What constitutes medical negligence during childbirth?

Medical negligence in pregnancy and childbirth can be separated into different categories. It may include unsatisfactory care during pregnancy including failing to diagnose common pregnancy related illnesses. Negligence during childbirth can also including improper fetal monitoring, delaying an emergency c-section, incorrectly administering an epidural, mistakes during use of forceps or vacuum and failure to act when the baby is in the birth canal too long. If the mother or baby is injured during childbirth, then it may be possible to claim compensation with the assistance of a specialist birth injury attorney.

What are considered birth injuries?

In newborn babies, a birth injury (often called ‘neonatal birth trauma’) can include many things, from bruising to a broken bone. In mothers, birth injuries range from tearing in the vaginal area to damage to the pelvic floor.

Serious birth injuries can include respiratory distress due to inhaled meconium during birth, brain damage due to reduced oxygen supply during birth, broken bones, displaced joints, loss of hearing or loss of sight.

birth injury

What are some of the most common complications of pregnancy?

These complications are well known issues that occur during many births. However, failing to spot them or act on them which results in a birth injury may be considered medical negligence.

  • Labor that does not progress. Sometimes contractions weaken, the cervix does not dilate enough or in a timely manner, or the infant’s descent in the birth canal does not proceed smoothly. If labor is not progressing, a health care provider may give the woman medications to increase contractions and speed up labor, or the woman may need a cesarean delivery. This is more common in first-time pregnancies.
  • Perineal tears. A woman’s vagina and the surrounding tissues are likely to tear during the delivery process. Sometimes these tears heal on their own. If a tear is more serious or the woman has had an episiotomy (a surgical cut between the vagina and anus), her provider will help repair the tear using stitches.
  • Problems with the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord may get caught on an arm or leg as the infant travels through the birth canal. A provider may need to intervene if the cord becomes wrapped around the infant’s neck, is compressed, or comes out before the infant.
  • Abnormal heart rate of the baby. Many times, an abnormal heart rate during labor does not mean that there is a problem. A health care provider will likely ask the woman to switch positions to help the infant get more blood flow. In certain instances, delivery might have to happen right away. In this situation, the woman is more likely to need an emergency cesarean delivery.
  • Water breaking early. Labor usually starts on its own within 24 hours of the woman’s water breaking. If not, and if the pregnancy is at or near term, the provider will likely induce labor. If a pregnant woman’s water breaks before 34 weeks of pregnancy, the woman will be monitored in the hospital. Infection can become a major concern if the woman’s water breaks early and labor does not begin on its own.
  • Perinatal asphyxia. This condition occurs when the fetus does not get enough oxygen in the uterus or the infant does not get enough oxygen during labor or delivery or just after birth. It can usually be detected by fetal heart rate monitoring as the heart beat will slow down if the baby is not getting enough oxygen.
  • Shoulder dystocia. In this situation, the infant’s head has come out of the vagina, but one of the shoulders becomes stuck.
  • Excessive bleeding. If delivery results in tears to the uterus, or if the uterus does not contract to deliver the placenta, heavy bleeding can result.

If you believe that you may have a case for birth injury compensation then contact the legal team at Stalwart Law to book a consultation.

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