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Placenta Previa Birth Injury Lawsuits

Placenta Previa Malpractice and Birth Injuries

Child During Delivery

Placenta previa is the abnormal implantation of the placenta in the lower uterine segment. It occurs in .5% to 1% of pregnancies in the United States. So the placenta is wholly or partially covering the opening of the mother’s cervix where the uterus connects the vagina. What happens is as the cervix dilates, the underlying muscular tissue disappears. The result is that the attachment of the placenta to the wall of the uterus is lost. The placenta provides nutrition, oxygen and a waste disposal system the fetus needs.

Placenta previa is, like placental abruption, a hemorrhagic disorder. Approximately 25% of pregnancy-related deaths are the result of a hemorrhage. Preterm delivery can result from these conditions which can lead to oxygen deprivation birth injuries like hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or cerebral palsy.

So while placenta previa is often not an impediment to a healthy pregnancy, proper management of the condition is critical to a good outcome.

Types of Placenta Previa

There are three variations of placenta previa: complete, partial and marginal. With complete placenta previa, the lower intravaginal portion of the cervix (or cervical oz) is completely covered by the placenta. This is the most dangerous variation for both mother and child Marginal placenta previa is where the placenta is embedded very near to the cervical os. Partial placenta rests in the middle of those extremes.

Proper staging of this condition can be a challenge. The extent of the occlusion of the cervical oz may vary with the magnitude of the cervical dilation. So what may appear to be partial or marginal on an ultrasound before labor begins may be more serious than anticipated. Prudent doctors keep this in mind when making treatment decisions.

Signs, Symptoms and Risk Factors

The biggest sign of placenta previa is painless bleeding. Some women do, however, experience contractions or cramps that may seem associated with bleeding. This bleed can be at 15 weeks but most classically present in the latter part of the second trimester or the third trimester of pregnancy.

The biggest indication of placental abruption, another hemorrhagic disorder, is painful bleeding. The pain typically feels stronger than you would expect with contractions.

Other risk factors include a history of multiple pregnancies, prior history of placenta previa or a previous c-section, advanced maternal age, and cocaine or smoking.

Managing Placenta Previa

Cervix Pain

Ironically, the earlier the placenta previa is diagnosed, the less of a concern that may be. If a placenta previa is diagnosed at 15 weeks, more that 80 percent of the time the placenta will move out of the way or migrate by the third trimester. Conversely, if a placenta previa is diagnosed in the third trimester, it is probably there to stay.

Most placenta previas are managed by general OB/GYNs and not sent to maternal-fetal subspecialists. There is nothing wrong with this. But the obstetrician needs to know how to properly manage this condition.  Otherwise, the consequences can be disastrous.

Vaginal Birth Can Medical Malpractice

A vaginal birth in the face of placenta previa is generally understood to be a breach of the standard of care if the pregnancy has reached 37 weeks or more at the time of initial bleeding. If there is a complete placenta previa, that also necessitates a c-section.

Among other things, an attempted vaginal birth when a placenta previa is present can cause or exacerbate the separation which can lead to a stroke and other injuries. The correct medical path is delivery by c-section before term because the placenta may impede the baby coming through the birth canal, and also, with contractions, there will likely be significant bleeding as the placenta is separated from the lower uterine segment, which can be fatal or significantly injurious to mother and baby.

Placenta Previa Medical Malpractice and Birth Injury Claims

We see four types of placenta previa malpractice claims:

  • The failure to diagnose the condition. Normally, this is the mother going to her OB/GYN complaining of painless bleed, and the doctor does not follow up with the necessary follow-up testing, most notably an ultrasound, to better diagnose the condition.
  • The failure to properly treat the condition after diagnosis
  • Performing a digital exam of the patient which is contraindicated
  • Failure to perform a c-section

Settlement Value of Placenta Previa Malpractice Cases

If the mismanagement of placenta previa has led to a birth injury to your child, you are likely to be angry and confused. But there is one thing on which there is no confusion. You want to figure out what you need to do from here to give your child the best possible life. The reality is that involves millions of dollars for adequate care in far too many cases. So should you be trying to get find a path to getting those millions of dollars to get the best possible care for your child? Absolutely.

This leads to the question of what is the average settlement value of placenta previa birth injury cases in Maryland? Good question. But while you can average the placenta previa settlements and verdicts below and get a number, that is not a meaningful answer. You can drive a truck through the range of values in these cases because there is a great variance in the severity of the injuries.

The formula to calculate the maximum value of the damages in these cases is simple. The formula is all of the expected medical bills, future lost wages as an adult, and ongoing care costs over a lifetime plus the child’s noneconomic pain and suffering damages. Getting these numbers requires medical experts to offer their opinion on what expenses and needs your child will have. To make economic sense for these numbers, our malpractice lawyers engage life care planner and an economist who can calculate the costs of this care. In birth injury cases, the cost of medical treatment and additional care can sometimes approach or exceed $50 million.

Settlements and Verdicts in Placenta Previa Malpractice Cases

What is the settlement value of placenta previa birth injuries? The average settlement is in the millions. But the answer to this question depends on a lot of variables of differing weights. This means that looking at the summaries of verdict and settlements in placenta previa lawsuits cannot give you a precise answer to this question. No two cases, even seemingly similar, are the same. Still, these verdicts for children and their families should give you some idea of the range of verdict and settlement values in your case.


How is Placenta Previa Diagnosed?

Placenta previa is diagnosed based on ultrasound imaging showing abnormal positioning of the placenta. In some cases, the condition is diagnosed during routine prenatal exams, before any symptoms occur. In other cases, placenta previa is diagnosed after vaginal bleeding or other symptoms occur. The diagnosis is usually
made during the second trimester.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Placenta Previa?

The primary symptom associated with placenta previa is vaginal bleeding after the 20th week of pregnancy. 80% of women with placenta previa experience vaginal bleeding. Normally vaginal bleeding caused by placenta previa is painless.

How is Placenta Previa Treated or Managed?

The appropriate treatment and management place for placenta previa will depend on what type of placenta previa is involved and how severe the bleeding is. For complete and partial placenta previa a C-section will be required and should be scheduled as soon as it is safe. If placenta previa causes continued bleeding that cannot be controlled the mother may need to be hospitalized.

What are Complications of Placenta Previa?

Placenta previa is known to be associated with an increased risk of other complications involving the placenta and umbilical cord. Other risks associated with this condition include premature rupture of the membranes and breech or abnormal positioning of the baby.

Getting an Experienced Malpractice Lawyer on Your Team

If you have been harmed or your child has suffered a birth injury because a doctor improperly managed placenta previa, the Law Firm of Miller & Zois has the experience and resources to help you both get the cash compensation you deserve for the harm you both have endured. We are based in Maryland but handle birth injury cases throughout the country. Call Miller & Zois today and speak to a newborn injury medical malpractice attorney at 800-553-8082 or get an online case evaluation.

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