When a mother is seriously or fatally injured during childbirth, the infant and family also suffer. This can be an extremely stressful time for the family as family members try to care for the newborn while suffering worry or grief involving the mother. The family will have questions and concerns, but may not know how to get help.
Speaking with an experienced birth injury medical malpractice attorney is a good first step toward addressing your questions and concerns. A knowledgeable birth injury attorney can review the medical records and evaluate whether the mother’s injuries were likely caused by a preventable medical error.
The attorneys at The Colleran Firm can help you recover the compensation that you need after a mother has sustained preventable injuries during child delivery. Four of our five attorneys are members of the same family and we understand how a serious injury or the loss of a loved one can affect the cohesiveness of a family. Please contact us for a free consultation with a compassionate Philadelphia birth injury attorney. We are available to answer your questions.
Many things can go wrong during childbirth. But obstetricians are trained to anticipate potential delivery complications and to know how to respond to them effectively while minimizing the risk to the mother and child. When an injury or wrongful death is caused by negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse or midwife, the family may be able to hold the at-fault party and their malpractice insurance provider accountable.
A mother may suffer perineal tears during a vaginal delivery if the baby’s head is too large for the vagina to stretch and accommodate. Vaginal tears range in severity from 1st degree, which are the least severe and heal within weeks, to fourth degree. Third-degree tears involve the perineal muscles that help support the uterus and bladder, and the sphincter muscle that encircles the anus. Fourth degree perineal tears involve damage to the perineal muscles, the sphincter muscle and the tissue lining the rectum and typically require surgery to repair. The complications can include incontinence and pain during intercourse.
This surgical incision into the perineum was once routinely made during delivery to help prevent more extensive vaginal tearing. A doctor may still recommend an episiotomy in some cases if extensive tearing looks likely or a baby needs to be delivered quickly. Episiotomy may increase the risk of anal sphincter tears and loss of blood. An episiotomy may cause incontinence or pain during intercourse in the months afterward.
A C-section can cause injuries to nearby organs such as the bladder or bowel. The risk of developing a blood clot is more likely after a C-section. If the clot reaches the lung, it can cause a life-threatening injury. Women who attempt a vaginal delivery after a having had a C-section are at more risk of a uterine rupture, in which the uterus tears along the scar of the previous C-section. A surgical injury during a C-section may require a follow-up surgical procedure.
Some bleeding is common, but the loss of more than 500 mL of blood after delivery is defined as postpartum hemorrhage. Hemorrhaging occurs in about one out of five deliveries. It is the most common factor in the death of mothers after deliveries in developed countries. Lacerations during a C-section can cause excessive bleeding. Avoiding routine use of episiotomy can reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.
The use of forceps during delivery may cause a forceps injury to the mother, including injuries to the urethra and bladder, genital tract tears, incontinence and injury to the perineum, the tissue between the vagina and anus. Nearly 157,000 potentially preventable injuries to mothers and newborns occurred in one year, with vaginal births assisted by tools such as forceps accounting for the highest injury rates, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a federal agency.
Placental abruption is a serious complication that can put the health of the mother and baby at risk if not addressed promptly. The placenta develops during pregnancy to provide nourishment to the developing fetus. If the placenta breaks loose from the wall of the uterus before delivery, it can cause heavy vaginal bleeding and may prevent the baby from receiving oxygen and nutrients. Emergency care should be sought if an expectant woman experiences vaginal bleeding, severe back pain, abdominal pain or rapid uterine contractions.
The trauma of a difficult delivery may cause psychological injuries to the mother that are known collectively as postpartum traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is more common among women having a vaginal delivery. A 2015 study by researchers at McGill University found that a third of postpartum women have some symptoms of PTSD and 3 to 7 percent have PTSD. Treatment for PTSD may involve psychotherapy to manage anxiety so the PTSD does not take control of their life.
Prenatal care is important to monitor the health of the mother and fetus and identify any health conditions that may pose a risk. The failure to provide adequate prenatal care and to diagnose certain serious conditions that women may develop during pregnancy may result in serious harm to the woman and baby. Some conditions if not managed may be passed to the developing fetus.
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that some women develop during pregnancy because their body is not producing enough insulin. If a woman has high blood sugar levels because gestational diabetes is not being managed, the baby will have high blood sugar. Gestational diabetes also increases the risk of developing preeclampsia.
Some women develop preeclampsia during the second half of pregnancy. It is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and too much protein in the urine. If a woman develops preeclampsia, she may need to be hospitalized or her doctor may recommend performing a C-section to deliver the baby early. If the condition is not properly diagnosed through prenatal testing and treated promptly, it can cause kidney failure and liver damage and result in a low birth weight baby. Pre-eclampsia can lead to eclampsia, which can put the mother and baby at risk.
Sharp pain in the pelvis and vaginal bleeding may be signs of an ectopic pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg remains inside a blocked fallopian tube rather than attaching inside the uterus. If a fallopian tube has ruptured and started bleeding, emergency surgery may be required to remove the tube and stop the bleeding. Ectopic pregnancies occur in about one of every 50 pregnancies.
Complications can occur if the mother has a negative Rh factor and the baby is Rh positive. A pregnant woman’s body can produce antibodies that can harm the developing fetus if the condition is not diagnosed and addressed. An Rh factor test is a basic blood test that is given during the first prenatal visit. If you are Rh negative, you may need an antibody screen at intervals during the pregnancy.
A preventable mistake by a doctor during delivery can result in fatal injuries to the mother. Women die of injuries during childbirth that are a result of substandard care and are preventable. This can create stress for the family as it tries to care for the newborn while grieving for a lost loved one. The immediate family of a mother who has died from injuries in childbirth may be entitled to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Speak with a compassionate attorney at The Colleran Firm about your legal options if you suspect that your loved one’s death was a result of medical negligence.
Whether a preventable medical error occurred during prenatal care or injuries to the mother occurred during labor and delivery, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the negligent party to help with your medical expenses related to the injury. It is important to come forward if you have been injured and determine how your birth injury occurred. Holding an at-fault doctor accountable for a birth injury may help prevent other women from sustaining similar injuries during childbirth.
If you have suffered injuries while delivering a baby, a compassionate medical malpractice attorney at The Colleran Firm can evaluate whether the injury was a result of medical negligence. We can help you seek compensation in medical negligence cases for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs and expenses that you may be entitled to collect.