Medical Malpractice Involving Prenatal Care
Richmond lawyers fighting for young mothers
OB-GYNs, nurses and other medical staff are responsible for monitoring the health of a mother during her pregnancy and through the labor and delivery of her baby. It is essential that they keep alert for any signs of danger that could threaten the safety of the mother and child. Failure to do so causes some of the most devastating injuries to the most vulnerable of patients.
Maternal injuries and deaths are common across the country
An in-depth study from USA TODAY revealed the extent of negligent pre-natal care and substandard management of labor and delivery in the United States. Their 2019 investigation revealed that thousands of mothers die or suffer injuries each year due to medical mistakes. They report that more than 50,000 women suffer serious complications each year during childbirth, and 700 die from those complications. Per their findings, nearly half of maternal deaths and injuries could be prevented with improved medical care.
What risks do women face before, during, and after labor?
Injuries can occur, and life-threatening medical conditions can develop, during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and post-delivery. Medical staff should be aware of the risks of these conditions and monitor the mother and her baby for sign of injury or distress. Among the most serious are:
- Uterine rupture. Uterine rupture is one of the most serious medical events that can happen to a mother and can cause severe bleeding and hemorrhaging. Sometimes drugs used to induce labor can cause a uterus to rupture, as can an especially physically traumatic delivery. Uterine rupture is a surgical emergency, and the treatment team has only minutes to intervene to save the baby.
- Preeclampsia. Also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension, preeclampsia causes high blood pressure and edema in the mother. Early treatment of preeclampsia is critical, as failure to diagnose this condition can lead to both maternal and fetal death.
- Gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes, where a mother’s blood sugars rise during pregnancy, can lead to preeclampsia and hypoglycemia in the mother, and increased blood sugar levels in the baby. This can increase the size of the baby, which makes delivery more difficult, increases the risks of shoulder dystocia, and can force doctors to perform an emergency C-section. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are also at risk for developing dangerous hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) after birth, which can lead to seizures, coma, and brain damage.
- Fetal distress during labor and delivery. Fetal distress can be caused by oxygen deprivation, changes in heart rate, umbilical cord compression, and other emergency factors. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it could lead to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or even fetal death.
- Cardiac arrest. The strain and physical effort of childbirth can cause a mother’s blood pressure to fluctuate. If not properly monitored and regulated, a mother can suffer a heart attack or stroke during delivery.
Other common injuries mothers can suffer due to inadequate and negligent maternal care include:
- Blood clots
- Loss of fertility
- Organ failure
- Spinal cord injuries from epidurals
What negligent acts can lead to maternal injuries or deaths?
Injuries to mother and child can occur at any time during the pregnancy, labor and delivery stages, and can happen as a result of impossible-to-see circumstances – or outright negligence on the part of your doctor or health care provider. Common acts of negligence during pregnancy may include:
- Failure to monitor for fetal or maternal distress
- Failure to diagnose serious conditions
- Failure to take precautions for high-risk pregnancies
- Failure to recognize symptoms of maternal infection
Examples of negligence during labor and delivery include inadequate monitoring of mother and baby, failure to recognize signs of distress, and failure to properly follow up after delivery.
Compensation for injuries from negligent maternal and prenatal care
At Phelan Petty, our experienced lawyers provide compassionate representation for families harmed by negligent doctors, OB-GYNs and other medical professionals. We fight for compensation for your losses, including:
- Current and future medical expenses for the mother and/or child
- Lost wages and loss of future earning potential
- Physical and mental pain and suffering of the mother and the family
- Loss of companionship and enjoyment of life
- Caregiving expenses
In extreme cases under rare circumstances, additional compensation may be available for the baby if he or she suffered a birth injury.
Our legal team has extensive experience in medical malpractice claims and have secured many successful settlements for our clients. Because the state of Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations on injury claims, it is crucial you contact our offices as soon as possible.