Every expectant mother hopes for an easy pregnancy followed by a safe labor and delivery experience to ensure the child is born healthy. However, certain problems can arise, especially in women who have a vaginal birth after an earlier cesarean (VBAC) delivery. Many women experience an unexpected uterine tear that might be caused by medical negligence. Because of that, many families have filed a uterine rupture malpractice case against the medical team and hospital when something went horribly wrong during pregnancy or childbirth.
A uterine rupture during labor and delivery is one of the most severe threats to the health of mother and baby. The developing condition is most common in women with prior cesarean sections, surgeries in the uterus, or when too much Pitocin has been administered. A uterine rupture develops when the myometrial wall (uterus) tears and the contents of the uterus spill out into the perinatal cavity.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents victims of medical malpractice, defective medical devices (product liability) and other types of professional negligence. Our law firm has successfully prosecuted cases for our clients who suffered a uterine rupture because of the negligent actions of others. Our reputable attorneys are available to answer any legal questions on how to receive the monetary compensation you deserve if your injuries were a result of a medical professional's mistake. Should you have additional questions, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights.
What is a Uterine Rupture?
This rare, serious, life-threatening complication is caused by a breach in the myometrial wall when the uterus contents (including the fetus) spill into the expectant mother's broad ligament (mesothelial cell sheet) or peritoneal cavity. Approximately 1% of all expectant women suffer a uterine rupture that could place the health of the baby or mother in great danger. Typically, the doctor will discuss the concern for the baby's health and must take quick action to perform an immediate cesarean section.
If the emergency surgical intervention takes longer than 40 minutes, the child can die from asphyxiation (lack of oxygen), typically caused by severe bleeding in the mother's womb. Doctors perform most uterine rupture C-section procedures with a low-transverse (horizontal) incision to minimize any future rupture of the uterus and future pregnancies.
What Causes Uterine Ruptures?
The buildup of pressure during labor is the major cause of a uterine tear when the baby is moving through the birth canal during delivery. A uterine rupture problem is worsened, and the risk is much higher if the mother has a scar from a previous cesarean delivery.
How do I Know if I had a Uterine Tear?
There are many signs and symptoms associated with a uterine tear/rupture that include:
- Excessive vaginal bleeding
- Abnormal fetal heart rate
- Rapid maternal heart rate
- Maternal low blood pressure
- Maternal severe loss of blood
- Maternal bladder injury
- Maternal anemia (a lack of sufficient healthy red blood cells)
- Fetal hypoxia and anoxia (loss of fetal oxygen from diminished blood supply)
- Noticeable bulging under the mother's pubic bone
- Intense pain and major discomfort between contractions
- The baby's head recedes while traveling through the birth canal
- Abnormal abdominal soreness and intense pain
- The mother goes into shock
- Intense, sudden pain at a uterine scar from an earlier pregnancy
- Slower and decreasingly intense contractions
- Weakened uterine muscle tone
- Severe loss of blood
- Injuries that lead to a hysterectomy
- Hypoxia and anoxia
- Acidosis (excessive acid buildup in the baby's tissue and body fluids)
- Neonatal or fetal death typically caused by anoxic brain injury or hemorrhage
- Maternal death, typically because of excessive bleeding
If the baby survives the uterine tear, they often experience developmental delays or suffer from congenital disabilities including cerebral palsy caused by a lack of oxygen during delivery.
Am I at Risk for a Uterine Rupture?
Certain risk factors increase the potential risk of suffering from a uterine tear. Some of these factors include:
- An earlier C-section or uterine surgery to remove fibroid tumors.
- Grand multi-parity when women gave birth to five or more children.
- Prolong labor and delivery involving a larger than normal baby.
- An earlier uterine injury including those caused by trauma like a car accident, stabbing, or gunshot wound.
- Experiencing strong contractions or too close together caused by uncontrolled use of Pitocin or OxyContin.
- A pregnancy involving multiple babies where excessive amniotic fluid creates a distended uterus.
- Maternal obesity
- Women with metroplasty and myomectomy scars caused by the removal of uterus fibroids.
- Expectant mothers who experienced earlier uterine trauma like from a difficult delivery using forceps.
- Earlier uterine surgical procedures to treat gynecological or reproductive medical issues.
- Women with uterine perforation scars caused by a transcervical or uterine procedure complication.
- Women with scars caused by an earlier repair of a uterine tear.
- Women with hysterectomy scars from a C-section when the newborn's shoulders were caught on the mother's pelvis (shoulder dystocia).
- Malpresentation when the baby is not traveling through the birth canal in a typical head-first position. This condition involves breech delivery, or shoulder, face, or brow presentation.
- CPD (cephalopelvic disproportion) when the mother's pelvis is not large enough to accommodate the delivering baby who cannot pass through the maternal birth canal.
- Placental Abruption when the uterus separates from the placental lining that can completely or partially stop the mother's blood flow circulation to the baby.
- Macrostomia involving newborns that are substantially bigger than average.
- Difficult labor (labor dystocia) especially near the end of the pregnancy.
- History of fetal distress for the inability to physically tolerate labor and delivery.
Diagnosing Uterine Tears
Doctors are often challenged to diagnose a uterine rupture because many of the symptoms and indicators of a rupture are nonspecific. However, the doctor can perform tests and monitoring that would identify fetal distress including a diminished heart rate. Typically, an official diagnosis can be verified during surgery when the baby is removed from the mother in an emergency cesarean section.
When a woman suffers from obstetric hemorrhage (uterine rupture), the doctors have to monitor both the mother's health and the baby's health. If the doctors cannot get the bleeding under control or if the baby is in distress, doctors might have to perform an emergency C-section. Then, if they still cannot get the bleeding under control, a hysterectomy might be required to save the mother.
Preventing Uterine Ruptures
The only known preventative measures to prevent a uterine rupture is to undergo a cesarean delivery to avoid a vaginal birth. That said, women who still one a vaginal birth after experiencing a uterine rupture might have options in the hands of a qualified doctor. However, the physician should take a comprehensive medical and family history that documents every previous birth through cesarean delivery or any other surgery on the mother's uterus.
Do I Have a Valid Uterine Rupture Lawsuit?
If your medical records can prove that your doctors were negligent in their actions that led to the injury or death of the child or mother, you might have a valid uterine rupture claim for compensation. However, the evidence might not be obvious, which could make it difficult to file a lawsuit. Because of that, many families will hire an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases. The attorney can investigate your claim and provide numerous legal options on how to proceed.
My Wife Died during Childbirth. Do I Have a Case for Compensation?
Surviving family members who lost a wife, mother, or child during pregnancy likely has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against all those responsible for their loss. Potential defendants in a uterine rupture malpractice lawsuit could include a driver causing a fatal accident, an emergency room doctor, the expectant mother's obstetrician, the medical team, medical device manufacturers who sold faulty equipment, the hospital, and others.
What Would my Case be Worth?
Like all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits, your claim for compensation involves unique circumstances. Because of that, it is likely difficult to know the exact worth of your case. However, recent jury verdicts and negotiated out-of-court settlements in recent court cases can show you what others have received for their losses.
- $1,750,000 Negotiated Settlement – An expectant mother was taken to the hospital to undergo induced labor to deliver her child before the natural delivery. The obese mother presented numerous risk factors that would identify a uterine rupture including preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. The doctors moved to deliver the baby thirty-two minutes after the uterus had ruptured, causing the newborn to experience numerous complications including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, and substantial vision and hearing problems. The case was settled out of court between the defendant and plaintiff to avoid a jury trial.
- $750,000 Negotiated Settlement – A pregnant woman entered a hospital to deliver her baby. Approximately fourteen hours later, the doctors administered Pitocin to the expectant mother and gave her an epidural. Over two hours later after the administration of the Pitocin, the pregnant woman complained of experiencing severe abdominal pains. The doctors performed in an emergency C-section after diagnosing the woman with a ruptured uterus. During the delivery, the newborn was not breathing, and attempts by the medical team to revive the infant were unsuccessful. The plaintiff and defendants settled the case out of court for $750,000.
- $400,000 Negotiated Settlement – An expectant mother with a history of C-section procedures arrived at the local hospital to deliver her baby. The expectant mother's obstetrician (the defendant in the case) administered the mother Pitocin, a strong medication that would induce her labor before the doctor took a nap. While the obstetrician was asleep, the mother experienced a ruptured uterus which led to an emergency C-section. Unfortunately, the surgical intervention was unsuccessful. The child was born with severe brain damage and succumbed to their condition four days later. The plaintiff and defendant agreed to settle the case for $400,000 instead of taking the lawsuit to trial.
Timely Response to Signs of Distress
Response time is truly of the essence in responding to a uterine rupture. A delayed response or diagnosis of a uterine rupture can threaten the lives of both the mother and baby. In particular, a delivery team's delayed reaction may account for a mother's brain damage, heart attack or kidney damage.
To minimize the chance of uterine rupture, doctors and medical staff should conduct a complete health history of the mother and keep careful watch over baby's fetal heart rate, as a deterioration in the heart rate may be an indication of a potential uterine rupture or hemorrhage.
Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorneys Handling Birth Injuries Cases Involving Uterine Rupture
The medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are keenly aware of the safety threats to a mother and baby during the labor and delivery process. If you, your spouse, or child has suffered an injury following a uterine rupture or hemorrhage during delivery, our birth injury attorneys would be honored to discuss your legal options without charge or obligation.
Our law firm has successfully obtained millions on behalf of the victims and their family members to ensure they were adequately compensated to cover their medical expenses, household bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain, suffering, and emotional damage and we can help your family too.
Our legal team encourages you to contact our attorneys today to schedule a free, no-obligation case consultation to discuss the merits of your monetary recovery claim. We accept all personal injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits, and medical mistake injury claims through contingency fee arrangements. This legal contract postpones the payment of legal services until after we have successfully completed your case through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict.
Our law firm will work aggressively to resolve your case quickly because we understand you need money now. We proudly offer every client a “No Win/No-Fee” Guarantee, meaning if we are unable to secure financial compensation on your behalf you owe us nothing. All information you share with our law office will stay confidential.