Viewers throughout the country have become hooked on the series "Downton Abbey" which chronicles the lives of the occupants of an English country estate. It is likely that many of those individuals were devastated with the death of one of the series' most likeable characters due to childbirth complications in an episode that aired a couple weeks ago. Sybil Crawley Branson gave birth to a daughter before succumbing to eclampsia, a pregnancy related condition which, in the worst cases, can lead to death of both the mother and child.
While the death itself was an unwelcomed surprise to many, for some it was exacerbated by the fact that the doctor in charge of the delivery appears to have ignored the symptoms of the condition. This is despite the woman's regular doctor pointing it out on more than one occasion. By the time the doctor in charge recognized the issue, it was too late to save the new mother.
To be fair, in the 1920s–the time period in which the series takes place–there was likely little that could have been done to save her life. While a Caesarian Section could have possibly spared her, it was not guaranteed and such surgeries were not as common as they are today which meant they presented a different set of risks.
Fortunately, for expecting mothers today, prenatal appointments are very different today than during the time period at which the series takes place. Symptoms of eclampsia such as elevated blood pressure and excessive swelling are commonly monitored at checkups throughout the pregnancy. Nonetheless, should something like this occur today? A medical malpractice lawsuit could be warranted due to the failure to diagnose the condition in a timely manner.
Source: MSN, "'Downton Abbey' is hit with tragedy," Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, Jan. 28, 2013
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