Doctor sued after mistaking pregnancy for ear condition


A woman has said she was “pretty distressed” to learn that she was seven months pregnant after a doctor dismissed her symptoms as inner ear problems.

After experiencing nausea, dizziness and missed periods, the woman from Carlton, Victoria, visited Dr Ruth Mitchell in April 2009. When a urine test came back negative for pregnancy, the doctor diagnosed her with an ear condition and prescribed anti-nausea medication.

The woman visited the doctor another three times, but it wasn’t until she did a home pregnancy test in August that she realised she was pregnant and subsequently had an ultrasound.

 “When the ultrasound guy said, ‘Congratulations, you’re 29 weeks pregnant,’ I just completely flipped out,” she told Herald Sun this week.

“I only had two months to work out what I was going to do, how I was going to look after [the baby].”

I only had two months to work out what I was going to do, how I was going to look after him

The woman, now 25, has launched Supreme Court action against the doctor. Her claim includes cover for medical expenses and the cost of raising her son, now three.  

“From the moment he was born and I held him in my arms, I knew I would not let anything happen to him,” she said.

The woman was a student at the time, and says she was only able to raise and her son and finish her degree with the help of her family.

“I’ve worked hard over the last three years to get my life in order so that I can give him the education and opportunities I want for him,” she said.

“That’s why we’re doing this – to try and provide him with the kind of life he deserves.”

A defence has not been filed.

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