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Why Can’t We Stop Life-threatening Childbirth Complications?

When new parents expect children, they prepare for every situation imaginable – from babyproofing the house to planning the best route to the hospital. But, how can they prepare for the unimaginable? Not only are many childbirth complications more dangerous and life-threatening than you may think, they are more common as well. What’s worse, they are on the rise.

Severe Maternal Morbidity, Mortality, and Birth Complications

Despite being at the cutting-edge of medical innovation, the United States cannot seem to protect expecting mothers from significant morbidity and mortality. Morbidity generally refers to injury or disease that falls short of causing death, while mortality refers specifically to death. Maternal morbidity and mortality refers to injuries and death that occur during pregnancy or around the time of childbirth. Amazingly, while other countries have done a terrific job of lowering maternal morbidity and mortality, the United States has not. In fact, the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the industrialized world, with 700-900 women dying during pregnancy or childbirth every single year. Beyond the mothers who die, 135+ expecting mothers every day suffer life-threatening complications, amounting to more than 50,000 women every year. Today, maternal organ failure, hemorrhage, and other significant complications occur during 1 in every 100 births.

So, why can’t a country with some of the world’s best medical services stop these pregnancy and childbirth-related injuries? A study conducted by ProPublica and NPR suggested that often medical professionals are either doing too much or too little during childbirth. Some choose to employ a “wait-it-out” method, where they leave potentially life-threatening complications unaddressed in the hopes that the patient will be fine in the end. Doctors reportedly base this highly technical and sophisticated strategy on the knowledge that childbirth/pre-childbirth emergencies are rare. In other words, because most of the time nothing bad happens, they assume that nothing bad will happen to the mother right in front of them. They essentially play the odds. Comforting, isn’t it?

Other doctors do too much, from inducing labor for convenience to performing unnecessary C-sections. The use of induced labor increased more than 100% from 1990 to 2006, often because it allowed patients’ deliveries to work better on their physicians’ schedule. How nice that we can finally make child delivery convenient for our doctors. These unnecessary interventions can have grave consequences, increasing the occurrence of hemorrhages, blood clots, infections, and uterine rupture when delivering future children.

Beyond these horrific consequences, childbirth complications can often produce harm that seems minor and/or temporary, but in reality is much more lasting and severe. Many new mothers, especially those who had pregnancy-induced hypertension or preeclampsia, have reported significant stress and depression after delivery. While these effects may seem insignificant, over 730 women have seen their stress turn into symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These women have nightmares, flashbacks, memory problems, and constant feelings of hopelessness. In fact, around 6% of new moms suffer from PTSD due to childbirth trauma. It is appalling that our doctors cannot seem to prevent expecting mothers from suffering the same fate as soldiers returning home from war.

The Final Childbirth Trauma

Finally, to top off the litany of traumas so many new mothers are put through, many of them cannot find justice. While lawsuits concerning damages to a child are profitable, those concerning damages to a mother can be a little tricky – it is often difficult to find a competent medical malpractice lawyer to take the case, especially when the injury is less obvious. All these severe maternal complications have created billions of dollars in costs for mothers around the country. These new moms and their families need and deserve compensation.

If you have suffered a severe childbirth or maternal injury, we can help.

Here at the Eisen Law Firm, our Ohio medical malpractice attorneys are committed to holding doctors accountable for their failure to protect their patients. If you or a loved one have been a victim of such negligence, call our experienced Cleveland malpractice lawyers today to discuss your options for legal recourse and for obtaining the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call 216-687-0900 or contact us online today.