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Officials at the World Health Organization have long held that the given rate of cesarean sections performed in a country should sit somewhere between 10 to 15 percent due to the heightened health risks for both mother and baby. However, this is not the current reality here in the U.S. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that in 2012 the C-section rate in the U.S. hovered around 33 percent or nearly 1.3 million births.
According to experts, there are a multitude of reasons for the high rate of C-sections in the U.S., which have been climbing steadily since 1996 before leveling off as of late. Some of these reasons include an uptick in the number of so-called high-risk pregnancies, ease of scheduling and concerns among OB/GYNs over the possibility of medical malpractice lawsuits.
As it turns out, a C-section is at the epicenter of a very interesting lawsuit recently filed in the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, New York. While you might think that there is perhaps nothing especially noteworthy about a single medical malpractice lawsuit concerning a C-section, consider that this case involves allegations that a woman was actually forced by her physicians to undergo the procedure.
According to the complaint, the woman entered a New York-area hospital back in July 2011 to give birth to her third child. Wanting to avoid giving birth by C-section for a third time, the woman attempted to deliver in the traditional manner.
The complaint goes on to allege, however, that after several hours of labor and intense pleading to give her more time, physicians began pressuring the woman to undergo a C-section, claiming that her actions were tantamount to child abuse and that her baby would be taken away by state officials if she did not consent.
Shockingly, the lawsuit claims that the woman’s wishes were eventually overruled completely and that she was rolled into an operating room where a C-section was performed.
Indeed, a note from the hospital’s director of fetal and maternal medicine reads, “I have decided to override her refusal to have a C-Section,” and states that both the hospital attorney and the treating physician agreed with this decision.
The lawsuit, which names the physicians and the hospital as defendants, states that they applied undue pressure and threats to the woman, whose son was thankfully born healthy. It also accuses them of “improperly substituting their judgment for that of another.”
It should be very interesting to see how this case, which is already being monitored by both legal experts and medical ethicists, develops.
If you believe that medical negligence during the delivery process was to blame for a life-altering personal injury or the onset of a debilitating birth injury, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options for securing justice.
Source: The New York Times, “Mother accuses doctors of forcing a C-section and files suit,” Anemona Hartocollis, May 16, 2014