Obstetric negligence can result in infection, loss of fertility, stillbirth, cerebral palsy, and death of the baby and/or the mother. Hospitals, doctors, and nurses who treat pregnant women are required to provide a duty of care that will protect the mother and the baby during pregnancy and childbirth.
What Is Obstetric Negligence?
The word “obstetrics” refers to the type of medical care that deals with pregnancy and childbirth. This includes the time period throughout a woman’s pregnancy, as well as the processes leading up to and including childbirth. Obstetric negligence can result in various types of medical malpractice claims. A medical malpractice lawyer may file claims against any or all parties including hospital staff, surgeons, physicians, and nurses who treat a pregnant patient during pregnancy and childbirth.
Pregnancy and childbirth involve different aspects of medical care and treatment, so obstetric negligence can occur in many ways. In order to be found liable for negligence, the person must breach a duty of care that they owe to the patient, and the breach of duty must be the direct cause of the person’s injuries or losses. Some examples of obstetric negligence include:
- Medical misdiagnosis during pregnancy or childbirth
- Incorrect medications or treatments during pregnancy
- Incorrect advice or medical treatment regarding gestational diabetes
- Medical errors resulting in premature birth, birth injuries or birth defects
- Errors with anesthesia or procedures during labor
- Surgical negligence related to a Cesarean section operation
Consequences of Obstetric Negligence
Obstetric negligence can result in a variety of serious problems for both the mother and the baby. Cerebral palsy, one of the most common birth injuries caused by obstetric negligence, results from decreased oxygen and blood flow to the baby’s brain prior to birth, or by mistakes made during delivery. Major risks to babies during pregnancy, labor, and delivery are:
Oxygen deprivation can result in brain damage, and excessive oxygen deprivation can be fatal to a baby in the womb. Obstetricians and obstetrical nurses must be trained to recognize the warning signs that a baby may be experiencing oxygen deprivation.
Reduced Blood Flow
If blood flow is reduced to a baby in utero, results can be fatal. Blood carries vital nutrients and oxygen to a baby’s developing brain and other organs. When blood flow is reduced or cut off for too long, the baby’s organs will shut down.
Trauma During Delivery
When a delivery is complicated by a baby in distress, doctors must consider the delivery an emergency situation. Trauma during delivery caused by forceps or a vacuum extractor can cause permanent injury or death. An improperly performed cesarean section can be fatal to the baby. When obstetric negligence occurs, doctors can be held liable for injuries and medical malpractice damages.
Medical Malpractice Claims
Children who sustain birth injuries due to obstetric negligence often need lifetime care that can cost millions of dollars. A medical malpractice case filed through a medical malpractice lawyer is typically a family’s only chance to receive necessary resources. Most medical negligence and medical malpractice claims result in a damage award. In cases that involve serious injuries or fatalities, damage awards can be substantial. Damages are usually calculated to cover various losses such as hospitals costs, medical bills, and lost wages. If obstetric negligence occurs, a medical malpractice lawyer can explain a patient’s rights for seeking recovery against negligent parties. Obstetric negligence can result in loss of operating license and civil fines. In gross negligence cases, criminal consequences may result.