Trauma Caused by Bait & Switch Maternity Care

Trauma Caused by Bait & Switch Maternity Care

by / Wednesday, 27 July 2022 / Published in Birth Trauma, Medical Malpractice
Overhead view of a mother in a hospital gown holding a newborn baby.

One aspect of consumer law that people commonly know is the concept of “bait and switch.” A bait and switch occurs when a company advertises one product or service without actually intending to sell the product/service at the advertised price. Instead, they try to convince consumers to purchase another, more expensive, product/service that the company can make more money on. While you most commonly see bait and switch accusations made against retail establishments, a similar concept can occur in maternity care. 

As expectant mothers prepare for the arrival of their child, they often develop specific plans for how they want their delivery to be handled. Sometimes, this happens because a mother has previously given birth and would like their next birthing experience to be different. In other cases, they’ve researched something in particular that they would like to be part of their birthing plan, such as an unmedicated delivery, VBAC, or wireless fetal monitoring that allows the mother to walk around during labor. In any case, when specific birthing plans are being made, the expectant mother wants to seek out doctors who can help support that plan. 

However, it’s not unheard of for mothers to choose a care provider based on promises made to support a birthing plan, only to simply not receive the care originally discussed and agreed upon or feel pressured into different types of care. While it’s very common for birthing plans to not be followed due to changing circumstances during delivery, some new mothers end up feeling like they were completely misled about the care they were promised in the beginning and the outcomes can be devastating. 

One high-profile case of a maternity care bait and switch occurred in Alabama in 2012. In this case, the mother chose her OB/GYN to deliver her fourth child because she was drawn in by the medical center’s ads promoting their support for a wide range of birthing options and the availability of wireless monitoring. She specifically did not want to be confined to a bed during labor, wanted a water birth, and wanted to be able to labor in different positions, all of which the OB/GYN supported. But when she went into labor and arrived at the hospital, her OB/GYN was not on call and the nurses completely disregarded all of the plans that had been agreed upon. She was ordered into a bed and not allowed to move around during delivery, she was physically forced onto her back when she tried to change positions to alleviate pain, and questions she asked were not answered. When the baby’s head started to crown, the doctor had not arrived and nurses held the baby’s head in for six minutes to wait for the doctor. 

While the baby was born safe and healthy, the mother in this story was seriously injured as a result of the treatment she received during delivery. She did not recover from that delivery like she had after giving birth to her other children and later discovered she sustained a permanent nerve condition called pudendal neuropathy, resulting in chronic pain and leaving her unable to have more children. She filed a lawsuit against the hospital in 2014 and in 2016, she was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages for her injuries and $5 million in punitive damages, while her husband was awarded $1 million for loss of consortium. Through her lawsuit, she found out the hospital was not set up to support communication between doctors and nurses for personalized birth plans, that she had been given Pitocin without her knowledge or permission, and nurses did not receive training in assisting with un-medicated deliveries as the hospital had advertised. 

Contact a Michigan Birth Trauma Lawyer

Even under the best of circumstances, giving birth can be unpredictable. But it’s always important for patients to be informed about medications they’re given, the procedures that are performed, and that care meets appropriate quality standards. If you’ve been harmed by a medical professional failing to obtain informed consent, it’s extremely important to consult a birth trauma lawyer as soon as possible. Very often, birth trauma is a type of medical malpractice and you need someone on your side who knows the law and can help you understand your rights. 

At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a Michigan-based lawyer experienced in handling both birth trauma and medical malpractice cases. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

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