To prepare for childbirth, an expectant mother should frequently communicate with her healthcare provider. Determining whether a mother can safely have a vaginal delivery or should consider other options is an important choice to make. Doctors and healthcare providers should always be ready to act if a delivery does not go as planned. If you or your child were injured during prolonged labor, you should consult with an experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer. The legal team at Bennett & Heyman, P.A. are here to stand with you against medical practitioners and hospitals who act negligently. Bennett & Heyman, P.A. is here to explain when doctors and hospitals are liable for prolonged labor in Maryland.
What is Prolonged Labor?
A prolonged labor, also referred to as a “failure to progress,” is a child delivery that has lasted 20 hours or longer for a first-time mother. If an expectant mother has previously given birth, then labor that lasts approximately 14 hours will be considered prolonged. While there are competing definitions of what prolonged labor is, generally, it is when the child stops moving through the birth canal for a substantial amount of time.
There are a variety of factors that could cause a prolonged labor, including cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) and uterine contraction issues.
Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD)
Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD) is a condition where the baby’s head is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis. CPD can occur for several reasons. One reason is that the baby is larger than the average weight for newborns, whether because of genetics or conditions like gestational diabetes that may develop during pregnancy. A small pelvis can also be the reason that a child cannot fit through the birth canal. Additionally, if the baby is not in a normal position (called “fetal malpresentation”), this can also result in a diagnosis of cephalopelvic disproportion.
Uterine Contraction Issues
Uterine contraction issues are one of the most common causes of prolonged labors. This condition could mean that a mother’s contractions are not strong enough to push the baby out, or they are not properly managed by physicians to deliver the baby.
Contraction problems may occur if a mother’s uterine muscles have been excessively stretched. For example, a mother who is in labor with twins may have uterine contraction issues. Anesthesia and painkillers can also cause a mother to suffer from inadequate contractions.
If you wish to know more about prolonged labor and the responsibility of medical practitioners, you should speak with an experienced birth injury lawyer in Baltimore.
Can You Sue for Injuries Received During a Prolonged Labor?
A prolonged labor can have various risks for a baby and their mother. Failure to diagnose a prolonged labor and act appropriately may open a physician or hospital in Maryland to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
As mentioned above, a prolonged labor can be dangerous for the baby and the mother for several reasons:
- The child may suffer from oxygen deprivation if they are stuck in the birth canal.
- Prolonged pressure applied to the baby in the birth canal can cause serious or permanent injuries, like fractures or cerebral palsy.
- The mother could suffer from cervical or vaginal wall tears.
- The mother could contract uterine infections.
The medical team responsible for your pregnancy should be able to identify when your baby is in distress and should act quickly. An emergency cesarean section is one of the most common solutions to a prolonged labor. The delivering physician should be prepared to perform a C-section once a pregnancy becomes dangerous for the child or mother. In some cases, the delivering physician may determine that a C-section is not necessary and instead may use birth-assisting tools to aid with a prolonged labor. However, birth-assisting tools like vacuum suction and forceps can also injure a child if used incorrectly.
To determine whether a doctor or hospital can be sued for medical malpractice for mishandling your prolonged labor, you must look at four elements:
- Whether the doctor or healthcare provider owed the “plaintiff” (mother or child) a duty
- Whether the doctor or healthcare provider breached that duty
- Whether the breach of that duty caused the plaintiff harm
- Whether the harm caused can be reimbursed in some form
Baltimore Birth Injury Attorneys Can Fight for Your Child
If you or your child was the victim of medical malpractice, you should contact an experienced Baltimore personal injury attorney today. At Bennett & Heyman, P.A. we understand that childbirth should be a joyous occasion and an injury to you or your child can cause your family considerable stress. Our dedicated attorneys will work with you to fight negligent medical practitioners and pursue the legal compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (410) 845-2385 or reach us online.