Is Giving Birth Safe?By Ernest Hamilton, UniversityHerald Reporter
Over the past 100 years, advances in medicine and technology have increased the safety of childbirth. What was once a very risky experience has become almost mundane with millions of babies being born each year without incident. Still, the United States lags behind much of the developed world when it comes to maternal health.
Indeed, the statistics are alarming. Roughly 700 women die from childbirth complications, which works out to a rate of 14 deaths per 100,000 births. For comparison's sake, the United Kingdom sees only 9 deaths per 100,000 births-roughly half the rate. And these numbers do not include the tens of thousands of injuries to mothers and babies each year.
If you or your baby was harmed during labor and delivery, you might have a birth injury lawsuit. Below, we look at some of the complications which can injure both mother and child.
Internal Bleeding & High Blood Pressure
As USA Today found, these are two of the biggest risks to mothers who are giving birth. If left untreated, internal bleeding can result in crashing blood pressure and organs shutting down, ultimately resulting in death. Doctors often dismiss a patient's complaints about dizziness or light-headedness, and they do not even track the amount of blood a patient has lost following delivery. Unsurprisingly, some women end up literally bleeding to death before any medical professional takes their complaints seriously.
Another risk is high blood pressure, which can lead to stroke and death. As USA Today found, some hospitals only end up treating less than 15% of mothers who report symptoms of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is manageable, but only if doctors take complaints about headaches and other symptoms seriously.
Experts cited by USA Today believe that up to half of these deaths are preventable. But poor internal processes and communication, not to mention outright neglect, result in avoidable tragedies.
Other Risks to Mothers
Mothers suffer harm during labor and delivery in other ways, and can be sent home with the following injuries:
Vaginal distortion (such as tearing or scarring)
A new mother complaining of pain or depression should be taken seriously by her doctors and offered treatment. Instead, many doctors never follow up with the patient or minimize a mother's pain, leading to harm.
Injuries to Babies
Childbirth can be equally stressful for children. Babies are typically injured because a doctor was too aggressive during delivery or neglected a mother when her child is in distress. Some common injuries include:
Brachial plexus injury
Spinal cord injury
Oxygen deprivation (perinatal asphyxia)
The cause of these injuries is usually the same as when the mother is injured: a doctor who has not followed the correct standard of care.
Can You Sue for a Birth Injury?
New parents should consider meeting with an attorney if either the mother or child has suffered an injury. Doctors rarely will admit mistakes, and hospitals often resist turning over patient records for review. It is difficult to reconstruct what happened in the delivery room, but a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney could be a huge help.