Doctors have a legal duty to treat patients in accordance to established
medical guidelines and standards, as doing so is critical to avoiding
preventable injuries. While evaluating whether a medical professional
took appropriate steps to treat a patient as a reasonably skillful doctor
would under the same or similar circumstances is an important part of
determining whether negligence played a role in causing
birth injuries, it is also important to evaluate whether or not doctors adequately discussed
information about procedures and associated risks – including risks
related to cesarean sections, or C-sections for short.
During pregnancy, doctors have ample opportunity to speak with and evaluate
pregnant mothers, conduct testing, and prepare them for delivery. This
includes an evaluation of potential risk factors and complications that
would necessitate a C-section per accepted medical guidelines, including:
- Twin births
- Large babies, or a history of large babies
- Placental problems
- Chronic health conditions (diabetes, high blood pressures, etc.)
- Premature labor
- Complications during labor and delivery
Doctors have a legal duty to properly interpret test results and discussions
with mothers to evaluate foreseeable risks associated with vaginal delivery.
When appropriate, they should discuss the possibility of C-sections with
mothers as a means to avoid and mitigate these risks, as well as risks
inherent to C-section procedures themselves.
Is Medical Negligence Involved?
If a doctor failed to discuss C-sections and / or risks associated with
them before your delivery, it could mean that they were not appropriately
assessing complications they could and should have foreseen. This means
that if they attempt to deliver a baby naturally when circumstances and
medical standards would necessitate a C-section – such as through
induction and use of Pitocin or labor-inducing drugs, medical devices like
forceps or vacuums, or other methods – they may be held liable for injuries resulting
from a failure to perform a C-section, or delays in performing a C-section.
Not discussing C-sections and associated risks with mothers may also constitute
medical malpractice when physicians decide to perform the procedure without obtaining a mothers
consent. Although medical professionals can perform medical procedures
in emergency situations (which constitutes a patient’s
implied consent), experts suggest that only approximately 5% of C-sections are true emergencies.
This means doctors would need to obtain a patient’s
informed consent to perform a C-section in most cases – either as an elective procedure,
a result of their evaluations, or a possibility should certain complications
arise. When obtaining informed consent, doctors must also warn mothers
about potential risks to themselves and their babies. If a doctor does
not discuss risks or the procedure thoroughly with a patient, it may constitute
a lack of consent.
Determining whether medical negligence was involved in your birth injury
case – whether it involves injuries to the mother or the baby –
is a case-by-case matter. Our legal team at Shrager & Sachs leverages
over 80 years of collective experience to fight for medical malpractice
and birth injury victims across Pennsylvania, including those who have
been harmed as a result of C-section errors, lack of consent, and other
forms of medical negligence. Our Philadelphia birth injury lawyers are
available to review your potential case and discuss whether you may have
a right to seek legal action and a recovery of your damages.
To discuss your case,
contact us for a FREE consultation.