Interventions in perinatal setting may help reduce birth injuries

The birth of a child is a life changing but exciting event for most families. However, despite all the advances in obstetrics, labor and delivery complications such as birth hypoxia, asphyxia, issues with anesthetics and cardiac arrest can occur which may put both the mother and the infant at risk. Further, postpartum hemorrhaging is one of the most common causes of maternal death. These adverse events likely give rise to suits of medical negligence during labor.

New Jersey and New York families expecting a child or planning on having a child will find it comforting to know that according to a new study, when healthcare providers follow set protocols in perinatal settings, harm to mothers and their infants is significantly reduced. Fourteen hospitals participated in this perinatal safety initiative that used care bundles – evidence based interventions that are more effective used together instead of individually. The initiative provided steps for three scenarios – elective induction, augmentation, and vacuum extraction. When the care bundles were implemented, harm to mother and infant was lowered and the study found that it helped resolve claims and decrease the number of claims filed.

Even though the study shows that implementing care bundles can reduce preventable birth injuries, the fact remains that adverse health effects such as harm to mother and infant do happen. When they do, they can devastate a family. Obstetrics requires quick problem solving and thinking during labor and delivery. Thus, one wrong decision can lead to harm.

Families who have been harmed by the negligent act of an obstetrics doctor or nurse should not suffer in silence. Seeking legal recourse may not be the first thing on one’s mind after an adverse event, but families may find comfort in exploring their options and having an expert handle complex legal issues. When harm has resulted to the mother, infant or both, the family may be entitled to compensation.

Healthcare providers have an on-going duty to provide a reasonable standard of care, but when they fail to do so the doctor, nurse and hospital can be held responsible. Every case and circumstance is different. Thus, it is crucial to consider seeking expert help in a complex and challenging area of law.

Source: AMA, “Preventable birth injuries cut after proven interventions are bundled,” Tanya Albert Henry, Dec. 19, 2012