In certain circumstances doctors must perform cesarean (C-section) deliveries. A C-section is a delivery made through an incision in the abdominal and uterine walls. C-sections are considered a major surgical process and doctors and patients should give serious consideration to the justification for the procedure as well as any contraindications.
Generally, a C-section should be performed when further delay for a vaginal delivery would risk injury to the fetus or mother. Some of the general indicators to evaluate when considering a C-section are:
- Prior C-section
- Fetopelvic disproportion
- Maternal disorders
- Transverse lie
- Tumor obstruction in the pelvis
- Certain prior uterine or vaginal surgical procedures
- Documented fetal distress
A C-section should always be performed in an operating room with proper support available and all reasonable surgical precautions taken.
A doctor can be liable for medical malpractice in negligently performing a c-section or in reverse, for negligence in not performing a C-section.
If a patient presents any of the risk factors that would suggest a C-section is necessary and the doctor fails to perform a C-section, a resulting injury to the newborn or the mother can be grounds for medical malpractice. The courts have established that when a risk factor exists, a doctor is liable for unreasonably failing to discover it or for failing to perform a C-section upon its discovery. However, in cases where there is insufficient proof of the existence of the risk or sufficient evidence that continuing with a vaginal delivery was medically reasonable despite the risk, the courts have found no negligence.
If the mother or the newborn suffered injuries as a result of a C-section procedure, then the doctor may be held liable for medical malpractice negligence for injuries during birth.
In certain situations it can be difficult to determine absolutely that a C-section is necessary. The courts have generally held that there is no negligence if a doctor reasonably evaluates the risk factors and proceeds with a C-section. Even if later review suggests that the procedure may not have been necessary, the courts have not held doctors liable for making a fair determination under the immediate circumstances. Only when a doctor presents no basis for the procedure have the courts held doctors liable for unnecessary C-sections.
If you, or a loved one, have been injured by medical malpractice, you should speak to a personal injury attorney immediately to learn more about the value of your case and what types of recoveries are available to you.