One type of medical situation that almost always requires investigation is when there is a case of injury to the mother or baby in the gestational period or in the birthing process. Medical malpractice during birth is more common than one might think.
It may seem obvious, but the physician’s “patient” in an obstetric scenario is really two patients; both the mother and baby. The physician owes the duty of good care to both of his patients throughout the time the baby is in the womb, through the birthing process, and into the neonatal period. The physician then hands the baby off to either neonatologists or pediatricians for care. The obstetrician maintains the care of the mother until she is released.
There are many potential issues that can lead to problems for the baby and mother. We mention some of the more common ones below. But, if you or your baby have suffered a medical injury while under the care of an obstetrician, you should have us review the case, period. These cases are very complicated. You, as the patient, won’t likely know exactly what went wrong. We, however, can help you look at complicated medical information, and get answers.
In our last medical malpractice blog post, we discussed that certain injuries from medical mistakes may not have severe consequences. We concluded that our system most likely will not compensate these victims of medical negligence.
If you are unsure if your injury qualifies, the attorneys at Osterbind Law PLLC can help you. Our attorneys are experienced in assessing this aspect of a potential malpractice case.
But what about medical malpractice that occurs during childbirth? Medical malpractice during birth can happen to anyone. The following are just a few examples of what that may look like:
1. Failure to Recognize Fetal Oxygenation
Many cases have to do with failure to recognize the fact that fetal oxygenation was compromised during the birthing process. The physician or nurse will insert a monitor that follows the baby’s heart rate during the birthing process. If the monitor tracings have an abnormal configuration the medical staff should respond to that immediately. Then, they should assess the reason for that abnormal configuration and take action. During the birthing process itself, placental abruption or abnormal separation of the placenta can lead to fetal oxygen issues as well. Decreased fetal oxygenation can lead to an injury to the baby.
The failure to monitor and recognize these issues can constitute medical malpractice.
2. Failure to Recognize Excessive Contractions
The physician or nurses also place a monitor that measures the number and strength of contractions. As with the oxygen monitor, the contraction monitor needs to be watched closely. This is because excessive contractions can lead to fetal distress and potential injury. Ignoring signs of fetal distress can lead to significant injury.
If the baby is suffering from fetal distress, the physician must decide quickly and decisively how to proceed. Because one obstetrician may be caring for multiple patients at one time, there may be a failure to make a timely decision leading to untoward consequences. If the doctor cannot alleviate the fetal distress, the physician may need to use devices to assist in the birth of the baby. Alternatively, the physician may perform an emergency C-section.
Injury to Mothers
The mother can experience injury during gestation or the birthing process as well. The physician must recognize the signs and symptoms of uterine rupture, for example. The physician must appropriately care for the mother after the baby is born, restore the birth canal, and prevent infection or excessive bleeding.
In a subsequent blog post, we will discuss Virginia’s unique law concerning babies born with neurological injuries. The attorneys at Osterbind Law PPLC have extreme compassion for mothers and babies that have been injured by the medical care system. All cases are important, but these cases are special because we recognize and value the bond of mother and baby. If you have a potential medical malpractice case concerning you or your child that occurred during gestation or birthing please let us show you how we can vigorously pursue your claim and at the same time show infinite compassion.