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Medical Errors During Childbirth

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The birth of a child is a momentous moment in parents’ lives, but childbirth is also a time of significant medical risk. A mother and baby are vulnerable during childbirth and rely on the medical practitioners assisting them to keep them safe from harm. Maternal and infant mortality rates have improved enormously in recent times, but things can still go wrong, with devastating effects for a family.

Many incidents of injury or death during childbirth occur because of unavoidable events. However, sometimes injury, either to the mother or the baby, is caused by medical error. Some examples of medical errors during childbirth are:

  • failure to perform a caesarean section when one is indicated;
  • failure to effectively monitor fetal heart rate or respond to fetal distress;
  • failure to properly regulate oxytocin levels resulting in fetal distress;
  • using delivery aids inappropriately resulting in damage to the baby’s skull or neck;
  • causing damage to or failure to diagnose and repair damage to the mother’s uterus or bowel;
  • failure to ensure removal of all of the placenta following birth, resulting in haemorrhage.

Failure to respond to fetal distress can result in insufficient levels of oxygen going to the baby, which can lead to brain damage, known as cerebral palsy.

Can I claim?

Errors during childbirth do not always amount to medical negligence. To do so, it must be shown that

  • in making the error, the medical practitioner did not exercise the reasonable skill, care or expertise to be expected of a medical practitioner of his or her position. Even if this is the case, it must also be shown that
  • the error caused material harm either to the mother or the baby. Sometimes, a medical error during childbirth does not materially change the medical outcome for a patient. In such a case, compensation would not be payable.

Get advice

Medical negligence is a particularly complex area of law and any potential claim must be investigated thoroughly.

If you or your child have been injured or suffered damage as a result of a medical error during childbirth and you think that you have a medical negligence claim, submit the contact us form or call us on 1800 555 777.