HOW CAN THE USA BE THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE TO GIVE BIRTH IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD?A recent investigation by USA Today reported that out of all of the developed countries in the world, the United States ranks highest for maternal death during childbirth. The report shines a bright light on the staggering statistics of maternal death or serious injury that occur because hospitals across the country are deliberately choosing to ignore established practices and procedures that are intended to protect mothers and their babies before, during and after labor. More than 50,000 women suffer a serious injury and nearly 700 die during childbirth in the United States.

Use of Pitocin

Obstetricians have long established maternal and fetal practices to ensure the safety of both mother and child during childbirth. Standards for administering labor-inducing drugs such as Pitocin, medications for maternal high blood pressure and for assessing a mother for post-delivery bleeding have been in place and they do not involve complex or expensive techniques. What they do require is vigilance, attention, recognition and rapid response. Unfortunately and shockingly, hospitals across the country admit they are not following or implementing basic safety measures.

In the instance of Pitocin use, policies are in place to govern how much pitocin can be used and how quickly it can be administered. These policies are vital in general but can be critical in the case of a vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC). Too often pitocin policies are ignored by labor and delivery nurses until it is too late and a mother’s uterus becomes hyperstimulated resulting in uterine rupture. Uterine rupture causes the mother to bleed excessively and cuts off the oxygen to the fetus, often resulting in a hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a devastating brain injury for the newborn.

Other policies, regarding estimating maternal blood loss are also ignored. Too often medical providers are not weighing bloody pads post-delivery to get an accurate clinical picture of blood loss. In addition, not enough attention is given to the signs and symptoms of internal bleeding for women who have had c-sections. Abdominal pain, swelling and low blood pressure are often discounted until new mothers nearly bleed to death. In addition, high blood pressure during and after delivery is often not assessed and treated properly, leading to stroke.

The USA Today article provides insight into the ways hospitals disregard safety practices they know are designed to protect mothers and babies. When the system fails these vulnerable patients, it turns what is supposed to be the best day of a mother’s life into a nightmare. These injuries and deaths are preventable and actionable. Because an injury during child birth can be catastrophic to both mother and child with life-long consequences, you should contact an experienced attorney if you believe you or a loved one has been a victim of an injury during childbirth.

Contact our Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Richards & Richards medical malpractice lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience and have successfully handled extensive birth injury cases. Contact Richards & Richards today to schedule a free consultation.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

To learn more about attorney Sandra S. Neuman, read her biography here. 

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