No couple goes to the hospital to have a baby expecting a medical provider to commit a serious act of negligence that permanently impacts the health of the baby, mother, or both. While medical personnel are only human and will sometimes make mistakes, the law expects them to meet professional standards and not make errors leading to serious injury or death.
Below we discuss some of the most common causes of professional negligence that can lead to birth injury.
Excessive Blood Loss
According to the American Pregnancy Association, women who give birth vaginally can lose up to 500 milliliters of blood with no complications or 1,000 milliliters for a Cesarean section. Postpartum hemorrhaging can occur up to 12 weeks after the birth if a woman loses more than this. The potential complications include low blood pressure, organ failure, shock, or even death.
Typical causes of excessive bleeding include prolonged labor, obesity, hypertension, and having giving birth many times. It normally occurs after delivery of the placenta. Possible ways to prevent too much blood loss include an immediate hysterectomy, tying of bleeding blood vessels, uterine massage, and surgical removal of parts of the retained placenta.
Fetal distress could include an irregular heartbeat, difficulty with movement, low muscle tone, not enough amniotic fluid, or one of several other problems. It’s most common when the mother has gone at least two weeks past her due date.
Pre-existing health complications in either the mother or baby can lead to fetal distress. The attending physician should move quickly by ensuring the mother has an adequate level of oxygen, increasing hydration, or changing her laboring position. If the unborn baby is still in obvious distress, the doctor needs to perform a prompt Cesarean section.
Not Intervening in Prolonged Labor
A first-time mother has officially reached the point of prolonged labor after 20 hours and a mother who has labored before reaches this point after 14 hours. It occurs in approximately eight percent of all births. These are some of the most common reasons for prolonged labor:
- Mother is delivering multiple babies
- Baby is larger than average
- Slow dilation and/or effacement
- Birth canal or pelvis too small to deliver safely
- Mother’s fear, stress, or other strong emotions are preventing labor progress
It is up to the attending physician to recognize these conditions and take appropriate action.
This means that the doctor has failed to start or sustain the newborn’s breathing. The attending doctor must resolve it promptly to avoid problems such as excess acid in the baby’s blood, too much carbon dioxide, and/or not enough oxygen. Perinatal asphyxia can also cause heart and internal organ malfunction. A baby born with this condition will usually score low on the APGAR test for up to five minutes. Typical symptoms include:
- Infant gasping for air and displaying weak breathing
- Low muscle tone
- Decreased heart rate
- Meconium-stained amniotic fluid
- Abnormal skin color
A uterine rupture can occur in women who attempt a vaginal birth after a previous Cesarean section when the surgery scar opens during delivery. This is an emergency that requires medical providers to act promptly to prevent excessive bleeding by the mother or oxygen deprivation for the baby. Large fetal size, mother’s age over 35, the use of forceps, and the induction of labor are typical risk factors for uterine rupture.
A doctor can determine this problem when the mother or baby has an abnormal heart rate, labor progresses slowly, the mother’s pain is uncontrollable, or she experiences excessive bleeding during delivery.
Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer Today
When determining liability in a personal injury case, the jury looks at whether the provider acted in a manner consistent with his or her training and experience and used appropriate professional judgment. If you feel that did not happen in your situation, please contact us at Tentinger Law Firm to request your free legal consultation.