The moments following a baby’s delivery should be a time of joy and a source of happy memories for a family. But when doctors or staff fail to take appropriate measures to safeguard the mother’s health, the occasion can become catastrophic and even deadly.
What is Postpartum Hemorrhage?
If the uterus is unable to contract after childbirth or if there was trauma to the birth canal, the mother can suffer postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), which is defined as the loss more than 500 mL of blood during vaginal delivery or 1,000 mL after a C-section.
In most cases, PPH takes place immediately after delivery. If the bleeding is not identified and safely controlled, it can lead to a range of devastating outcomes including the inability to bear additional children, permanent brain damage, or even death.
All medical providers involved with the delivery and post-delivery monitoring owe mothers and their children a duty of reasonable care. This includes not just physicians, but also labor and delivery nurses whose job it is to monitor the mother and keep the doctors informed of changes to the mother’s condition.
Certain patients are at increased risk of excessive bleeding after childbirth, including those whose deliveries involved:
- Retained placenta;
- Induced deliveries;
- Larger-than-average baby.
However, the American Academy of Family Physicians points out that 20% of PPH occurs in women with no risk factors at all. In other words, doctors and their staff should be prepared to timely recognize and treat postpartum hemorrhage with every mother at every delivery.
Doctors and their staff owe a duty to their patients to monitor for symptoms of PPH. These symptoms include changes to the mother’s blood pressure or skin color, increased heart rate, dizziness upon standing as well as a number of factors to do with the condition of her uterus.
When PPH does occur, doctors must quickly diagnose and treat the cause of the bleeding. A lapse in judgment or delayed response can be fatal.
A Uniquely-American Problem?
A recent investigation by NPR and ProPublica showed that American women are more likely than women in any other developed country to die from complications from childbirth. While other countries’ maternal death rates have fallen since 2000, U.S. rates have risen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11% of these pregnancy-related deaths were caused by PPH.
To make matters worse, a 2018 report from nine maternal mortality review committees estimated that over 60% of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable.
How We Can Help
We understand that negligence in failing to timely diagnose and treat postpartum hemorrhage, as well as other preventable birth injuries, can lead to a lifetime of anguish for a family. If you’ve lost a loved one due to negligent management of PPH, it’s critical to talk with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Our attorneys are experienced in handling claims for wrongful death following PPH. We have the knowledge, experience, and compassion to ensure that you and your family receive justice for the preventable errors that occurred.
For a Free Consultation with one of Passen & Powell’s top-rated medical negligence lawyers, call us at 312-527-4500.