Can a Stillbirth be Caused by Medical Malpractice?
When a woman learns she’s expecting a child, her mind often turns toward positive experiences like being able to hold her child for the first time and the joy that comes with being able to watch it grow over the years. So when she goes through pregnancy expecting to give birth to a healthy baby, one of the most deeply devastating things she can hear is that her baby is no longer showing any signs of life. Sometimes this news might come right after delivery or before the baby is due, after the mother has reached the 20 week mark of her pregnancy.
It’s estimated that about 1 in 160 pregnancies ends in stillbirth. Unfortunately, it isn’t definitively known what exactly causes stillbirth, which makes them difficult to prevent. According to one study from 2008, some of the common known causes of stillbirths included pregnancy complications, placental disease, genetic abnormalities in the child, umbilical cord accidents, or hypertension disorders. But very often, they happen without explanation and when the doctor has done nothing wrong. You could be seeing one of the best doctors in the world and it’s still possible for stillbirth to occur.
Even though stillbirth is, in many cases, beyond a doctor’s control, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s never the result of medical malpractice or birth trauma. There are some factors which have been linked to an increased risk of stillbirth, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, other maternal medical conditions, older maternal age, smoking, pregnancies that involve multiple fetuses, and a woman having a history of previous miscarriages or stillbirths. Doctors have a duty to understand these risk factors and if they’re aware that you have any of these risk factors, they need to take steps to monitor your pregnancy accordingly.
Since many stillbirths are caused by birth defects, a doctor might be deemed negligent if a child was stillborn because the doctor failed to do proper testing or failed to diagnose a birth defect earlier in the pregnancy. During labor and delivery, it’s also very important that doctors and other medical professionals adequately monitor the vital signs of both the mother and the child to watch for signs of distress. It’s very easy for complications to come up during labor and delivery, even in a healthy pregnancy. If a baby goes into distress, doctors need to take appropriate measures to deliver the baby as quickly and safely as possible to prevent injury or death.
If you’ve experienced a stillbirth and you think it could have been prevented, contact a birth trauma lawyer. Stillbirth cases can be extremely complicated and a lawyer will be able to answer your questions, understand your situation, and help you understand what options would be open to you.