Over a third of babies born in the United States are delivered via cesarean section. Although the majority of these births happen without incident, complications that cause harm to the mother and/or her baby may be the basis of a medical malpractice claim.
Possible C-Section Complications for the Mother
C-sections are considered a form of major abdominal surgery. Even a C-section that goes smoothly requires the mother to spend three to four days in the hospital and four to six weeks recovering at home.
Some complications that can occur during a C-section include:
- Anesthesia errors. When too little anesthesia is administered, the mother can suffer extreme pain and emotional trauma. When too much anesthesia is administered, she can experience dangerously low blood pressure.
- Infections. Improperly sterilized tools, poor sanitation in the operating room, or objects left inside the patient can result in infections that require antibiotics and an extended hospital stay.
- Injury to other organs. A doctor who is rushing or inattentive could accidentally damage the bladder or other nearby organs when performing the procedure.
- Blood clots. The risk of blood clots is higher with a C-section than a vaginal delivery, especially if the doctor doesn't use blood thinning medication and get the mother up walking around as soon as possible.
- Blood loss. If the doctor cuts into the uterus accidentally, hemorrhaging can occur.
- Unplanned hysterectomy. If a doctor severs an artery, an unplanned hysterectomy may be done to save the mother's life. This can end her chance of having additional children.
- Wrongful death. If the mother isn't monitored and complications aren't addressed immediately, death can occur as a result of the surgery.
Possible C-Section Complications for the Baby
Mothers aren't the only ones who can be harmed by C-section complications. Issues that can affect the baby include:
- Lacerations, abrasions, and scarring. Lacerations or abrasions can occur if the doctor cuts too deeply. Scarring can result if the cuts require stitches.
- Developmental disabilities. If a C-section is delayed, the baby may be deprived of oxygen. Oxygen deprivation can cause cerebral palsy or other developmental disabilities. These conditions can result in the need for lifelong medical care.
- Premature birth complications. If the doctor is incorrect about the gestational age or the risks associated with allowing a pregnancy to continue, the baby can have undeveloped organs due to premature birth.
- Wrongful death. In rare cases, C-section complications can result in a stillborn baby or baby who dies shortly after birth.
Defining Medical Malpractice
Experiencing complications from a C-section doesn't necessarily mean that a doctor is guilty of malpractice. Complications can sometimes occur regardless of the doctor's skill. However, a doctor who deviates from the accepted standard of care for your condition can be found guilty of medical malpractice. Performing the surgery unnecessarily, cutting too deeply, improperly sterilizing tools, leaving surgical objects inside the body, or failing to monitor vital signs are just a few of the specific errors that could form the basis of your claim.
A malpractice claim for C-section complications can include the following types of compensation:
- Medical expenses related to treating complications for both mother and baby
- Anticipated future medical expenses, if the baby has been left permanently disabled or the mother will need additional surgeries to correct the doctor's error
- Lost wages if the mother was forced to miss additional work due to C-section complications
- Loss of future earning potential, if the baby has suffered a permanently disabling injury
- Pain and suffering, including both physical and emotional trauma
- Funeral and burial expenses, if the mother and/or baby died from the procedure
Seeking Legal Representation
An experienced malpractice attorney can advocate for both mother and baby in a C-section malpractice case. Your attorney can gather evidence, locate experts to testify on your behalf, and negotiate with the hospital's insurance company for the highest possible compensation.
Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's dedicated legal team.