Complications During Labor and Delivery: How Medical Negligence Can Cause Trauma During Birth

Some birth injuries can be attributed to complications during labor or trauma during birth that is a result of physiological abnormalities. Others occur because of medical negligence, such as a doctor making a medical error that causes trauma during delivery.

Complications during labor or delivery can result in injuries like bruising, bleeding, facial paralysis, brachial palsy, and, in some cases, cerebral palsy or brain injury. While some birth injuries can be treated with relative ease and little long-term effect, others will have a lifelong impact. Individual circumstances dictate the liable parties, which may be discussed with Ohio medical malpractice attorneys.

Common Factors in Labor- and Delivery-Related Birth Injury

Injuries resulting from trauma during birth or complications during delivery may be attributed to lack of oxygen, trauma, or placental abnormalities, although there are other categories of injury to consider. Below, find a breakdown of some of the more widely seen causes of injury in the labor and delivery phase. 

Oxygen Deprivation 

A lack of oxygen at any stage of labor or delivery – when not fatal – can have serious, lifelong impact on a newborn. The March of Dimes cites birth complications including “asphyxia during labor and delivery” as the cause of 5-10 percent of cases of cerebral palsy. Oxygen supply can be compromised because of these and other factors

  • birth asphyxia;
  • fetal distress;
  • delayed cesarean delivery;
  • fetal monitoring errors;
  • ischemia (a restriction of blood supply to the tissues);
  • umbilical cord prolapse;
  • induced labor;
  • Pitocin overdose (the labor-inducing drug can have dangerous side effects);
  • hypoxia; and
  • meconium aspiration syndrome (occurs when a baby inhales amniotic fluid and his or her first feces and can lead to blocked airways).

Trauma During Birth 

Complications during delivery can lead to trauma and traumatic injury. In fact, any number of external forces during the process can lead to a birth injury. Some examples include: 

  • breech birth or abnormal presentation (the baby is in the wrong position);
  • prolonged or extended labor;
  • prolonged traumatic delivery;
  • large fetus;
  • forceps injuries; and
  • vacuum extraction injuries.

Placental Abnormalities 

The position and condition of the placenta can impact the process of delivery. Some examples of placental problems that can endanger a baby include:  

  • placental abruption (placenta separates from the uterine wall);
  • placental insufficiency; and
  • placenta previa (placenta is covering the cervix, impeding the birth canal).

Other Factors

Other contributing risk factors to consider include: 

  • cytotec labor injuries (labor induction);
  • eclampsia/preeclampsia;
  • hypertension;
  • premature rupture of membranes;
  • sepsis/infection;
  • multiple births;
  • uterine anomaly (unusual shape, fibroids, uterine rupture); and
  • vaginal birth after cesarean birth.

Though some of the factors mentioned above are difficult to anticipate or manage, there are steps that can be taken to prevent (and address) many of the complicating factors to reduce risk of complications during labor and delivery.

Liability for Birth Injuries During Labor and Delivery 

The risk of a birth injury can be reduced with careful monitoring of mother and baby for the duration of the pregnancy. A family physician and/or obstetrician should evaluate the mother’s health regularly to determine any special areas of concern or potential risks during delivery. Delivery room staff and physicians are responsible for maintaining control of the labor and delivery process and quickly addressing any crisis in a competent manner.

Some of the parties that can be found liable for an injury resulting from complications during labor or delivery include: 

  • family physician;
  • doula;
  • midwife;
  • obstetrician;
  • obstetric nurse; and
  • hospital staff.

In many cases of birth injury one or more factors are at play. This makes it particularly important to seek a thorough review of the process by an objective party with a strong knowledge of birth injury. An expert may be able to assess the situation and help to determine if medical negligence or medical malpractice were deciding factors in an injury from complications during labor or trauma during birth.

Do I have a case relating to birth injury from complications during labor and delivery? 

Birth injury can have a lifelong impact on a child and his or her family. It may mean a diminished quality of life and substantial medical bills. If your family has been touched by such a tragedy – including a child who has been recently diagnosed with cerebral palsy – it may be beneficial to seek the input ofOhiomedical malpractice attorneys.

Mellino Robenalt, LLC can review the details of cases involving trauma during birth as well as the liability of health care professionals. Contact our legal team at 440-333-3800 to set up a consultation withOhio medical malpractice attorneys to go over injuries resulting from complications during labor and delivery.

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