C-Section Birth Injury Lawsuits

A Cesarean section, commonly called a “C-section”, is often performed when the baby or the mother is in distress. A C-section enables a doctor to remove the infant immediately in order to prevent an injury and then allows the doctor to provide treatment as soon as possible. Sometimes, however, there may be a delay in performing a needed c-section.

The standard of care when delivering a baby requires the obstetrician or midwife to correctly assess the fetal monitor tracings and to recognize any non-reassuring patterns. If the baby is in trouble, doctors need to take action quickly. A timely performed C-section is often the best path to protecting the child from a loss of oxygen that can lead to a brain injury or death.

There is some debate among obstetricians as to when a C-section is appropriate.  There is no dispute that the standard of care calls for cesarean sections in many cases, including, repeat C-sections,  multiple births, a labor and delivery which is expected to be challenging, when the child’s expected size is disproportionate to the mother’s pelvis, uterine tumor obstructions, or breech or transverse presentation of the neonate. Obstetricians also agree that there are cases of fetal distress or maternal disorders that mandate a C-section.

The battle is over when the standard of care necessitates a C-section.  OBs who are more reluctant to order a C-section point out that a cesarean section is a major surgery which comes with risks and complications.  There are, of course, other ways to expedite delivery such as forceps and vacuum extraction, which do not come with some of the risks associated with a C-section.  There is no question that the OB must balance a multitude of factors to determine whether a cesarean section should be performed. But, ultimately, when there is one surefire way to get the baby out and safe, I struggle to understand the wisdom of not choosing this most obvious path.  As a result of handling birth injury cases and reading about them, doctors are just too cavalier as to when a C-section is needed.   Everything should go out the window when a baby is not getting the oxygen she needs.

Why is a C-Section Sometimes Best for Mother and Child?

birthinjury-200x300You could write a journal article why a Cesarean section might be necessary. Usually, a C-section boils down to one word: oxygen. Neonates need oxygen during the birth process. Low oxygen levels and poor vascular delivery of oxygen to human tissues can be catastrophic. The damage to the brain after 10 minutes of oxygen deprivation may be irreversible. It has also been established that cerebral palsy and encephalopathy are foreseeable consequences of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic injury and asphyxia.  This harm can often be prevented by taking emergency action.  There are also medical malpractice cases which involve shoulder dystocia as a result of failure to perform a C-section.  Shoulder dystocia comes not from a lack of oxygen, but from forcing the baby out of the womb.

Again, I realize that a C-section is not the only weapon in as obstetrician’s arsenal to rescue the child from oxygen deprivation.  But, it is often the easiest and best path to save the child.  A common basis for medical malpractice actions is failing to give a C-section.

A Negligent Obstetrician Battles on with Proximate Cause

In many of these birth injury malpractice cases, it can be readily established that a C-section could have been performed.  There is almost always a proximate cause defense.  This defense argues that even if there was a breach of the standard of care by the failure to perform a Cesarean section, the negligence was not the cause of the child’s injuries.   For example, the defendant often argues that the child was injured long before the birthing process began.  They may also claims that the injuries are genetic birth defects as opposed to an injury from the delayed, or lack thereof, of a C-section.  Another typical defense is that once the standard of care required the doctor to act, the child was already injured, so the delay caused no additional harm.

Getting a Birth Injury Lawyer to Fight for Your Family

If you believe that your child suffered a birth injury and you believe a failure to give an immediate C-section was the cause, give us a call at 800-553-8082. You can also get a FREE online case evaluation.  If your child has suffered a terrible birth injury, money will not solve all of your problems.  But, there is no doubt that money helps you navigate the costly road ahead and will help put your child in the best situation possible.