On our blog, we discuss many different cases involving birth injuries. While a number of these posts focus on preventable and tragic injuries suffered by newborns during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, it is important to remember that mothers also face substantial risks of suffering injuries during birth. That’s especially true when the doctors, nurses, and other health care providers tasked with caring for them fail to abide by critical safety practices that can prevent injuries and save lives.
In a recent investigative report from USA Today, researchers noted that mothers in the U.S. suffer thousands of life-altering injuries of deaths each year due to doctors and nurses who fail to abide by safety practices they know can prevent patient harm. Many of these safety practices are not rooted in new discoveries or advanced technology, but rather the basic and essential tasks experts have recommended for years.
Examples of common failures that can lead to preventable birth injuries to mothers may include:
- Failures to identify potential medical issues by weighing bloody pads and tracking blood loss
- Failures to monitor a mother’s blood pressure
- Failures to provide stroke-preventing medication to mothers with high blood pressure
- Failures to identify potential infections
As a result of these and other safety failures, many mothers suffer preventable injuries during labor, delivery, and shortly after birth. This can include excessive blood loss, organ failure, strokes, infections, paralysis, sterility, and even death. Among the roughly 50,000 severe injuries and 700 deaths suffered by American mothers during the birth process each year, experts state that at least half could have been prevented or reduced in severity with better care. That injury and death rate makes the U.S. one of the most dangerous countries in the developed world for mothers to give birth.
Understanding a Medical Professional’s Legal Duty
When it comes to cases involving birth injuries and medical malpractice, the key concept in lawsuits filed by victims is the failure of health care providers to meet their “duty of care.” This generally means that hospitals, doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals failed in some way – often as a result of negligence – to provide care in accordance to acceptable medical standards. If current medical standards would call for a reasonably skillful doctor to monitor a mother’s blood pressure so as to avoid a stroke during delivery, for example, a failure to do so could constitute a breach of this duty, and warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit.
While understanding a provider’s duty of care and how they failed to uphold that duty can form the basis of a malpractice case, it can be exceedingly difficult to identify every case where doctors or nurses failed to meet accepted medical standards when treating mothers. In its investigative report, USA Today attempted to gain some insight into the scope of the problem by conducting interviews with birthing hospitals and examining 150 cases involving mothers who suffered serious injuries or death to determine what went wrong. Here are a few of their findings:
- At dozens of hospitals examined, less than half of mothers were treated promptly for dangerous blood pressure that would put them at increased risks of stroke.
- Less than 15% of mothers with dangerous HBP at some hospitals received recommended treatments.
- Many hospitals, despite having policies in place to address potential dangers during birth, exemplified a lack of attention to safety recommendations and widespread failures when protecting the health and safety of mothers.
The alarming findings were noted in all types of hospitals, from big and small facilities to those serving rural and urban communities. What they show, in addition to a concerning track record and long list of victims, is that preventable injuries can happen to any mother when the medical professionals in charge of their deliveries provide substandard care.
Protecting the Rights of Birth Injury Victims
While the new findings are helping fuel efforts to better streamline standardized care practices to be used by health care providers who facilitate the birthing process, they can also help mothers and families better understand their rights after suffering preventable harm. At Freidin Brown, P.A., our Miami birth injury lawyers have earned national recognition for our work handling complex medical malpractice cases throughout Florida, including those involving birth injuries to both mothers and children. If you believe your injuries were caused by the negligence of a health care provider, or would like to discuss whether malpractice may have been involved in your case, our legal team is readily available to discuss your rights and options during a FREE consultation.
To speak with an award-winning lawyer from our firm, contact us today. Freidin Brown, P.A. is available 24/7 to help victims and families throughout Florida!