If doctors or other medical professionals are not proactive in screening and managing a high-risk pregnancy, they can be held legally accountable if the mother or baby sustain a birth injury or wrongful death. If a doctor fails to properly diagnose the signs of a high-risk pregnancy, the results can be catastrophic. Examples of medical conditions that add risk to a woman’s pregnancy include high blood pressure, preeclampsia and the baby’s size while in the womb. It is the doctor’s responsibility to look for high risk signs and decide whether they put the mother or infant at risk.
Certain women are at greater risk for medical conditions that can harm their developing fetuses or endanger their own lives. At the Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates, we represent families who have been harmed, suffered harm due to negligent managment of a high-risk pregnancy, labor or delivery. Our birth injury law firm has successfully handled cases involving mismanagement of high-risk pregnancies, including claims involving:
Advanced Maternal Age
Women age 35 or older have an increased risk of birth injuries and birth defects including Down syndrome, miscarriage, gestional diabetes, high blood pressure, placental problems and premature birth. Advanced maternal age is directly related to an increased risk of Down syndrome. Certain medical testing can detect the presence of chromosomal defects that cause Down syndrome and other birth defects. Parents must be offered the opportunity to find out whether their infant has these defects. These tests are voluntary, however, offering the opportunity to be tested is not. Doctors who fail to offer the parents these medical tests can be held legally responsible.
Premature babies are more susceptible to developmental problems, delivery trauma and neonatal death. A doctor must make every effort to prolong gestation while monitoring for distress that may require emergency birth delivery. Doctors can often prevent premature labor and premature birth. Our birth injury lawyers represent families in premature birth injuries, including claims that involve a failure to:
Diagnose problems during ultrasound tests
Diagnose and treat preeclampsia or infections
Diagnose and treat incompetent cervix
Recognize and treat premature rupture of membranes
Recognize preterm labor & administer anti-contraction medications (tocolytics)
Perform an emergency cesarean delivery (C-section)
Administer corticosteroids to the fetus when premature birth is imminent
Monitor the infant for dehydration, low glucose, and seizures
A multiple pregnancy increases the risks involved in any pregnancy and birth, whether the mother is pregnant with twins, triplets, quadruplets or more. Early screening and regular prenatal visits to the doctor are critical to monitoring the health of the infants. Medical negligence may involve failure to perform routine tests, such as ultrasounds and fetal non-stress tests. Other negligent errors could include the failure to recognize fetal distress or symptoms in the mother, inappropriate medical response to complications, and failure to plan for a C-section when necessary. Our birth injury attorneys are experienced at conducting a full independent investigation in order to prove liability on the part of doctors, nurses, and hospitals.
Large infants present more challenges during pregnancy, labor and delivery than average sized ones. Infants with excessive birth weight, known as macrosomia, are at a greater risk for a birth injury to the mother and child. Ultrasound images taken at different stages of pregnancy estimate the size of the fetus. Medical malpractice can occur if a doctor or other medical profesional fails to properly interpret ultrasound tests or fails to properly estimate the weight of the fetus. When doctors are attempting to estimate fetal weight, they must also consider the mother’s height and weight, obstetrical history, size of the pelvis, and the presence of gestational diabetes. If the fetus is too large for delivery through the mother’s pelvis, the infant may need to be delivered by Cesarean section. A failure to perform a C-section delivery in a timely manner can cause a serious birth injury or even death to the mother or child.
Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
Women who have had a previous C-section birth can attempt a vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC). However, VBACs can be risky because the uterus already has been scarred from the previous Cesarean delivery. Stress from the labor could cause the uterus to tear along the scar of the C-section, known as a uterine rupture. This places the mother and child at risk of a serious birth injury. When a mother decides to attempt a VBAC, doctors and other medical professionals must recognize that there is a lower threshold for intervention for a VBAC patient than for someone who has never had a C-section birth delivery. They must pay close attention to the fetal monitoring strips for indications of fetal distress and be ready to order a C-section delivery.
Premature Rupture of Membranes
When a woman’s water breaks, it means that the amniotic sac surrounding the baby has broken or torn. This is known as the rupture of membranes. Normally the membranes rupture just before the start of labor. The premature rupture of membranes (PROM), is when the mother is past 37 weeks of gestation and labor has not yet begun. If the membranes rupture before 37 weeks of gestation, it is known as a pre-term, premature rupture of membranes (pProm). If a doctor or other medical professional fails to establish whether Prom or pProm occurred, and fails to respond properly to the premature rupture of membranes, then the infant can be at risk of serious birth injuries. The vagina can contain bacteria that has direct access to the fetus. The umbilical cord can prolapse and the membranes can become inflamed. PProm can cause pre-term labor which exposes the infant to risks of premature birth, which includes respiratory distress or brain damage from a lack of oxygen due to ill formed lungs.
Contact a High-Risk Pregnancy Attorney
Just because you fell into a high-risk pregnancy category does not excuse medical malpractice. The skilled and experienced birth injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates can determine whether malpractice occurred during your pregnancy, labor and delivery. If the facts support your claim of a birth injury, we can assist you in pursuing financial compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Dr. Bruce Fagel practiced emergency medicine for 10 years before becoming an attorney. In fact, he still maintains his medical license. Due to his decades of experience as a medical malpractice attorney, he knows how to identify and expose medical malpractice. Dr. Fagel and his talented staff have handled more than 700 medical malpractice and negligence cases and have obtained more than $1 billion in settlements and jury verdicts.