and provided blood and urine for tests.
Lawyers for Ms Perrie said that, in error, staff at The Cannons practice sent the urine for bacteriological rather than pregnancy testing and when
she went back for the results,
she was told by Dr Fleming, a locum there at the time, that she was not pregnant and that
the results suggested a thyroid problem.
“Ms Perrie was reassured that she was not pregnant, a prospect which had been causing her some concern given her age and the size and stage of her family. She already had four children living with her,” the lawyers stated. Ms Perrie was started on medication and referred to hospital for further, specialist treatment. It involved receiving radioactive iodine which, the court heard, should not be given during pregnancy.
By March 1997, she continued to feel unwell and had found a lump in her abdomen. She was advised she had a fibroid or cyst, and was sent to hospital for a scan.
“The scanner said that if it was a fibroid, it had arms and legs. Subsequently, it was confirmed that she was pregnant.
“The radioactive iodine was administered when she was
17 weeks’ pregnant,” the judge, Lord Jones, was told.
Ms Perrie had a son, Ross, now 15, and he has been found to have a damaged thyroid gland and will need medication every day for the rest of his life.
In the action, Ms Perrie is seeking £80,000 on behalf of her her son.
It is claimed that any competently organised GP practice would have robust systems to ensure that a sample provided for a specific test, such as pregnancy, was sent for that test and not some other which the GP had not requested.
Also, it is claimed Dr Fleming had a duty not to tell Ms Perrie she was not pregnant, when she did not have available to her the result of a pregnancy test. Dr Fleming denies telling Ms Perrie she was not pregnant.
She insists that what she said was that the result of her pregnancy test was not available at that time.
The blood tests had indicated an overactive thyroid gland and she told Ms Perrie the plan was to refer her to a specialist for further assessment.
The Cannons practice says it was not liable for Dr Fleming, but it agreed that all she had told Ms Perrie was that the pregnancy test result was not back as yet. It denies that its staff were to blame for any injury to Ms
At a preliminary hearing, the practice asked Lord Jones to dismiss the case against it.
The judge will give his ruling later.
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