A cesarean delivery, also known as a C-section, is the delivery of a baby through surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. A C-section is usually performed when a traditional delivery would be too difficult or dangerous for the mother or the baby.
A cesarean delivery is typically scheduled before labor begins (elective cesarean), but it may be done during labor if there are problems with the baby or the mother’s health. In some cases, emergency cesareans are done because the baby is in danger.
When Should a Cesarean be Performed?
When deciding whether elective cesarean section is better for a mother and her baby, information about the medical condition of the mother and the baby should be discussed between patient and healthcare provider.
Some common medical conditions that may warrant cesarean section include:
- Placenta previa – when the placenta grows in front of or over the opening of the cervix, blocking access by the baby through the vagina
- Breech delivery – when the baby is positioned with feet down towards the cervix instead of head down
- Fetal distress – lack of oxygen to baby, often due to the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck
- High risk pregnancy – electing to have a planned cesarean delivery because either the mother’s or the baby’s health is at risk
For example, if a condition that causes maternal bleeding during pregnancy has not resolved or has worsened at the end of the second trimester or beginning of third trimester, then cesarean delivery may be recommended to ensure safety for both mother and baby.
Liability for C-Section Negligence
During C-section deliveries, if something goes wrong and it results in injuries to either the mother or the child, then the medical team and hospital involved could be held liable for the harm caused by them.
Typically, injuries are caused by some form of negligence, whether it was by a doctor, or someone assisting in the delivery. Negligence occurs when a medical professional’s conduct falls below the standard established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm.
If a medical device malfunctioned and caused injury during birth, then there could be a cause of action under products liability, where the manufacturer could be held liable for the harm caused.
What If My Doctor Failed to Perform a C-Section?
A vaginal delivery can be dangerous for both the expectant mother and her baby under certain conditions such as:
- Carrying more than one baby at a time (i.e., twins, triplets).
- The uterus has been scarred or damaged in previous pregnancies or surgeries.
- There are abnormalities in the shape of the pelvic cavity that would make it difficult for a baby to squeeze through without difficulty
- The placenta is blocking the birth canal
- Incomplete dilation
Each of these situations will increase the risk of complications during labor and delivery. If preventative steps are not taken to ensure a safe vaginal delivery, you may have grounds for legal action against your doctor.
How Much Time Do I Have To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations varies between states, but generally you should file a medical malpractice lawsuit either within 1-3 years of the date of an injury or within one year of the date you discovered (or should have discovered) that the doctor’s actions led to an injury.
You might still be able to file a lawsuit if you are outside these time limits, but it will depend on the laws in your state and whether any exceptions apply to your situation.
Talk with an attorney about this timeframe as soon as possible so you understand how much time remains for filing a claim.
What If My C-Section Resulted in Injuries?
If you or your baby suffered as a result of a C-section procedure, then you may have a medical malpractice claim.
If you or your baby were harmed during a C-section delivery, then the hospital and staff can be held liable in a court of law. For instance, if there was a failure to provide reasonable medical care and an injury resulted in resulting in injury, then you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim.
Some examples of C-section injuries include:
- Internal bleeding due to improperly placed instruments
- Heavy blood loss causing shock and organ failure
- Sepsis due to unhygienic practices at the hospital
- Urine leak after the surgical incision that causes septic shock
- The baby suffered a brain injury from lack of oxygen supply
- Permanent injuries such as a disability, scarring, or disfigurement due to a C-section
- Intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress
What If My C-Section was Unnecessary and Resulted in Injuries?
C-sections are major operations that carry risks of injury and death for both mothers and children. Although they are performed frequently in the US, there is controversy over whether they are performed too often.
In any case, women should be fully informed before deciding or electing to have a C-section. At the time of delivery, a doctor may have reasonably believed that a C-section was necessary.
In order to prevail in a medical malpractice case against a doctor, you will most likely need to prove that the doctor deviated from standard practice and that the deviation resulted in injury.
C-sections are sometimes performed because it seems safer for the child or mother in light of certain complications. If you were told that you needed a C-section, but later realized that the surgery was not necessary, then this could be an indication of medical malpractice.
What are Some Examples of Unnecessary C-Sections?
Some examples of unnecessary C-Sections include:
- Performing a C-section because the woman had been on bedrest or otherwise had restricted activities and wasn’t able to labor normally
- Performing a C-section when labor could have been induced by other methods
- Performing a C-section surgery without any corresponding medical need or diagnosis
What Damages Are Available In A Medical Malpractice Claim?
Damages in C-section medical malpractice cases are meant to compensate people who have been injured by an OB, other medical staff, or the hospital. Some of the damages may include money for:
- Loss of income. This can include money lost from missing work as well as any future loss of earning capacity that resulted from a birth injury.
- Pain and suffering. This can be a very important part of a medical malpractice claim because it helps to compensate victims for the emotional damage they have been through due to their injury.
- Medical bills. If you or your child was injured during delivery, you might also be able to recover damages for their future care needs. You may also be eligible to receive compensation for other non-economic costs such as funeral expenses if your child died unexpectedly during labor or delivery.
Do I Need An Attorney For C-Section Malpractice?
There are a lot of complications that can arise from giving birth via C-section and unfortunately sometimes there are problems during and after the delivery. If a doctor or hospital makes a mistake, it can cause injury or even death to the baby.
A lawsuit for medical malpractice may be filed in these types of cases. Because this area of law is so complex, it’s important to have a personal injury attorney review your case. When searching for a lawyer, it’s a good idea to reach out and contact someone who has experience working with this specific area of law.