Articles Posted in Death During Child Birth

When Mothers Are Mistreated Because of Race, Babies Are at Risk of Preterm Birth and Harmful Injuries

ethnic mothers struggle against hospital system
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 700 women die from pregnancy-related complications every year. Furthermore, the same research shows when a mother is at harm during the pre and post-natal stages, the fetus or newborn is as well. Just as troublesome, however, is that pregnancy and childbirth are much more dangerous for women and babies who are not white – and not always because of the mother’s socioeconomic status.

Researchers at the Blavatnik Family Women’s Health Research Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York have found that, “Data does not suggest that any differences in treatment patterns were reflected in worse outcomes for Medicaid-covered and commercially insured mothers within the same hospital. These results indicate that pathways other than insurance are responsible for the higher risks of severe maternal morbidity among black and Latina compared with white women that were observed in our study.”

Parents expect that their baby will be born happy and healthy, and without complications. Sometimes, however, complications do occur. While not frequent, complications during labor and delivery can cause mistakes to happen which could result in birth injuries. Premature babies may be at a higher risk for birth injuries because of their small size and other factors.

Premature Babies

The normal pregnancy should last approximately 40 weeks. An infant born at 37 weeks or less is considered premature. Giving birth to a premature infant can be a very scary experience. The parents are likely not prepared for the birth as it usually comes as a surprise. However, there are times when the doctor notes that there could be the possibility of a premature birth. For example, multiple births are often born earlier. Other conditions could also cause premature labor.
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Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time for couples as they begin to plan for their future families. For one couple, however, the pregnancy took a tragic turn when the doctor diagnosed an ectopic pregnancy and the pregnancy was ended. Later it was learned that the pregnancy was normal after all and the abortion was not necessary. The couple has filed a lawsuit in Cook County alleging negligence against MetroSouth Medical Center, Pronger Smith Medical Care, and the doctor. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Most pregnancies develop normally, inside the uterus. Unfortunately sometimes the woman experiences an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is one where the fetus attaches inside the fallopian tubes or somewhere else other than inside the uterus. The fetus cannot survive in this position and if left alone the mother can experience serious physical harm and possibly even death. Therefore, when a woman has an ectopic pregnancy it should be ended quickly before any damage occurs. This is typically done with a chemical injection or with a procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C).
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The birth of a child is usually one of the most joyful times in a parent’s life. Yet sometimes something goes wrong and the happiness turns to dismay and sorrow. A woman from Riverdale recently filed a lawsuit in Cook County for negligence in the severe injuries her child sustained during birth. The lawsuit alleges that the doctor and hospital were negligent and the child suffered distress and injury as a result. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $50,000.

Birth Injury Negligence

Birth injuries can happen from time to time because of the negligence of the doctor or other medical staff. Doctors are expected to provide a high standard of care because of their education, training, and experience. When this does not occur it may be due to a mistake. Mistake made by doctors are also considered cases of medical malpractice. Serious injuries that happen during labor or childbirth can cause serious permanent injuries including brain damage. In this case, the mother states that the doctor failed to perform a C-section in a timely manner and waited too long, allowing the baby to suffer distress.

Common Birth Injuries
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A Cook County mother has filed a lawsuit alleging that an Evanston hospital was negligent and caused the death of her baby. Most of us receive the prenatal care that is requested by our doctor and the process goes smoothly. In this case, however, the mother received the prenatal care she was supposed to, yet there was a very sad ending rather than a happy birth. The mother claims in the lawsuit that she was negligently prescribed medications to treat a bacterial infection during delivery. The complaint states that the baby should have been removed from the womb due to the infection, but was not. As a result, the baby died.

Complications During Pregnancy and Birth
The pregnancy and birth experience usually go well for women. Sometimes, however, there are complications that can cause concern. In this case, the woman experienced a severe infection while pregnant and the medications she was given may have caused the death of her baby. The lawsuit names Northshore University Healthsystem Evanston Hospital, Midwest Center for Women’s Healthcare, Ltd., and two healthcare workers alleging wrongful death. In this sad case, the woman was under the care of doctors, who should have known that the infection was dangerous to the unborn baby.

Negligence Causes Birth Injuries
Birth injuries are all too common and many of them could be prevented. With proper care and treatment, babies should not suffer severe birth injuries. Negligent care by a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional is not acceptable. These people are trained to provide us with proper care and we trust that they will do so. Unfortunately, when a doctor is negligent it often ends with injury or death to a patient. Serious birth injuries may improve over time or may continue for a lifetime, depending on the cause. Brain injuries are usually severe and may cause the infant to suffer permanent brain damage.
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Opinions about the safety of so-called ‘home births” range across a wide spectrum. Some are avid proponents of mothers giving birth at their own home, while others argue that births anywhere other than a hospital simply open up mother and child to more risks.

A recent post from Slate on the subject of birthing safety has struck a chord with some across the blogosphere.

The Slate story points to the startling medical advances related to childbirth, eventually vastly improving safety for procedures that have ended countless lives over the centuries. It is commonly understood that, historically, childbirth was the leading cause of death for all adult women. The same grim statistic persists in less developed areas of the world where pregnant women to not have access to modern medicine.

Live Science shared an interesting story this week that discusses how human evolution shapes many of the big (and small) medical issues that we all face. One of the details touched upon was childbirth. The story explains how the relative dangerousness of human childbirth and the subsequent injuries can in some ways be traced back to evolution and the manner in which the human body is designed for the process.

Evolution: Good, but not Perfect

Our species reigns supreme on the planet thanks to many of our most unique evolutionary adaptations. Most notable of those is our relatively large, complex brains which we can thank for our sophisticated analytical ability and perhaps our consciousness. Combined with bipedalism, our species has spread to virtually every corner of the globe and continues to thrive.

Most medical professionals provide top-notch service to their patients day in and day out. All of us rely on the skill and expertise of doctors, nurses, technicians, aides, and others to ensure we live our healthiest and fullest life. That care begins as soon as we enter the world, as medical professionals are responsible for ensuring childbirth goes as smooth as possible.

Yet, recognizing the value of these medical professionals does not mean that one must turn a blind eye to inadequate medical care. At the end of the day, not all medical teams provide the same quality of care. For a variety of reasons there are some professionals and institutions which time and again fail to meet the required standard of care, causing harm to patients. Demanding accountability and ensuring redress following those incidents is the purpose of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Handful of Birth Injury Cases

Most cases that our Illinois birth injury lawyers work on are cases involving injuries to children that lead to permanent problems for the infant. Illinois cerebral palsy cases, brachial plexus harms, and similar injuries are often caused by preventable medical malpractice. When that occurs the law demands that the negligent party be held accountable for their mistakes and provide redress to the injured family.

Yet it is important not to forget that it is not just the life of a child that is in danger in childbirth. Mothers can also face serious harm and even death when complications develop during the birthing process. Of course, historically maternal death during childbirth was a very potent risk for women. In the past birthing death rates were high for women. In fact the death rates remain high in certain parts of the world where individuals have less access to modern medical equipment and expert professionals.

Disturbingly, however, the maternal death rate in the United States is actually much higher than some might suspect. It is higher than virtually all other developed countries in the world. While deaths during childbirth are still somewhat rare, observers should not become complacent in assuming that mothers are never at risk in these situations. For example, earlier this year we reported on the heartbreaking case of a young woman who died after giving birth to twins. The family had spent years trying to conceive a child. They were overjoyed when the woman finally became pregnant-with twins no less. Yet the moment was short-lived as the mother eventually died after giving birth to the women because of extreme blood loss.

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys recently reard about a case in which a baby was still born and the mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital, alleging that the hospital staff’s negligence contributed to the baby’s death. According to Mercury News, an autopsy was done shortly after the baby passed away and the autopsy found that the baby died of an amniotic fluid infection, which alone does not automatically point to hospital staff negligence. However, shortly after the still birth the hospital fired multiple nurses and required several other nurses to undergo additional training suggesting that the hospital new that there had been at least some negligence on their part. Additionally, following the stillbirth the California Department of Health cited the hospital for failure to follow necessary procedures and stated in their report that the hospital staff’s actions did contribute to the baby dying.

Some of the findings of the Department of Health were that the only nurse present during the epidural was not trained to read the fetal heart monitor, that when the heart monitor was not detecting a heart rate the doctor was not notified immediately, and that no other measures were taken to detect a heart rate when the monitor was not finding one. This evidence suggests that had the hospital properly monitored the mother and baby that they would have seen that the baby was in distress because of the infection and hopefully been able to save the baby.

The hospital responded to these findings by the Department of Health by claiming that they would implement measures to make sure that this type of terrible incident does not happen again, but also blamed the nurses for failing to follow the rules the hospital already had in place. Many of the nurses involved in the firings claim that the hospital fired people that were not even involved in order to show the state that they were reacting to what had happened. While it is important that any hospital where something like this happens to make changes, it is crucial that the changes are ones that will actually make sure that this will never happen again and not just fire people to make it look like they are taking action.

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