The Many Faces of Medical Malpractice, Part 2: Obstetric/Gynecological Negligence

This week’s blog in our medical malpractice series will center on negligence affecting pregnancy or childbirth, or obstetric/gynecological negligence.

Medical negligence affecting a mother or a baby during pregnancy or birth is an unfortunately common issue. This is despite advances in medical technology over the course of the last century. Simply put, having a baby is complicated and it is easy for something to go wrong when doctors are negligent.

The following list, by no means exhaustive, shows some of the most common ways childbirth can lead to birth injuries:

  • Excessive or unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormalities in the placenta, such as placental abruption
  • Long-lasting labor that injures the mother or child
  • Preeclampsia, which can lead to organ damage (often kidney damage)
  • Hemorrhaging during birth
  • Surgical errors during Caesarian sections (C-sections)
  • Negligence in the administration of epidurals or anesthesia
  • Premature birth
  • Shoulder dystocia in the child

Common Birth Injuries That May Result from Negligence

  • Brachial plexus injury. This occurs in roughly one in 1,000 births. It may be caused by improper delivery practices. The brachial plexus is a cluster of nerve groups extending throughout the body. Improper delivery can damage these nerves and cause long term disability in the child. These injuries are also known as Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy.
  • Cerebral palsy. This condition results in impaired movement and motor function, as well as damage to the brain. Improper use of equipment by doctors and even failure to treat jaundice can lead to cerebral palsy.
  • Spina bifida. This occurs when the embryonic neural tube fails to seal prior to birth. Failure to diagnose the condition before birth may entitle the parent to recovery through a wrongful birth lawsuit.
  • Brain injury due to lack of oxygen, known as hypoxia. When hypoxia occurs, the damage can result in developmental delays and can lead to death.
  • Wrongful death of the baby or mother due to complications from birth. The risk of this occurrence is significantly higher when a medical team acts negligently.