The birth of a child is a momentous occasion in a family’s life. It should be filled with joy and anticipation. In modern obstetrics, cesarean sections, more generally known as C-sections, are an essential method of surgical delivery that is meant to be performed with the safety of mother and baby in mind. There are, however, some cases where the procedure is unnecessarily or negligently performed leading to serious personal injuries. In these instances, understanding the potential avenues for legal recourse is critical.
Does an unnecessary C-section qualify as medical malpractice?
At the Virginia personal injury law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, we understand the finer points of catastrophic injury, personal injury, birth injuries, and medical malpractice. If you or your child were harmed during labor and delivery, call our Virginia medical malpractice attorneys today and schedule your free case evaluation.
What is a C-Section?
A C-section is a surgical procedure that allows a newborn to be delivered via an incision in the mother’s uterus and abdomen. This procedure is performed only in cases where vaginal delivery would pose a considerable health risk to the baby or the mother, such as cases involving breech presentation, fetal distress, or other medical complications.
When is a C-Section Medically Necessary?
A C-section would be deemed medically necessary if one or more of the following conditions is present:
- Placenta Previa: If the placenta is fully or partly covering the cervix, a C-section could be the best method for delivering the baby due to the risk of excessive bleeding.
- Breech Presentation: Babies typically come out head first. So, when a baby’s feet or bottom are presented first for delivery, a C-section could be necessary to avoid the potential complications of a vaginal delivery.
- Fetal Distress: If an abnormal heart rate is detected through electronic fetal monitoring, it could be an early indication of fetal distress. If this is the case, an immediate C-section is needed to prevent possible injury to the newborn.
When is a C-Section Unnecessary?
Despite the many benefits that C-sections offer, performing one in the absence of a valid medical indication for the sole purpose of convenience could be considered unnecessary and bring about legal ramifications. A rash decision to perform a C-section prompted by inadequate monitoring of the mother and child, and without any medical provocation, could also invite serious legal consequences.
What Complications Commonly Arise From C-Sections?
While C-sections are widely considered safe, complications can and do sometimes arise. Some of the most common are:
- Bleeding: Failure to promptly address complications and improper surgical techniques can both result in uncontrolled bleeding.
- Blood Clots: If the mother is exposed to a prolonged period of immobility during her recovery, it could cause blood clots in her lungs and/or legs.
- Infection: After a C-section, serious infections can develop in the uterus or at the incision site.
What Risks Are Associated With Early C-Sections?
If a pregnancy has not yet reached full term, then performing a C-section could be extremely risky for the infant. Potential problems include developmental issues and respiratory distress syndrome. It is essential that the baby’s gestational age and the necessity of the procedure are evaluated by a qualified medical professional.
Contributing Factors and Legal Implications of C-Section Injuries
There are multiple factors that can contribute to C-section injuries and the ensuing medical malpractice claims, such as:
- Preoperative Assessment: Failing to review the mother’s medical history and gauge any and all possible risks before performing a C-section could result in serious complications and even wrongful death.
- Monitoring Neglect: Insufficient monitoring of the infant’s and mother’s conditions during labor could lead to a delayed C-section, which in turn could lead to avoidable catastrophic injuries.
- Surgical Errors: Any errors that occur during the procedure, such as organ damage or improper incisions, could cause severe injuries.
Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp
Cesarean sections are necessary medical procedures that, when performed with due care and for the right reasons, can save lives. Unfortunately, when a member of the medical staff is negligent, the exhilaration of childbirth can become a nightmare of complications and injuries.
Virginia personal injury law affords families affected by C-section injuries the option to pursue financial compensation. Talking with an experienced Virginia medical malpractice attorney who can help you understand the complicated landscape of medical malpractice claims will ensure that both mother and child receive the justice they deserve. Call the law firm of Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp at (833) 997-1774 and schedule your free consultation today.
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Rick Shapiro has practiced personal injury law for over 30 years in Virginia, North Carolina, and throughout the Southeastern United States. He is a Board Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (ABA Accredited) and has litigated injury cases throughout the eastern United States, including wrongful death, trucking, faulty products, railroad, and medical negligence claims. His success in and out of the courtroom is a big reason why he was named 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” in railroad law in U.S. News & World Report's Best Lawyers publication (Norfolk, VA area), and he has been named a “Best Lawyer” and “Super Lawyer” by those peer-reviewed organizations for many years. Rick was also named a “Leader in the Law, Class of 2022” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly (total of 33 statewide honorees consisting of lawyers and judges across Virginia). In September 2023, Rick was selected as a recipient of the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) 2023 President’s Award. Although many nominations were submitted from across the country, Rick was just one of eight attorneys chosen by the prestigious National Board which certifies civil trial attorneys across the U.S.