For some expectant parents, hearing about a new pregnancy means everything is going according to plan. For others, it may come as a big surprise. And for still others, it may be the culmination of a long and difficult effort to conceive.
No matter how they arrived at this point, for the next months they will all be travelling down a road filled with doctor’s appointments, tests, and learning how to prepare for the big day. In all cases, an obstetrical care-provider will be joining them for the ride. That care-provider may be an obstetrician, a family doctor, or a mid-wife.
Obstetricians are highly skilled medical specialists who focus on matters relating to preconception and fertility, pregnancy, birth and early postpartum care. Although family physicians can provide obstetrical care, higher risk pregnancies are generally managed by obstetricians.
Unfortunately, errors do occur due to the medical care provider in pregnancy and during labour and delivery. Where a newborn is suffering from some birth related injury, parents may not be aware if that injury is due to substandard obstetrical care. We can help make that determination. Nurses are also extensively involved in providing obstetrical care, with some birth injury due to nursing negligence.
What do obstetricians do?
Obstetricians specialize in managing health conditions associated with pregnancy, particularly high- risk pregnancies. In addition to routine prenatal care, screenings and tests, during the course of a pregnancy obstetricians will monitor fetal growth, size and position in the uterus. The obstetrician will look for anomalies and determine if there may be complications that require treatment.
Obstetricians also manage labour and delivery and provide postpartum care for approximately one month after birth. While pregnancy care and delivery can be provided by midwives for normal, low-risk pregnancies, an obstetrician (working with or without a midwife) is strongly recommended if the pregnancy is high-risk.
Some examples of potential high-risk pregnancies include:
- maternal health conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure).
- young (teenage) or older (35+) maternal age.
- multiple gestations.
- Overweight or underweight pregnant women.
- Fetal growth restriction.
What are some common obstetrical errors?
Obstetricians are highly trained and many of these doctors are exceptionally good at what they do. Unfortunately, errors happen. If the obstetrician’s own negligence or the negligence of their supporting staff or institution causes harm, they may be legally accountable for damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Some types of obstetrical errors include:
- Failure to properly manage fetal-wellbeing during labour, leading to newborn neurological injury called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or HIE. Excessive use of oxytocin to promote uterine contractions, resulting in undue hypoxic stress on the fetus.
- Misuse of instruments, like forceps and vacuum, to achieve assisted deliveries.
- Failure to expedite delivery in cases of undue fetal stress, failure of labour to progress, and in cases of suspected infection. Failing to properly manage labour in view of known fetal or maternal complications, including prematurity, growth restricted fetuses, preeclampsia, and large for gestational age babies.
- Failure to properly manage emergent complications of labour, including uterine rupture, umbilical cord prolapse, and placental abruption. surgical errors - If surgery is required during the pregnancy or birth, an obstetrician must follow established protocols and procedures to ensure the safety of mother and baby.
- Lacerations, perforations, leaving foreign objects in the body, and improper remedial care can all have negative consequences for the health of the mother, her fetus or her child.
Commonly, these errors involve miscommunication amongst the obstetrical team, poor record keeping, improper assessment of fetal-well-being, a failure to respond to signs of undue fetal stress, the failure to address and resolve technical issues, and inadequate supervision.
Room for improvement.
A 2016 report entitled “Obstetrics Services in Canada: Advancing Quality and Strengthening Safety,” brought together four health safety organizations to survey the state of obstetrics in Canada and to determine which areas were working well and which areas had room for improvement.
The survey identified five areas most commonly encountered in medical-legal cases in the previous 10-year period. These included:
- fetal heart rate monitoring.
- induction and augmentation of labour.
- assisted vaginal delivery.
- timing of the decision to perform a caesarean section (C-section).
- managing shoulder dystocia.
Injuries caused by obstetrical errors.
An obstetrical error can cause or contribute to a variety of injuries sustained by a pregnant woman, her fetus or her child. By far, the most significant and devastating injuries seen in obstetrical malpractice cases is hypoxic-ischemic brain injury in the newborn. In many cases, the brain damage would have been prevented had the obstetrical care met applicable standards. Other serious injuries include brachial plexus injuries from shoulder dystocia and trauma to the newborn that might lead to skull fractures and brain hemorrhage.
Maternal injuries can also be significant, including: perineal injury (blood loss, skin, tissue and muscle damage, injury to the vaginal mucosa or anal sphincter), pelvic floor injury (muscle and nerve damage, prolapsed organs), postpartum infection, and spinal injuries from epidurals.
Help when you’re hurt.
An injury caused by an obstetrical error can result in pain, suffering, and disability. Obstetricians, nurses, and midwives will be legally accountable to you and your child for the failure to meet applicable standards of care that results in harm. The burden of caring for children affected by obstetrical malpractice is enormous, both emotionally and financially and appropriate compensation will be provided to you and your family where malpractice can be proven.
Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers has highly experience medical malpractice lawyers to help you with your claim arising out of obstetrical error. As one of Canada’s leading birth injury law firms, our lawyers have the knowledge, skill and experience to deal with even the most complex of these cases.
When you contact our office for a no cost, no obligation initial consultation, you can be assured you will be received with the compassion, empathy, and he attentive care you need and deserve. Once you explain what has happened and how it has affected you and your loved ones, we will carefully explain your various rights and options. If we believe we can help you launch a successful claim, we will gladly offer to be your legal representative and advocate.
A commitment to full-circle care.
There are other birth injury lawyers out there who may be able to take on your case. Beyond our sterling reputation among our peers, we believe our commitment to full-circle client care truly sets us apart. When we treat clients as we would treat our own family, it demonstrates that we care about you and your family beyond the life of a case. We care about you as a person and will do whatever we can to help you as you begin what should be a healing journey.
Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ renowned client liaisons will be an important point of contact for you as your case develops. They will not only answer your questions and provide updates, but also simply to check in to see how you’re doing. These client liaisons, some of whom have had their own personal injury cases, understand what kind of information, resources and support will be most helpful to you.
You may be worried about your ability to afford a lawyer. If you pursue a civil action with Gluckstein’s obstetrical error birth injury lawyers, we will only receive payment if we are successful in negotiating a settlement for you or obtaining a court award.
If you or a loved one has experienced the trauma of a serious obstetrical error, you should know that you are not alone. Trust the team at Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers to be your tireless advocate when you need it the most.
Tell us about your accident or injury. We can help.
At Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers, the initial meeting is free and without obligation on your part – and we never charge you legal fees until your claim is settled.