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3 labor and delivery mistakes that can lead to birth injuries

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Giving birth is one of the most dangerous human experiences. Even in a modern medical setting, women are at risk of severe injury or death during labor. Their unborn child could also be at risk in many cases.

Birth injuries can have a profound impact on a newborn and their parents. Factors outside of a mother’s control could lead to permanent injuries that affect a child’s development and prospects in life. Some birth injuries are unpredictable and unpreventable occurrences, but many birth injuries are the result of medical mistakes. The following are three of the most common errors in labor and delivery settings that can lead to preventable birth injuries.

Failing to monitor the fetus

An unborn child could be at risk of permanent brain injury within minutes of something going wrong during labor. It is therefore crucial for healthcare professionals to consistently monitor the status of both the mother and the unborn baby. Current best practices in obstetrics include consistent fetal monitoring after admission to the hospital during labor. Failure to use a fetal heart rate monitor, to check it regularly or to react to concerning heart rate changes in a timely manner could lead to preventable injuries to an unborn child.

Using inappropriate medical interventions

There are many ways for physicians to assist a complicated labor. Often, their main role is to monitor the mother and child and decide if surgical intervention is necessary for safety. However, there are other ways that physicians could help facilitate a safe birth. The use of those interventions is sometimes inappropriate. Forceps and vacuum extraction can do more harm than good when used unnecessarily or inappropriately. Medical professionals who intervene in the birth process when it is not necessary to do so may set the mother and child up for a cascade of interventions that could lead to a preventable birth injury, like Erb’s palsy.

Administering the wrong drugs

There are medications that are safe to use to treat pregnant women and those in labor. There are also many drugs with warning labels advising that they are not safe to use during pregnancy or labor. Some physicians use drugs that have not received appropriate testing and approval for administration during labor and pregnancy. Those drugs could then lead to significant harm to the mother and her unborn child. Mistakes when selecting and administering medication can lead to preventable birth injuries or tragic outcomes in some cases.

Those who can establish that a doctor did not follow best practices when overseeing labor and delivery may have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice claim against a physician or medical facility. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can potentially change hospital practices and reduce the financial impact a birth injury has on a family.