Seattle C-Section Injury Attorneys
C-Section Mistakes Can Cause Severe Injuries
A Caesarean section, more commonly referred to as a C-section, is a major surgery that delivers an infant through a surgical incision made in the mother’s abdomen. In the past, doctors tried to avoid ordering C-sections, but today they’ve become very popular. In fact, about 33% of all babies born across the country are now delivered by C-section. But just because they’re common doesn’t mean there aren’t risks associated with them.
C-sections are major surgeries and as such, they can pose a great risk to the health of the mother and the baby. Doctors have to think and act quickly, and always in the best interests of their patient. When they don’t, mistakes can happen and doctors or other healthcare professionals can be found negligent. When they are, they may be liable for paying compensation for any injuries resulting from those mistakes.
When mistakes relating to a C-section occur, they typically fall into one of two categories: the doctor or healthcare professional fails to perform a C-section in a timely manner; or they perform a C-section improperly.
There are many factors that tell a reasonable doctor when a C-section is required, and allow them to order and/or perform one in a timely manner. Being able to recognize when a C-section is necessary is part of the standard of care doctors and other healthcare professionals must provide their patients. When they fail to do so, injuries can result, and often those injuries can last a lifetime.
Instances in which a C-section should be ordered are:
- Signs of fetal distress such as irregular heartbeat or fluctuating blood pressure
- Placenta previa and placenta abruptio
- Twins or multiples
- Baby in breech position or other abnormal position
- Mother has severe health concern, such as a heart or brain condition
- Labor is prolonged
- Active herpes and other STDs
When a C-section is not performed, even when one or more of these factors are present, injuries can result.
Sometimes, even when a doctor or other healthcare professional has recognized that a C-section needs to be performed and does so in a timely manner, mistakes still happen. Doctors can make the incision in the wrong location, the equipment could have been improperly cleaned, and anesthetic mistakes can occur. Unfortunately, many injuries can result from these mistakes.
Emergency C-Section Protocol
In many cases, the decision to deliver via C-section is made quickly as a result of either fetal distress or the mother’s distress. The medical standard, in this case, is called the Emergency C-Section Protocol and takes about 30 minutes from decision to incision. This is an acceptable time frame as determined by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This protocol also recognizes that certain complications such as cord prolapse, uterine rupture, and bradycardia require the C-section to be performed more rapidly in an effort to save the lives of both the mother and the infant. If medical professionals fail to identify conditions that require this emergency protocol, serious and permanent injuries could occur. Lack of oxygen to the fetus can result in brain injuries such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy. The mother’s life can also be at risk in the event of hemorrhaging due to a ruptured uterus.
C-Section Injuries to the Mother
The mother is at risk for a number of injuries when a C-section is not performed in time, or when the operation is performed incorrectly. These are:
- Endometritis - an infection and inflammation in the uterine membrane lining
- Postpartum hemorrhaging
- Reaction to the anesthesia
- Blood clots including deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
- Infection of the wound
- Injuries to nearby organs
- Rupture of the uterus
C-Section Injuries to the Baby
Of course, when mistakes are made during C-sections, the infant being delivered is also highly at risk. The main injuries or risks to the baby when C-section mistakes are made include:
- Breathing problems. When infants are delivered by C-section before 39 weeks (which is considered full-term) into the pregnancy, they are at increased risk for having under-developed lungs for many years to come. Babies delivered by C-section may also suffer from respiratory distress syndrome, a condition that inhibits a baby’s breathing and is commonly seen when babies are delivered by C-section.
- Surgical injuries. During C-sections, there are many medical instruments being used, including razor-sharp scalpels to make the incision. Infants delivered by C-section are at risk for being cut with one of these tools.
- Brain damage. This is, unfortunately, the most common and most devastating birth injury caused by C-sections. When a birth - any birth - doesn’t go well, babies can remain in the birth canal for far too long, depriving them of oxygen. When that happens, brain damage can quickly ensue and become worse the longer the brain is not breathing.
C-sections may be becoming more common in Seattle and across the country, but that doesn’t mean they don’t come without their own risks. Starting a family or welcoming a new member into yours should be an exciting time. If you or a loved one has been impacted by mistakes made during a C-section, call the experienced Seattle personal injury lawyers at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. at (888) 228-3860. We’ll review your case and may help you get the compensation you deserve.
- C-Section Information - Mayo Clinic
- Fetal Injury Associated with Cesarean Delivery
- Cesarean Delivery - Merck Manual