Negligence During Labor and Delivery
Substandard Care During Labor and Delivery
GIVING BIRTH IS A NATURAL PROCESS, BUT IT CAN ALSO INVOLVE UNEXPECTED DANGERS FOR BOTH MOTHER AND CHILD.
Labor and delivery rooms tend to be chaotic, and decisions have to be made quickly. If medical mistakes and negligence enter the picture, the consequences can be severe injury or even death.
Take the example of a Pennsylvania mother who has filed a birth injury lawsuit claiming that medical malpractice during the labor and delivery led to permanent, disabling injuries to her child. The mother claims that the physician “relied on information provided by other medical providers and did not perform his own pelvic and abdominal examination.” Also, despite the fact that two other doctors who had been monitoring the mother advised her that a cesarean section was needed, the physician did a vacuum delivery instead. The results were severe brachial plexus injuries to the child, who will never have normal use of his arm.
Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann handled a case where a doctor who was not an ob-gyn was delivering a baby. The baby was in a breech position, and the doctor never knew it. The appropriate tests and examinations were not performed, even though the doctor claimed otherwise. When an obstetritian finally arrived, there was a suggestion that the frustrated family practice doctor virtually threw the scissors at that doctor. The obstetritian got the baby out immediately and within a matter of seconds, but the child was deceased. This resulted in a very substantial settlement for the family.
If you or your child has suffered a labor or delivery injury due to the negligent care of the hospital, delivering physician or midwife, neonatal nurses, anesthesiologist or other medical staff, you may be entitled to compensation. The Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney, Cliff Rieders, of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing families who have suffered an injury due to negligence and malpractice by medical professionals and hospitals. His deep sense of compassion and loyalty to each client drives him to pursue each claim vigorously to get you the compensation you deserve.
Since medical malpractice law is highly regulated by a complex body of rules and statutes, we are happy to speak with people who call us. We talk with you and, when it is appropriate, we gather medical records. There are many occasions when it is also appropriate to obtain a medical review. Contact us if you believe your injury or your child’s injury or death was due to medical negligence.
What is Negligence?
All through the labor and delivery process, it is essential that both mother and child are monitored for signs of fetal distress and complications. Obstetricians, midwives, and other medical professionals who assist in the birth of a child are held to standards appropriate to their specialized profession. They have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of both mother and child. If they do not follow these procedures and damage results, the professional may be found negligent and liable for any resulting harm.
Cliff Rieders handled a case involving a mother who was not properly monitored for diabetes during pregnancy. The doctor sent the mother to an ob-gyn, but neither the first doctor nor the ob-gyn properly monitored the woman and, as a result, her baby died. Even the mother suffered serious injuries. Thanks to the efforts of Cliff Rieders, very significant compensation was obtained.
In order to recover damages, it is necessary to show negligence, meaning a lack of compliance with the standard of care, factual cause and harm as a result of the negligence.
In Pennsylvania, the law may consider contributory negligence. Damages or harm you may have sustained could be reduced if you have done something to contribute to the problem (if, for example, you have gone against medical advice). Even in that situation, there are cases where the patient may be given the benefit of the doubt.
Common Negligence Situations
There are many things that medical professionals must do during and after labor and delivery to make sure nothing goes wrong. The following are examples of errors which may be found to constitute medical negligence or malpractice during labor and delivery:
- Failure to monitor, detect, and respond to distress in the mother or fetus
- Oxygen deprivation to the fetus during labor and delivery
- Leaving the fetus in the birth canal for too long
- Forceps or vacuum used improperly
- Failure to diagnose the need for a cesarian section, to order a cesarian section when needed, to properly perform a cesarian section, or performing a cesarian section unnecessarily
- Failure to detect and respond to an umbilical cord around the fetus’s neck, breech presentation of the fetus, and/or placental complications
- Pulling or stretching of a baby’s neck during a head-first vaginal delivery
- A midwife’s failure to refer a patient to a hospital when necessary
- Failure to call a specialist for high-risk pregnancies
- Failure to use proper delivery techniques to prevent injury to the fetus or mother
- Anesthesia errors and failure to recognize anesthesia reactions
- Causing uterine rupture by improperly applying pressure to the mother’s abdomen or improperly using drugs such as Pitocin
- Failure to recognize and manage preeclampsia or eclampsia (toxemia), which can lead to seizures
- Giving the wrong medicine or wrong dose
- Failure to determine whether the fetus is in the proper position for delivery.
Should injury or death result from labor and delivery negligence, it certainly may demonstrate negligence, assuming there is also what Pennsylvania law calls factual cause. In some situations, the hospital may also be found directly liable for negligence or negligence of its employees. We call that corporate negligence or, in some cases, vicarious liability. To obtain compensation, your attorney would still need to prove that the medical professional breached the duty of care and that this breach caused the injury or death.
What Are Delivery Options?
While most women in the United States choose obstetricians (ob-gyn) to deliver their babies, there are options. Those who feel more secure with a hospital birth can choose an ob-gyn, a family physician, or a certified nurse-midwife as primary caregiver. Mothers who wish to give birth at home or in a birthing center may choose the assistance of a certified nurse-midwife or a direct-entry midwife.
Midwives do well with natural childbirth and normal labor and deliveries, but if something goes wrong they must call 911 and have the patient transported to the hospital. If a C-section is necessary, an ob-gyn would need to do the surgery. Midwives should work in conjunction with an ob-gyn in case of emergency.
Should the midwife fail to act promptly in an emergency situation and injury or death to the mother or child resulted, the midwife could be found medically negligent.
In Central Pennsylvania, ob-gyns are frequently not involved in the delivery of babies and the person assisting in the delivery may be a general family physician or even a nurse midwife. This can lead to problems. The law in Pennsylvania imposes certain obligations on doctors to supervise nurse midwives.
Trust Our Firm for Honest Answers
If you or your newborn has suffered from complications that you suspect were due to a healthcare professional’s negligent behavior, let us review the circumstances and determine whether you are eligible for financial damages. We have the resources and experience required to analyze these complex cases and determine whether malpractice occurred.
Working with a skilled team of legal and medical professionals, we will seek to determine whether medical negligence was responsible, and we will fight to ensure you receive the maximum possible amount of compensation.
Medical malpractice law is highly regulated by a complex body of rules and laws. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, the experienced attorney Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann is familiar with the law and thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome. With our sizeable staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.
If you or your loved one has suffered from labor and delivery injury, do not delay. Consult Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling (570) 323-8711 for a free consultation, or use our online contact form.
Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.
Remember, Cliff Rieders was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania. Cliff Rieders wrote the book on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the state. Cliff teaches the subject of medical malpractice at seminars attended by the leading lawyers in the state. Cliff Rieders is recognized as an outstanding authority in the medical malpractice field. Cliff has even testified before the legislature on medical malpractice laws. Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice in the medical malpractice and pharmaceutical/vitamin supplement fields.
We represent people throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Cliff Rieders is admitted in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.