Maternal Death and Other Pregnancy Malpractice | Maryland Lawyers

Our firm handles medical malpractice birth injury cases in Maryland. But we also handle cases involving a much less discussed topic: medical negligence during pregnancy or childbirth that causes injury or death to the mom.

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Maternal Death

Between 700 to 900 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes every year in the United States.  An estimated 65,000 develop complications that put their lives at risk.  Childbearing is the sixth most common cause of death among women age 20 to 34 in the United States.  The risk is greatest among older mothers, women who live in rural areas, African-Americans, and low-income women.  Women with diabetes and preexisting cardiac conditions are also at increased risk. But material death and complication during childbirth often do not discriminate.  Every woman bearing a child faces danger.  

The $3 trillion on healthcare each year is allowing us to keep up with other developed nations when it comes to maternal mortality rate. Incredibly, the problem is getting worse.  

Indeed, many women die. There is not a malpractice case because there is nothing that could have been done.  But many maternal death cases result in wrongful death malpractice lawsuits because the death was avoidable.  

What Causes Maternal Mortality? 

What is happening during childbirth that causes maternal death? The leading causes of maternal mortality are heart disease, pulmonary embolism, sepsis, hemorrhage, pulmonary and pulmonary embolism. 

One severe hemorrhage that puts the mother's life at risk is caused by placenta accreta.  Placenta accreta increases the risk of an unmanageable obstetric hemorrhage. What happens is the invades and becomes inseparable from the uterine wall during pregnancy. Women with a history of prior C-section or placenta previa are thought to be at increased risk.  What is scary is that there are no readily apparent symptoms of placenta accreta. The way to uncover the problem is an ultrasound.  But this is not 100% accurate and sometimes doctors do not diagnose placenta accreta until delivery when the placenta does not detach as it usually would from the uterine wall after the infant is delivered. (Interestingly, it was Kim Kardashian who brought a lot of recent attention to placenta accreta.)

Harm to Mother Short of Death 

Missed diagnosis of medical conditions during pregnancy such as gestational diabetes, hypoglycemia, preeclampsia, anemia, and Rh-incompatibility, among others, have grave consequences for the mother and her unborn child.  Other outcomes leading to maternal death include stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, hydatidiform mole (a disease of the placenta), miscarriage, and induced abortion. Unfortunately, in most cases, symptoms are not characteristic of any one given condition which complicates diagnosis. 

Further complicating diagnosis, some diseases do not have specific biomarkers that can be measured or have numerous ones that are not necessarily indicated by standard tests due to availability or high costs associated with the tests.

Attorneys looking at these cases have a great deal to sort through to pin down the science and the medical experts as to what likely was the cause of any injury to the child or the mother. 

However, in spite of these limitations, the scientific community continues to research complications arising during pregnancy with an end goal of providing tools to aid in the health of the mother and unborn child and further enhance prenatal care.

Most Common Malpractice Cases

There are five primary reoccurring problems/issues that may arise during a woman's pregnancy that doctors miss, or fail to deal appropriately with, that frequently lead to medical malpractice cases:

Untreated preeclampsia is a major cause of poor maternal outcomes during pregnancy that can cause material death or injury.  Hypertensive diseases of pregnancy” remains a leading cause of direct maternal injury and deaths. Preeclamptic conditions represent one in three cases of severe obstetric morbidity. 

Is malpractice a problem?  One study is telling.  In 46% of maternal deaths due to pre-eclampsia reported, different management would reasonably have expected to alter the outcome. 

What Damages May I Recover For My Injuries?

To recover damages in a pregnancy mismanagement/misdiagnosis case in Maryland, a woman must establish that (1) the healthcare provider was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury; (2) the health care provider breached that duty; (3) the plaintiff suffered actual injury or loss; and (4) the loss or injury proximately resulted from the breach of duty. 

The medical error need not be the only cause of the harm that was done to you. Negligence will be deemed a "cause in fact" of injury when it was at least a "substantial factor" in bringing about the harm.

Free Malpractice Claim Consultation

If you live in the Baltimore-Washington area and believe your pregnancy was negligently managed by your doctor causing serious injury to you or your child, call us today at 800-553-8082. Alternatively, get a free online medical malpractice consultation. We will tell you whether we think you have a case for which you could receive compensation.

More Malpractice Links

  • Malpractice lawsuit against Johns Hopkins in 2017 for injury to the mother during a c-section
  • Looking for co-counsel for your malpractice claim? Learn about what Miller & Zois can deliver to you and your client.
  • What is the value of medical negligence claims in Maryland?
  • Abortion malpractice lawsuit in Rockville, Maryland
  • This is an infant wrongful death case stemming from errors before delivery

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