Cesarean Section Delay Birth Injury
Were you or your unborn baby the victim of doctor negligence that led to a birth injury? Did the obstetrician make an error in your scheduled C-section or emergency C-section delivery? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers handle medical negligence cases and can serve as your legal advocates.
Call our birth injury attorneys today at (888) 424-5757, or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.
Injuries from a delayed c-section are one of the most avoidable birth injuries. All it would have taken is for the obstetrician to accurately and promptly realize any risks to the infant and perform the necessary surgery.
However, some doctors do not make the right decision for various reasons and push off the surgical procedure, failing to prevent any potential problem during delivery.
As a result, the infant suffers catastrophic birth injuries that may necessitate a lifetime of healthcare assistance. When this happens, you should retain a delayed cesarean section birth injury attorney to sue for the financial compensation that you deserve and need to care for your child.
Roughly one in every three births in the United States involves a c-section. Some of these procedures are planned. However, many women plan to deliver their babies naturally.
In some cases, as the pregnancy progresses, the doctor realizes that there are some dangers to the mother or baby's health and that natural childbirth would be a danger. In other cases, the doctor only realizes after labor has started that a cesarean section is necessary.
In any event, timing is of the essence, and doctors should ordinarily err on the side of caution in deciding on a c-section procedure when the risks to the baby are too significant to do anything else.
When There is a Delayed C-Section & Your Child is Injured, You Have a Birth Injury Case
We can state at the outset in unambiguous terms. When your doctor has failed to perform an immediate c-section surgery, and your baby suffers a birth injury, the doctor can be found to have committed medical negligence as they have not lived up to the standard of care.
You should hire a personal injury lawyer to file a medical malpractice case against the doctor who delayed the medical procedure and the hospital where the malpractice occurred. Since your infant has experienced severe injuries, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.
Emergency c-section deliveries are necessary for some labor and delivery scenarios. In most cases, labor progresses smoothly, resulting in a vaginal delivery. However, 8% of women end up in prolonged labor, resulting in delayed C-sections.
The longer that labor lasts, the more chance that the mother will need to have a c-section. At some point in labor, the membranes in the amniotic sac will rupture.
In 2019, 31.7% of births in the United States were through a cesarean section. Cesarean section deliveries can either be planned or emergency. Doctors will perform a c-section to preserve the mother's health or risk the child, and vaginal birth is impracticable or too dangerous.
There are some circumstances in which a doctor must decide quickly that a c-section is necessary.
Did your doctor wait too long for the surgery, hoping for a vaginal birth? Your baby could suffer severe and lifelong birth injuries, including permanent brain damage, that can keep the infant from living normally.
Birth Injury Lawsuits When Doctors Miss the Warning Signs
A cesarean section delivery is often necessary when time is of the essence. Doctors should not delay deciding to perform the surgery, nor should they take too much time to prepare the mother for the procedure.
Some reasons why a doctor would need to perform a c-section delivery could include:
- The baby is in the wrong position for delivery.
- The baby otherwise has trouble progressing through the birth canal, and vaginal delivery is too dangerous.
- The mother is not in the proper physical condition to deliver the baby.
- The baby's heart rate is dropping or unstable.
- The umbilical cord is prolapsed
- There is placental abruption or placenta previa
- Labor is not progressing as it should.
- The baby's head is too large to fit through the pelvis.
Many times, the doctor must make a judgment call whether a cesarean section delivery is necessary. Unfortunately, a doctor's mistake could have grave consequences for both the mother and child.
The doctor should be monitoring the condition of the child during labor. The heart monitor is often the first sign that something may be wrong with the baby.
However, the decision to perform a C-section to avoid birth complications might not be made until using vacuum extractors and forceps prove to be unhelpful for a vaginal delivery through the birth canal.
A permanent brain injury resulting in cerebral palsy or birth injury associated with a cesarean delivery could have been caused by:
- A breech presentation
- Abnormal position
- Birth asphyxia
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Lack of adequate oxygen
- Insufficient blood flow
- Cesarean section through the mother's abdomen or uterus previous incision
- Uterine rupture
- Cephalopelvic disproportion (COPD)
- Placental abruption (uterine wall detachment)
- Previous C-section
- Prolapsed umbilical cord
Reasons Why Physicians May Delay a C-Section Delivery Procedure
At the first sign of fetal distress, the doctor would need to make a quick decision to save the baby from harm. However, not every doctor makes the right decision in the necessary timeframe.
Here are some reasons why doctors might not perform a timely c-section delivery:
- The hospital might be overcrowded, limiting time for the doctor to take the time to care for the mother properly. Additionally, overcrowding could limit access to the delivery room. At the same time, the surgeon might have trouble timely assembling the surgical team.
- Obstetricians can misdiagnose the situation and exercise poor medical judgment when missing the warning signs.
- The physician may not realize the baby's dangers because they are not adequately monitoring the infant's condition.
- The hospital and the relevant medical professionals do not think that the health insurance will comprehensively cover the procedure
When oxygen deprivation is an issue, time is even more limited. Some studies have shown that doctors have even less time to deliver the baby when there are serious complications. The time frame for delivery can be as short as ten minutes to avoid a severe birth injury.
Birth Injuries From a C-Section Delay
The birth injuries that a baby may suffer from a delayed cesarean section can require intensive long-term health care assistance. In many cases, the child will never live normally after suffering severe physical and cognitive injuries.
These horrific cases usually involve babies injured from a lack of oxygen for a prolonged period. The medical term for it is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. In this case, the baby may even need 24-hour health care assistance for their entire life as they cannot provide for themselves.
A pregnancy involving placental abruption, when the placenta detaches from the uterus, could lead to catastrophic injuries to the mother and baby. Typically, the doctor must perform an emergency C-section to save the baby's life and avoid devastating birth injuries.
Some possible birth injuries that a baby can suffer due to a delayed cesarean delivery involving a high-risk pregnancy could include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb's Palsy
- Brain damage or another brain injury
- Brachial plexus
- Other physical injuries, such as shoulder dystocia
- Developmental delays
Many of these result when the baby is deprived of oxygen for an extended period during vaginal births and c-section deliveries. Moreover, the infant may have suffered physical injuries from the prolonged labor that affected the baby's heart rate that could have been avoided had the doctor made a prompt decision for a c-section delivery.
Damages in a Birth Injury Case
When your baby has been seriously injured, the number of damages in your case can be high. Even normal labor and vaginal delivery can carry risks of medical errors leading to cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and brain damage from a lack of oxygen.
Other contributing risk factors that could lead to severe complications include a prior C-section, nuchal cord (severe umbilical cord problems), or when the physicians fail to follow established procedures.
Damages you can recover in a delayed c-section civil action might include:
- Pain and suffering for both the mother and the infant child (this includes lifelong pain and suffering when the infant suffered permanent injuries that will affect them for a lifetime)
- Emotional distress
- The cost of lifelong medical healthcare that the child will require because of severe injuries
- Earnings that the parent will lose since they will need to miss work often over the years to care for their child and take them to medical appointments
- Punitive damages against the doctor and the hospital if the mistake was egregious.
Sample Settlements and Jury Verdicts in C-Section Delay Cases
Settlement for $1.95 Million
A newborn child suffered microcephaly and spastic quadriplegia as a result of a childbirth injury. The plaintiff claimed that the physician's failure to perform a c-section delivery was the cause of the birth injury.
The lawsuit alleged that the hospital and the doctor were negligent and that the hospital failed to provide proper training to the physician to diagnose the signs of fetal distress, which caused the injuries. The settlement went into a fund to benefit the minor child, who suffered severe lifelong injuries.
Settlement for $1.1 Million in Michigan
The child suffered birth asphyxia, cerebral palsy, and many other neurological and cognitive defects due to oxygen deprivation. In addition, the birth injury lawsuit alleged that prenatal scans showed many possible complications that could arise during delivery, including a shortened cervix that would complicate a vaginal birth.
However, the plaintiff alleged that the physician waited until the mother was at 41 weeks of pregnancy to induce labor and did not perform a timely cesarean section surgery that could have prevented these birth injuries, including brain damage. The settlement proceeds were to pay for the baby's healthcare needs and purchase an annuity for the child.
Jury Verdict for $6.734 Million in New Jersey
The baby suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which resulted in permanent brain damage and the inability to swallow, walk, talk, or perform normal bodily functions. The lawsuit grounds involved how the physician induced labor and delivery.
Even though the physician decided to perform an emergency C-section surgical procedure, the lawsuit claims that the doctor failed to recognize the signs of fetal distress and induce labor in time to prevent birth injuries.
The plaintiffs alleged that the doctor lacked the necessary skill and knowledge to perform the delivery successfully. Most of the jury verdict awarded the plaintiffs for the pain and suffering that the infant experienced and will suffer in the future.
Settlement for $4.5 Million in New York
The infant suffered severe mental deficiency, total blindness, total hearing loss, spastic quadriparesis, cerebral palsy, and the inability to speak when doctors failed to deliver the newborn timely. The mother had gone to the hospital in the 30th week of her pregnancy with prematurely ruptured membranes.
Doctors performed a c-section at that time, but the lawsuit contended that the c-section was delayed because doctors should have treated her, diagnosed her condition, and performed the surgery earlier.
Plaintiff Verdict for $21,573,993.10 in Pennsylvania
A mother pregnant with twins had an ultrasound that showed that one of the babies was in a breech position. Even though the mother had arrived at the hospital with dizziness and high blood pressure, the obstetrician waited twelve days to induce labor.
Even still, the doctor attempted a natural delivery. After the first child was born, the obstetrician tried for twenty minutes to get the second baby's head positioned downward. When that failed, the doctor performed emergency cesarean section delivery. By that time, the child had suffered severe injuries, including a severe anoxic brain injury from a lack of oxygen.
The lawsuit contended that the doctor should have recognized fetal distress and performed a c-section promptly. If so, the child would not have been injured. The case proved that most babies under similar circumstances would not have an increased risk had the doctor provided the established standard of care.
Jury Verdict for $11.1 Million in Pennsylvania
The plaintiff reported a sharp change in pain during her contractions and informed the physician. When she felt the tearing inside her, she specifically requested a c-section surgery, but the obstetrician refused.
After several hours of continuous contractions monitored by placing electrodes on the mother's stomach, the fetal heart rate began to drop, and the surgeon then performed a cesarean section.
By that time, the baby had suffered oxygen deprivation which resulted in significant brain damage. The mother's medical records show that the tearing she felt was a torn uterus.
Physicians had also failed to test the woman for gestational diabetes, which resulted in an abnormally large baby. The doctor's medical care should have resulted in prenatal testing and a c-section when the patient requested it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Delayed C-Section Lawsuits
Our birth injury attorneys understand that many families have unanswered questions on dealing directly with insurance companies when filing a birth injury claim. A personal injury lawyer has answered some of those questions below.
Contact our birth injury lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form on this website for additional information, immediate legal advice, or schedule a free consultation.
Can You Sue for a Delayed C-Section Leading to Fetal Distress?
The short answer is yes. You can file civil lawsuits for medical malpractice cases involving C-section deliveries.
Doctors must provide their patients with reasonable care. If they fail to make the best medically-based decisions that a reasonable obstetrician would, they may have committed negligence.
If that is the case, you and your minor child may be entitled to financial compensation to pay for both injuries to the mother and the child.
How Quickly Can an Emergency C-Section Be Performed?
Part of why obstetricians must make prompt decisions to perform emergency C-sections is that it takes longer to prepare the woman for surgery during delivery.
Conceivably, the woman can be ready for surgery in thirty minutes after the decision is made. But, sometimes, thirty minutes of preparing is not enough to protect the baby's well-being, which should have been delivered earlier in emergency surgery.
Delayed C-sections leading to birth injuries can be catastrophic, resulting in cerebral palsy, development disability, permanent brain damage, hemorrhaging, hypoxia, infection, or damage to the lungs from a lack of enough oxygen.
How Dangerous is an Emergency C-Section?
While there are risks from any emergency procedure, a c-section is largely safe if the surgeon performs the surgery correctly. The more considerable risk is if the doctor delays the decision to opt for the surgery. In that case, the life of both the woman and her child can be in danger, and the child can suffer severe lifelong injuries.
Can a Delayed C-Section Cause Cerebral Palsy?
An infant in fetal distress may be experiencing oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery or when stuck in the birth canal. In addition, the fetal umbilical cord might be wrapped around their neck, cutting off blood flow to the baby's brain.
Oxygen deprivation (restricted blood flow) affects the baby's heart rate and could carry risks of severe complications, including brain damage and cerebral palsy. Any sign of fetal distress usually requires doctors to continuously monitor the high-risk pregnancy to eliminate problems resulting in a lack of oxygen.
While obstetricians should not recommend unneeded C-section deliveries for convenience, they need to monitor oxygen levels to keep the infant safe. If they cannot ensure that the unborn child is getting enough oxygen during labor and delivery, they must perform emergency C-section deliveries.
Do You Need a Lawyer for a Delayed C-Section Case?
Proving a medical malpractice case or birth injury claim requires showing precisely how the doctor acted unreasonably starting prenatal care until labor and delivery. Thus, resolving a case often requires a birth injury lawyer who can build a solid case using relevant medical and scientific experts to show that the doctor did not uphold their duty of care when they chose to delay an emergency C-section.
Someone will need to recreate what happened in the delivery or operating room for the birth jury. If the doctor or hospital wants to settle the case, you will need someone to negotiate a settlement.
How Long Does a Delayed C-Section Case Take to Resolve?
It all depends on when the court scheduled the trial and whether the defendant is willing to settle the case. Medical malpractice cases take time because you will need to have detailed discovery, and your trial may take longer as it involves scientific evidence after the court date is set.
It is not uncommon for emergency c-section cases to take years to move through the legal system.
After you or your child has been injured by the doctor's poor decision to delay or not perform a c-section, you should immediately seek legal help and schedule a free consultation with a delayed c-section lawyer. You might want to contact the law firm as soon as possible to get the process started for you and your family to receive financial compensation.
Talk to Experienced Birth Injury Attorneys About a C-Section Birth Injury Case
Did you require an emergency C-section delivery that resulted in a birth injury? Were your child's injuries related to a delayed cesarean section? Did your baby show signs of fetal distress?
You likely have grounds to file a medical negligence lawsuit against the doctor and hospital. At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, the birth injury attorneys are legal advocates for both mother and child injured by medical errors.
Call our law office today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to schedule a free initial consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Many medical malpractice cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the treatment and caring their child requires.