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Uterine Rupture and Birth Injuries

One of the most serious complications that can arise during childbirth is a uterine rupture. Medscape notes that it is a “catastrophic complication with a high incidence of fetal and maternal morbidity.” Each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firm knows that one of these ruptures often results in severe birth injury (or even death) for the child and/or mother. Medical caregivers must act reasonably at all times to prevent these accidents and minimize the possible damage following a uterine rupture.

In general, a uterus rupture refers to a tear in the wall of the uterus. It is far more common in women who have had a previous C-section–a rupture in first-time mothers is quite rare. This is the case because a Cesarean section requires the cutting through of the uterus. This initial surgical cut compromises the integrity of the wall. It is eventually fixed with scarring. However, the stress and pressure in a subsequent pregnancy can cause that scarring to tear (rupture). In addition, it most often arises in early labor, but in some circumstances it has been known to arise in late pregnancy.

Considering the severity of the consequences, it is vital that caregivers notice signs of imminent rupture. Some of those signs include rising maternal pulse rate, abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, and slowed contractions. Our Illinois birth injury attorneys know that medical professionals must be on the lookout for these signs, particularly if they are combined with other risks, like Vaginal Birth after Cesarean section (VBACs), multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.), and particularly forceful contractions.

It is often impossible for families to know on their own if proper protocols were followed before and after a uterine rupture. Not all harm caused by these accidents are attributable to medical malpractice. Yet, far more than acceptable, some sort of inadequate care is at the root of the problem. It is absolutely critical that a uterine rupture be responded to efficiently to prevent incredibly damaging harm.

Maternal harm following a uterine rupture stems from internal injuries and bleeding. Childbirth is a traumatic process even without significant complications. However, when the uterine wall is ruptured, blood loss is high and it is often difficult to stop the damaging complications. For the child, the problem often results in oxygen deprivation to the brain. This can had a wide range of problems, including the development of cerebral palsy. Other neurological birth injuries are often not uncommon.

All of these potential problems are made much more likely if medical caregivers do not respond promptly following a complications. Obviously things like internal bleeding and oxygen deprivation involve very small time consequences. Even a few minutes delay can be a matter of life and death or perfect health and life-long injury.

There is sometimes a misunderstanding about the civil law in these medical matters. Families are often under the impression that a lawsuit or legal liability only exists when the medical professionals contributed to the underlying condition (i.e. caused the uterine rupture). This is not true. Hospitals and medical caregivers are also accountable when their response to that medical event is unreasonable. The unreasonable or ill-timed response can ultimately prove just as damaging as causing the event itself.

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