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How do doctors contribute to birth injuries like cerebral palsy?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Your doctor plays a crucial role during the delivery of your unborn child. They provide advice and screening for high-risk during pregnancy and guide you through the labor process with advice and medical interventions when necessary.

Unfortunately, doctors can make mistakes during the labor and delivery process that can contribute to the unfortunate outcomes that their patients experience. For example, a doctor’s mistakes during labor could lead to an infant developing severe birth injuries.

What are some of the ways that doctors contribute to birth injuries?

Inadequate fetal monitoring

An infant can go into distress during labor for many reasons. One of the more common is inadequate oxygen, possibly due to issues with the placenta or the umbilical cord getting wrapped around their neck.

Proper fetal monitoring is crucial for the early detection of signs that an infant has gone into distress so that doctors can intervene before irreparable damage occurs. Not only should doctors start fetal monitoring in a timely manner, but their nurses and other support staff should check the monitor frequently to ensure proper placement and performance of the device.

Unnecessary and aggressive interventions during birth

Some women struggle during the birth process due to exhaustion, a very large baby or pre-existing medical conditions. Doctors need to know when to intervene and when to let the body handle the natural process on its own.

Sometimes, giving medication to speed up labor can cause dangerous side effects, especially if neither mother nor child was in distress. The use of forceps or vacuum extraction could lead to injuries to mother and child. Doctors should only intervene when it is medically necessary and should use the least invasive interventions available.

Not adhering to best practices for labor and delivery

Given how dangerous the labor and birth processes are for both mother and child, there is plenty of medical literature establishing best practices for different birthing situations.

Doctors should defer to best practices and established protocol when deciding how to treat a patient. Inappropriate practices, like the off-label use of drugs not approved for use during labor, could potentially complicate the situation or result in a tragic outcome.

When mother or child suffers a significant birth injury that relates to a doctor’s decisions, that doctor’s mistakes might constitute actionable medical malpractice.