C-sections, a surgical procedure that brings joy to countless families by safely delivering new life into the world, are among the most common surgeries performed in the United States. Yet, as frequent as they may be, they are not without their risks and complications.
Errors Often Made During C-sections
While no C-section is without some risk, some risks and complications are avoidable. Here are some of the common errors made during a C-section that may lead to a malpractice suit:
- Fetal laceration during C-section. Unfortunately, in some cases, the baby is accidentally cut during the C-section process. While most lacerations are minor, severe cases can lead to permanent scarring or even life-threatening injuries.
- Lacerated bowels and internal organs. The surgeon may inadvertently cut or damage the mother's internal organs during the procedure, leading to serious complications such as infection, bowel obstruction, or long-term health issues.
- Broken bones. In some cases, the baby's bones may be broken during the delivery process. This is often due to improper handling or excessive force used during the procedure.
- Oxygen deprivation. If a C-section is delayed or improperly performed, the baby may suffer from a lack of oxygen. This can result in brain damage or other serious health conditions.
- Objects left in the mother’s body. There have been instances where surgical tools or sponges are accidentally left inside the mother's body post-surgery, leading to infection, pain, and further surgeries to remove the object.
- Too much blood loss. Women should only lose about four cups of blood during a C-section. However, hemorrhage, or excessive blood loss, can occur if the surgeon accidentally cuts a blood vessel or fails to properly suture blood vessels during the C-section. This can lead to shock, organ failure, or even death if not promptly addressed.
- Failure to get the mother to move around after delivery. It's important for the mother to move around as soon as possible after the C-section to prevent blood clots. Negligence in encouraging this can lead to deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Medical staff may also be held liable for negligence if they fail to offer adequate aftercare or aftercare instructions to the mother in other ways.
- Anesthesia errors. Anesthesia is a critical part of the C-section process. Errors in its administration can lead to complications like allergic reactions, nerve damage, and, in severe cases, death.
What Is Medical Malpractice for Unnecessary C-section?
32.1% of births are Cesarean deliveries (C-sections), and the World Health Organization (WHO) projects that the number of C-sections will continue to rise globally. While numerous factors have contributed to the increase in the rate of C-sections, one of the key causes for the increase is that many C-sections performed are unnecessary.
A C-section is only necessary in cases where the mother’s medical history or pregnancy necessitates it, or an unexpected complication arises. Emergency situations that can require medical professionals to perform a C-section include:
- Brain, heart, or other maternal health issues
- Breech birth
- Fetal distress
- Multiple gestations
- Obstructions in the birth canal
- Placenta issues
- Prolapsed umbilical cord
- Slow progressing labor
You can pursue a C-section malpractice claim if you believe you were given a C-section unnecessarily and suffered injuries and/or damages. You may also have a claim if you did not give informed consent to the procedure.
Proving that a C-section was unnecessary will require the expert opinion of another medical professional. A healthcare expert can provide a critical review of your medical records, identify deviations from standard care practices, and help establish whether the C-section was indeed unnecessary.
Understanding Failure to Order a Timely C-section
As mentioned, there are some cases where a C-section is absolutely necessary. The decision to perform a C-section is often a critical one, as delaying the procedure can lead to serious consequences.
A delayed C-section can result in birth injuries, such as oxygen deprivation leading to cerebral palsy or other neurological disorders, physical trauma, and, in severe cases, stillbirth. For the mother, delays can increase the risk of infection, excessive bleeding, and other complications.
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider deviates from the standard of care, causing injury to a patient. In the context of C-sections, if a healthcare provider fails to order a timely procedure despite clear indications for it, it may constitute negligence.
Can You Sue for Infection After C-section?
Yes. As with other C-section malpractice cases, you can sue if you suffer an infection after a C-section if the infection was caused by the negligence of your medical team or the hospital.
Certain people are more at risk for obtaining an infection after a cesarean section (i.e. mothers over 30, those with a maternal BMI over 24, those who had a longer duration of C-section or heavy blood loss, or those with longer duration of urinary catheter use), which medical professionals should be aware of. If a mother is high risk, she should be watched by doctors and nurses for an infection. Failure to properly monitor a mother is not the only act of negligence that can occur.
Other negligence that can lead to infections includes:
- Improper care when inserting or removing a urinary catheter
- Failure to properly clean or sterilize surgical instruments
- Failure to follow hand washing and cleaning procedures
Experienced Medical Malpractice & Birth Injury Attorneys
When the very procedure meant to protect mother and child inflicts preventable harm due to negligence, it's more than just a medical error—it's a betrayal of trust. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries from such malpractice during a C-section, know that you have legal options. You may be entitled to compensation for your pain, suffering, and additional medical costs.
At The Dickinson Law Firm, our team is here and equipped to help you pursue compensation for your or your child’s injuries in a C-section malpractice case. Our firm handles birth injury malpractice cases, including C-section malpractice cases.
Call (770) 924-8155 to schedule an initial consultation today and discuss your legal needs with our team.