A new USA TODAY study confirms that birth injury cases happen all too often. When hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other health providers don’t do their jobs correctly, children suffer devastating birth injuries. Mothers who receive inadequate care may die, suffer serious injuries, and may not be able to have more children.
USA TODAY found that about 700 mothers die yearly and more than 50,000 suffer injuries yearly due to medical malpractice during delivery. The trend downwards in competent care is alarming. The United States is falling behind other countries in providing quality birth delivery care.
The USA TODAY study examined about 500,000 “internal hospital quality records” and about 150 cases where the deliveries “went terribly wrong.” Most of the hospitals the study examined were in the Carolinas, Pennsylvania and New York. Records showed that less than half of mothers giving births were treated promptly when their blood pressure reached a dangerous level – putting them at risk for a stroke.
A few illustrative examples
Birth injury errors happen across the board – at hospitals, major birthing centers, and small community delivery locations. A few studies demonstrate the dangers of medical malpractice during the delivery process:
- In an Ohio case, medical staff didn’t respond for hours to a woman who was bleeding internally. She had to be airlifted to another hospital so lifesaving surgery could be performed. The airlift was required because the first hospital had almost run out of blood.
- At a Texas facility, the failure to quantify loss of blood caused a mother to nearly bleed to death. Her heart stopped. Per the report, “She needed a hysterectomy. She’s now awaiting a kidney transplant.”
- In a prestigious South Carolina hospital, a mother was sent home with her newborn even though her blood pressure was extremely high. Compounding the error, the staff failed to timely treat her dangerously high blood pressure and complaints of a severe headaches. Headaches coupled with dangerously high blood pressure that soon after a recent delivery were clear and obvious warning signs which were inexplicably missed by hospital. She suffered a stroke and later died.
Many of the steps that should be taken to protect mothers are fairly routine and inexpensive. Examples include tracking blood loss by weighing bloody pads and “giving medication within an hour of spotting dangerously high blood pressure to fend off strokes.” Failing to weigh the pads can mean women bleed internally until their organs shut down.
Divergent paths in birth delivery care
While other countries are learning from their medical mistakes and taking aggressive steps to monitor delivery care, the U.S. is falling behind. “From 1990 to 2015, the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births in most developed nations has been flat or dropping. In the U.S., the rate has risen sharply.”
An exception to this downward trend is California. There, safety professionals and hospitals have developed practices and policies that are considered the “gold standard” of maternal care. Deaths to expectant mothers in California have dropped by nearly 50%.
Unfortunately, other hospitals have failed to follow California’s lead. According to Dr. Steven Clark, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas and a leading childbirth safety expert, the lack of quality birthing care is “a failure at all levels, at national organization levels and at the local hospital leadership levels as well.”
USA TODAY asserts that the lack of maternal care is partly due to the failure of oversight groups and regulators such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The article claims CMS is doing right by elderly Medicare patients, but not so right with expectant mothers.
To hold healthcare providers liable for birth injuries, you need experienced trial lawyers on your side. At Yeboah Law Group, our birth injury lawyers work with doctors and health professionals to identify medical mistakes during delivery. We represent clients in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and South Florida. To schedule a free appointment please call us at 800-TELL-SAM or complete our contact form.