3 lessons from recent birth injury case

A birth injury case provides lessons to victims in a similar position.

Obstetricians can carefully monitor the development of a fetus. In some cases, concerns with the infant's development may lead the physician to encourage early induction of labor. This intervention can help a struggling infant or better ensure the mother's health.

Whatever the reason for an early induction, it is not a decision to take lightly.

A recent case involves a mother that claims her obstetrician encouraged a medically unnecessary early induction. She further states this early induction resulted in injury to the mother and the infant.

Background: Pregnant mother seeks prenatal care

A woman sought medical care due to decreased fetal movement when approximately 36 weeks into her pregnancy. At this time, the obstetrician encouraged early induction.

Early induction involves stimulating the uterus to encourage contractions and delivery. Medical professionals recommend early induction when certain factors are present. These factors can include a pregnancy that is two weeks or more over the due date, the presence of an infection within the uterus, high maternal blood pressure and other medical conditions. Physicians generally do not recommend use of early induction for convenience until the infant reaches a gestational age of 39 weeks or more.

The procedure is not without risks. Excessive contractions can reduce the infant's oxygen supply and the mother can experience excessive bleeding after the delivery is complete.

Delivery: Early induction and injuries to both parties

In this case, both mother and infant experienced complications due to induction. The infant required neonatal care. After three days, the hospital discharged the baby girl with an acute respiratory distress diagnosis. One day after discharge, the mother returned with her infant. The baby girl appeared to have continued respiratory issues, often having the tissue around her mouth take on a blue coloration.

In addition to the infant's continued struggles, approximately two weeks after delivery the mother returned to the hospital. She presented with continued bleeding after the delivery and an examination revealed some material had remained within the uterus. As a result, she required a sonogram-guided suction dilation and curettage procedure (D&C) to remove the tissue. Two weeks after this procedure, the mother had a life-threatening hemorrhage and required a second D&C procedure.

Transition: Mother and child attempt to start a normal life, face obstacles due to birth injuries

The mother filed a claim against her obstetrician, stating the physician was negligent when he chose early induction of delivery. According to the claim, the induction led to the infant's continued respiratory problems and developmental delays, ultimately contributing to the child's development of autism. The mother also alleges the physician was negligent in his performance of the D&C procedure, resulting in infertility.

The physician countered the induction was supported by the patient's concern about reduced fetal movement and the infertility was due to the second D&C performed by another party. In this case, the defendant presented a stronger case and the jury ruled in the physician's favor.

Victims in similar situations can learn three things from this case:

•· Keep files. A successful birth injury case requires documentation. Keep files of medical records, bills and any other pertinent information to support your claim.

•· Find experts. A medical malpractice case often requires testimony of experts in the same field as the accused.

•· Act promptly. Victims must act promptly. These claims are subject to a time limit. As such, it is wise to seek legal counsel as soon as you suspect you or your infant was injured during the labor and delivery process.

Contact an experienced attorney to discuss your case and the best course of action to better ensure your legal rights and remedies are protected.