Can I Sue for Medical Malpractice for an Unnecessary C-Section?
In the U.S., an average of 10,000 babies are born each day, and nearly 33% are born by Caesarian sections. Many of these procedures are unnecessarily performed, and some C-sections are performed based on misdiagnoses or the providers’ failure to provide all relevant information to the parents in advance.
Unnecessarily performed C-sections and botched procedures can cause devastating injuries to infants and mothers. If you or your baby suffered serious injuries because of an unnecessary or botched C-section, you should speak to a birth trauma attorney at Raynes & Lawn.
When infants and mothers suffer certain types of complications during the labor and delivery process, a C-section can be lifesaving. Some of the situations in which a C-section might be necessary include fetal distress, abnormal infant positioning, placenta previa, cord prolapse, and overly prolonged labor. However, C-sections also carry risks that expectant parents should understand before consenting to this procedure. Some C-sections also are unnecessary and might form the basis for a viable medical malpractice claim.
C-Sections on the Rise
Many doctors recommend that their patients schedule elective C-sections instead of waiting for natural childbirth. This has led to a substantial increase in the number of C-sections that are performed in the U.S. The reasons for this increase are not entirely clear, but there are several factors that have likely contributed to it. Many hospitals and doctors are risk-averse and might recommend C-sections when someone’s labor is long even though the procedure is not necessary. There is also a financial incentive for doctors to perform C-sections since they generally cost more than vaginal deliveries. Some expectant mothers also opt to schedule C-sections to have more control over when their babies will be born.
Risks of C-Sections
C-sections carry several risks to both the expectant mothers and their infants. Women who deliver babies through C-sections have a greater risk of suffering injuries or death than women who deliver babies naturally. Women might suffer blood loss, surgical injuries to their bladder or intestines, blood clots, amniotic fluid embolisms, and others. They have increased risks of post-birth infections and postpartum depression. Giving birth by C-section also results in a substantially longer recovery period.
Infants also have greater risks when they are delivered by C-section than by natural childbirth. During a C-section, an infant could be nicked by the surgical instruments used during delivery. Infants might also be more susceptible to respiratory issues later on because of the presence of fluid in their lungs. Other differences children born by C-section show include a weakened immune response, a higher risk of allergies or asthma, differences in hormone levels, and a greater risk of problems regulating the body temperature.
When a C-Section Might Be Medical Malpractice
Not all C-sections will be considered to be malpractice. Instead, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or another health care provider provides a treatment that fails to meet the accepted standard of care either through action or inaction and causes injuries and harm. In the context of a C-section, medical malpractice might occur when a doctor performs a C-section negligently or incompetently. It can also amount to medical malpractice if the patient is not adequately informed about the risks associated with the procedure.
Doctors are still required to secure informed consent from mothers even when they want to schedule elective C-sections. This means that a doctor must explain all of the risks of the procedure, including complications. Doctors must also evaluate their patients’ health and advise them about whether they believe that an elective C-section is a safe choice. Finally, if your doctor recommends that you undergo a C-section, he or she must explain the reasons why the procedure is necessary and why it is a better choice than natural childbirth.
Proving a C-Section Medical Malpractice Claim
To prove a C-section medical malpractice claim, you will have to present evidence showing that the doctor violated the expected standard of care and that the violation of the standard of care caused your injuries. You will also have to prove that you suffered damages as a result of the doctor’s negligence.
If you cannot show damages, you will not have grounds to file a claim. Some examples of the types of damages that might be recoverable include the following:
- Additional medical expenses resulting from a botched procedure
- Rehabilitation expenses for the infant or mother
- Wage losses caused by complications or extended hospitalizations
- Costs for home caregivers for the child or parent
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress/mental trauma
- Funeral and burial costs
If you or your baby were injured during or after a C-section, and you believe that you were not properly informed about the risks, that the procedure was unnecessary, or the procedure was botched, you might have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim against the doctor, medical staff, and hospital where it was performed. However, you will need to get the opinion of a medical expert before you can file a claim. Pennsylvania requires plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to file certificates of merit stating that their claims have been reviewed by experts who can testify that the treatment provided fell below the standard of care. This certificate of merit must be filed at the time the civil complaint is filed or within 60 days of its filing date.
Talk to a Child Injury Lawyer
Proving medical malpractice following a C-section can be difficult. Working with an experienced attorney might help you determine whether you have a viable malpractice claim against the doctor and other health care professionals who were involved in your procedure. The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Raynes & Lawn work closely with medical experts for help with determining whether malpractice might have occurred and can help you determine the legal merits of your potential claim. Call us today for a free consultation at 1-800-535-1797.
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