Maternal Death During Child Birth Attorney
Maternal Mortality Medical Malpractice Lawyers Helping Your Family
Our birth injury lawyers represent injured victims and lawsuits involving birth injury, wrongful death of the newborn or mother. In addition, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC work tirelessly to ensure the surviving family members have justice for losing their loved one involved in a maternal death during childbirth.
Our legal team has successfully prosecuted defendants whose negligence caused the unexpected premature death of a mother or other maternal or birth injury during labor or delivery.
Our childbirth injury attorneys are available to answer any legal questions you have on how to receive the monetary compensation you deserve if you lost your loved one through someone else's negligence. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights. So call us today for your free consultation.
It wasn't long ago that childbirth was commonly viewed as one of life's most dreaded events experienced by pregnant women.
During the 18th century, the maternal death rate was at an alarming twelve percent of live births! Moreover, complications such as dehydration, blood loss, convulsion, and infection were an accepted part of the birthing process.
While the maternal mortality rate has decreased in the developed world since the 1800s, there are still dangers to American women during childbirth as death rates have recently risen.
Have Advancements in Medical Technology Improved Maternal Health?
Thankfully, advancements in modern medicine have dramatically reduced the incidence of pregnancy and delivery complications in women in the United States. In addition, a safer environment has reduced the number of maternal and birth injuries.
Nonetheless, maternal death rates remain higher in specific segments and ethnicities of the population, such as black women. However, as with all areas of medicine, it is ultimately up to physicians and medical staff to monitor the mother and child for complications and implement treatment as needed.
Maternal Death Statistics
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there has been a significant rise in the number of maternal deaths during childbirth across America since the early 1980s. These statistics account for the maternal deaths associated with childbearing before, during, and six weeks after delivery. These statistics reveal that:
- In 1982, there were 7.5 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births
- In 2004, there were 13.2 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births
- In 2005, there were 15.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 births
The increase in childbirth-related maternal deaths has more than doubled in 23 years. The pregnancy-related deaths involving African-American mothers reached a staggering 36.5 per 100,000 births in 2005.
What is Preeclampsia?
The body, during normal pregnancy development, increases the production of blood volumes. However, in some women, blood volume production is accompanied by a steep and dangerous increase in blood pressure.
Women who had had 'normal' blood pressure readings before they were pregnant and then experienced high blood pressure combined with heightened protein levels in their urine can develop preeclampsia.
Doctors do not know precisely what causes preeclampsia. However, five percent of all pregnant women will develop the condition. The only known significant warning signs and symptoms associated with preeclampsia include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Proteinuria (elevated protein levels in the urine)
Typically, the expecting or delivering mother will be unaware that they have high blood pressure or elevated protein levels (proteinuria). The doctors will usually only diagnose the condition upon observation during an antenatal (while pregnant or during delivery) visit.
When untreated or undiagnosed, preeclampsia can result in serious or deadly complications for both the mother and baby. Given the universally accepted dangers associated with preeclampsia, doctors should be mindful of the risk and carefully monitor the woman's condition.
What Causes Preeclampsia?
Medical science has not yet determined the common causes of preeclampsia. However, some research studies show that the condition develops as the body's reaction to placenta issues when there is restricted blood flow due to narrowing blood vessels or hormonal changes.
When the blood vessels become narrowed, normal blood flow can become extremely limited and cause problems that include:
- Blood vessel damage
- Immune system issues
- Insufficient uterus blood flow
However, genetic factors may also play a crucial role in the development of preeclampsia.
The Progression of Preeclampsia
In the later stages of preeclampsia, the mother may experience edema (fluid retention) where the face, ankles, feet, or hands become swollen. Swelling is normal during pregnancy, especially in the last few months, so differentiating normal pregnancy-related swelling for preeclampsia can be confusing.
However, there are significant indicators that could occur in the progression of the stages of preeclampsia leading to birth injury or maternal death that include:
- Blurred vision, including the sensation of flashing lights;
- Overall malaise (a general sense of illness or discomfort);
- Rapid but unexpected weight gain as the body responds to fluid retention;
- Severe headaches;
- Shortness of breath;
- Impaired liver function with or without intense pain below the ribs (right side only);
- Decreasing blood platelet levels;
- Decreasing urine output.
Preeclampsia developing before the child was born could cause stunted fetal growth when the blood supply to the placenta is restricted.
Without proper treatment, the mother can die. Unfortunately, in some countries, the mortality rate of mothers during childbirth has significantly spiked, even though there have been significant advancements in medicines and technology.
Currently, effective treatment for mothers experiencing preeclampsia who are in danger of early death include:
- Antihypertensives are prescribed to lower the mother's blood pressure to prevent maternal injuries.
- Corticosteroids seem effective at treating HELLP syndrome and preeclampsia because steroids improve liver function and increase blood platelet levels. However, taking corticosteroids to treat preeclampsia could prolong the pregnancy or lead to maternal injury.
- Anticonvulsants are prescribed in severe birth injury cases to avoid a seizure. The administration of this drug might include magnesium sulfate.
Other Causes for Maternal Death During Childbirth
Some women die unexpectedly when giving birth due to a pre-existing pregnancy risk factor that does not display itself until the mother is in labor or delivering their child.
However, there are also maternal deaths caused by medical malpractice when the obstetrician misdiagnoses a pregnant mother's condition, performs a catastrophic mistake during labor or delivery, or ruins a surgical procedure, including a cesarean section.
Other times, maternal death occurs during labor or delivery due to a reaction to a toxic medication or from a defective medical device. The most common causes associated with maternal death during childbirth include:
- Placenta Previa– Typically, the placenta in the womb will attach to the upper part of the uterus opposite the cervix. However, with placenta previa, the blood vessels connecting the uterus to the placenta can tear and cause uncontrollable bleeding to the mother and the baby.
- Uterine Rupture– The uterine wall can tear, usually at the site of a previous cesarean section incision causing dire consequences to the baby and mother.
- Early signs of uterine rupture include:
- Excessive vaginal bleeding
- A bulge in the pubic bone
- Less intense or slower contractions
- Abnormal abdominal soreness or pain
- Sudden intense pain between labor contractions
- Intense pain that occurs at an earlier uterine scar site
- Placental Abruption– The placenta can separate from the uterine lining, usually in the third trimester, and produce a gush of blood. The severe condition can deprive the fetus of nutrients and oxygen and cause life-threatening, severe bleeding.
- Complications associated with Cervical Cancer or Polyps– Many pregnant mothers develop polyps caused by increased estrogen hormone levels. Cervical polyps usually develop as a benign condition but can become cancerous. Early warning signs during pregnancy include intense pelvic pain and blood-tinged vaginal discharge.
- Postpartum Hemorrhage– Mothers who experience bleeding after the child was born often suffer from an undiagnosed laceration from natural causes or during a cesarean section. Without immediate treatment that might include blood transfusions and IV (intravenous) fluids for postpartum hemorrhages, the mother could die.
- Heart Disease and Cardiac Arrest– The ordinary course of a woman's pregnancy can lead to extensive changes in the expected mother's cardiac function. Due to an increase in blood volume, the mother might experience decreasing vascular resistance, leading to cardiac arrest. Other pregnant women who suffer from pre-existing cardiac problems, including heart disease, might have an increased potential risk of an unexpected maternal death before, during, or after delivery.
- Placenta accreta– Pregnancy-related placenta accreta happens when the placenta grows deeply in the uterine wall. Placenta accreta can cause blood clots or severe blood loss after delivery.
Sometimes the mother dies when giving birth because the doctor failed to diagnose or address risk factors, including blood clot problems or preeclampsia.
Amniotic Fluid Embolism
Mothers can experience horrific complications that resulted in her death when an amniotic fluid embolism develops. The fluid from the amniotic sac can enter the mother's circulatory system and bring with it "fetal debris" that migrates to other areas of the mother's body, including the organs.
The mother's body typically reacts to the potential of an amniotic fluid embolism by going into shock, causing traumatic, premature labor or placental abruption.
When the embolism develops, the medical professional typically has to use vacuum extraction or forceps during delivery. Usually, the warning signs for an amniotic embolism are easy to anticipate, so a failure to protect the mother with obvious risk factors might constitute legal issues, including medical malpractice.
Maternal Deaths and Fatal Cesarean Section
A cesarean section can carry significant life-threatening risks but might be a necessary treatment to preserve the safety and health of both the baby and the mother.
However, any mistake during the procedure could claim either life or both, leading to a medical malpractice lawsuit. In addition, any time a physician fails to diagnose maternal hardship or fetal distress during labor and delivery, a preventable birth injury will likely occur.
Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers Representing Families Where Women Die During Childbirth
The death of a mother during or after the birth of a child is not a common occurrence. Consequently, all maternal death cases need to be carefully evaluated to determine if the health care provider was medically negligent.
We have successfully settled many million-dollar cases on behalf of the victims and their family members to ensure they were adequately compensated to cover their medical expenses, household bills, daycare costs, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain, suffering, and emotional damage. We can help your family too.
Maternal Deaths Based on Ethnicities
Significantly more than white women, African-American women tend to have poor or less quality prenatal care and a higher incidence rate of high blood pressure early on during the pregnancy. In addition, black women are more prone to developing fibroids, leading to significant hemorrhaging after delivering their baby.
The contributing factors detailed above and a negligent doctor disregarding the mother's health can dramatically increase their risk of suffering severe injuries where black mothers die during pregnancy and delivery.
However, the increasing risk factors associated with African-American women giving birth do not need to cause severe complications. With proper prenatal care, many of the injuries and deaths associated with pregnancy among black women are preventable.
The nature of a vaginal delivery exposes women to various medical instruments, medical personnel, medical care, and medical facilities that must be kept in a sterile condition.
In addition to the usual trauma inherent with a 'normal' delivery for a woman, many minor and very ordinary complications such as vaginal tears, episiotomy incisions, and fissures may further expose a woman to unwanted bacteria or unsanitary techniques.
Cesarean sections present other risks and complications due to infection and improper surgical technique. Doctors performing the procedure must be mindful of the risk of excessive bleeding and uterine infections when closing the incisions made through the uterus and abdominal wall. If not, they may be sued in a medical malpractice claim.
What to Do When Your Spouse Dies During Labor and Delivery
The mother's unexpected death in labor after delivery is rare, but nothing can replace losing a loved one. Unfortunately, however, doctors do make mistakes, or hospitals and nurses act carelessly, recklessly, or negligently, causing catastrophic problems, including congenital disabilities and the death of the mother or child.
Many families facing the tragic outcome of maternal death during childbirth seek justice to hold those responsible for losing their loved one by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, severe cases can be complicated and require an experienced personal injury attorney specializing in wrongful death cases.
Hiring Experienced Maternal Death Attorneys
The medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers (888-424-5757) can assist you in explaining why the situation occurred. We will fight aggressively on your behalf in birth injury lawsuits to provide your family with the resources and financial recovery you and your children deserve for your loss.
Contact our attorneys today to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation to discuss the merits of your monetary recovery claim. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our law office remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Our law firm gets results quickly because we understand you need money now. We offer every client a "No Win/No-Fee" Guarantee, meaning if we cannot secure monetary compensation on your behalf, you owe us nothing.
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.