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Labor & Delivery Room Negligence

Much goes on in the labor and delivery room during the birthing process. Much of this activity centers around monitoring the wellbeing of mother and baby to ensure that events during birth do not result in permanent damage to either. Unfortunately, when an obstetrician, family care physician, nurse, midwife, or surgeon fails to take adequate measures to ensure the health and well-being of the mother or child, the care provider may be negligent in his or her duties.

Risks or complications not properly addressed during labor and delivery can lead to injury to or death of the baby and/or mother. For example, when placental abruption goes undetected and the blood flow to the baby is significantly reduced, this places mom at risk for hemorrhage and baby at risk for severe brain injury and death. When an injury or death is sustained during the birthing process, the question arises as to whether the attending medical professionals neglected to predict risk factors for complications or whether they kept close supervision in order to identify complications quickly enough. There can also be questions about whether or not the physicians or nurses exercised the appropriate care that would be reasonably required in such a situation.

Medical malpractice during labor and delivery may be at issue if an attending care provider did not:

  • conduct and monitor labor induction procedures correctly (ie: cervical ripening)
  • give correct dosages or types of medications (ie: Pitocin)
  • use correct procedures for shoulder dystocia
  • monitor and respond appropriately to fetal distress during labor (ie: late decelerations)
  • exercise correct usage of forceps or vacuum extractor, or other delivery tools
  • have the mother taken to surgery for an emergency cesarean section if necessary
  • timely diagnose Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) in the infant.

In today’s age it is not unusual for a woman to go into the hospital for induction of labor. Such induction is sometimes performed to better plan the delivery or for women who are overdue. In such cases, a cervical ripening agent (ie: Cervidil) is administered to soften and thin the cervix. Once the cervix is adequate for labor and delivery, the mother is administered a medication such as oxytocin or Pitocin to stimulate uterine contractions. The administration of such medications requires close monitoring of the frequency, duration and strength or each contraction. If too much medication is given, the woman can experience contractions that are too frequent. This can be referred to as a hyper stimulated uterus. If contractions are too strong (hyper tonus), the uterus may not return to a resting pressure and the fetal blood supply may be compromised. Either condition may cause a disruption of oxygen delivery to the baby and lead to brain injury.

If you believe you or your child were injured during labor and delivery, you should have both sets of medical records (yours and your child’s) reviewed by an Iowa medical malpractice attorney.