According to a report by Medstak, a couple recently filed a lawsuit alleging medical negligence that resulted in the death of their unborn child. The complaint names the hosptial and two medical centers as the responsible parties. It also lists several specific employees from each organization. The plaintiff was reportedly 30-years-old when she was admitted into the hospital for a scheduled inducing of labor. She states that she had medical complications with previous labor’s including gestational diabetes. According to the complaint, the parties assert that this history should have alerted doctors to possible problems with the labor and delivery process. The mother additionally claims that, once inducement was started, the fetus showed numerous signs of distress. However, from her perspective, hospital staff did nothing to address the signs.
The plaintiff’s baby was stillborn, with no heartbeat upon delivery. An autopsy reportedly concluded that asphyxia was the cause of death. Asphyxia occurs when there is not enough oxygen to the brain. According to the article, it is treatable if detected early. There are various levels of asphyxia. Mild asphyxia can be treated with minimal effects. Severe asphyxia can result in brain damage or organ failure. The most extreme cases result in death. The plaintiffs assert that the baby could have been saved if the hospital staff had completed the delivery by cesarean section earlier in the labor process.
The Causes and Risk Factors of Stillbirth
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists describes stillbirth as “a fetal death that occurs during pregnancy at 20 weeks or greater of gestation.” The organization reports that stillbirth occurs once in every 160 pregnancies, with about 25,000 stillbirths reported each year. Though this is a common occurrence, physicians remain somewhat unsure about its causes. However, several risk factors are known:
- African American women reportedly experience stillbirths more often than any other race of woman in the United States, even when receiving sufficient prenatal care
- Women with diabetes prior to pregnancy are more likely to deliver a stillborn child
- Obesity is a substantial risk factor, even when there are no additional health issues
- A pregnancy of two or more babies is four times more likely to conclude with a stillbirth
- Older women with their first pregnancy have a higher risk of stillbirth than older women who have been pregnant before
According to the Medstak report, Norwegian researchers claim that “half of all birth asphyxia cases may be attributed to medical negligence.” Inadequate fetal monitoring and lack of overall clinical skill are reportedly the major causes for this disturbing conclusion. The plaintiff in the North Carolina case alleges that the hospital staff did not adequately monitor the fetal monitor throughout the inducement of labor. This allegedly led to a lack of action on the part of the physician.
If your baby was stillborn and you suspect medical negligence, call an experienced attorney who will aggressively advocate to pursue any relief to which you are entitled.