The months that lead up to having a baby are typically so full of excitement and planning that, in comparison, many people find themselves sorely unprepared for the challenges that come in the weeks after childbirth. Once the worries of pregnancy and the stresses of delivery are over, it’s time to settle in to the happiness of parenthood. However, the transition is not always that seamless, and the postpartum health of newborns and their mothers must continue to be a priority. When medical professionals fail to provide reasonable postpartum care, serious injuries can result.
The word “postpartum” has Latin roots and means “after childbirth.” The postpartum period begins immediately after delivery and is generally considered to last for six to eight weeks. Often the term is used in conjunction with depression, which is estimated to affect up to 20 percent of women who give birth. Some cases of postpartum depression develop from frustration over physical problems that stem from giving birth.
Postpartum conditions for mothers include:
- Infections – Failure to recognize or properly treat an infection can trigger major difficulties and even lead to death. Developing sepsis or endomyometritis are particular concerns.
- Uterine rupture – A life-threatening excessive loss of blood can be caused by a doctor who improperly applies pressure to the mother’s abdomen or improperly uses labor-inducing drugs such as Pitocin.
- Eclampsia – Life-threatening seizures develop in women with severe preeclampsia (formerly known as toxemia). Although there is no way known to prevent preeclampsia or eclampsia, the outcome can be improved with prompt recognition and management.
- Reactions to anesthesia.
- Being administered the wrong medicine or the wrong dose.
- Developing blood clots or bowel obstructions.
Excessive bleeding after childbirth is another common problem that can have roots in medical malpractice. Known as a postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), it is clinically defined as blood loss of more than 500 cc after a vaginal delivery or 1000 cc following a Caesarean section. Risk factors include use of forceps, vacuum extraction, large size of the baby, retained placenta, and the use of Pitocin. Even if a doctor was not negligent in causing PPH, he or she has a duty to promptly identify and treat the source of the bleeding. A delay in diagnosis or treatment can have serious consequences, such as brain damage, hypoxia (deficiency of oxygen at the tissue level), organ failure, or shock. It can even be fatal.
Newborns can also be victims of negligent postpartum care when medical professionals fail to:
- Identify and treat respiratory stress
- Identify and treat jaundice
- Test for nerve damage
- Assess that heart rate is neither accelerated nor excessively low
- Make certain the baby had no adverse reactions to any drugs administrated during pregnancy or delivery
- Test for low Apgar scores
- Recognize when a baby needs intensive care
- Consult specialists when necessary.
Both mother and child must be monitored for signs of postpartum complications. Healthcare professionals who breach their duty to provide proper postpartum care may be negligent. If they acted inappropriately or contrary to the established standard, they may be liable for any resulting harm.
The Philadelphia postpartum negligence attorneys at Wapner Newman understand how difficult it can be to have to deal with an injury at a time when you should be enjoying life. Working with a skilled team of legal and medical professionals, we will seek to determine if medical negligence was responsible, and we will fight to ensure you receive the maximum possible amount of compensation. For almost 40 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to call us today at 1-800-LAW-6600 or fill out this free case evaluation form.