Ob/Gyn Doctors Need to Respond to Labor and Delivery Dangers

Doctors are not always responsible when something goes wrong in childbirth. Because of childbirth's inherent risks, obstetricians and gynecologists cannot guarantee a perfect delivery.

There are times, however, when birth injuries can and should be avoided by prompt, effective medical action.

Shoulder Dystocia

Consider, for example, what happens when the baby is not positioned properly to go through the birth canal. Shoulder dystocia - where the baby's shoulders and the mother's pelvis come in contact - creates an emergency situation. In essence, the baby is stuck behind the mother's pelvic bone. If doctors don't act quickly and effectively, the baby can be harmed in several different ways.

When a baby's shoulder is stretched too much, it can damage a key network of nerves called the brachial plexus. This network is needed to transmit messages through the spine not only to the shoulder, but also the arm and hand. When the nerves are damaged, the result can be muscle paralysis. The most common type is Erb's palsy, which affects the upper arm.

There are other potential dangers during delivery as well. If blood flow to the baby's brain is blocked, it can cause severe brain damage. This condition is known as fetal asphyxia, and it occurred in a recent case involving Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Medical Malpractice Case

In the Johns Hopkins case, the family was planning on a home birth with a midwife in attendance. But the baby became stuck, and the mother was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

The mother's understanding was that an emergency C-section would be performed. This did finally happen, but doctors apparently waited two long hours before doing so.

When the baby was born, he had very serious developmental disorders. The family sued Johns Hopkins hospital, contending the doctors waited too long to perform the C-section. A jury agreed that the doctors waited too long and awarded the injured child and his family $55 million.

Determining when medical malpractice is an appropriate claim can be difficult. Every situation is unique, and it is wise to discuss your potential claim with an experienced birth injury lawyer.

After a Birth Injury

Doctors are not demigods and should not be expected to rescue every difficult delivery. But when they fail to take reasonable steps to prevent injury, they should be held accountable. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help you do that.