On August 5, 2016, an Alabama medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of a woman who had undergone natural childbirth at the defendant hospital but suffered serious injuries during labor and delivery. The Alabama medical malpractice jury took about ten hours to deliberate after a two-week trial before awarding the plaintiff $10 million in compensatory damages for her neurological injury suffered during childbirth, $1 million for her husband’s loss of consortium claim, and $5 million in punitive damages against the defendant hospital for alleged fraud involving the defendant hospital’s advertising and marketing campaign that allegedly misrepresented its natural birth options.
The plaintiff had already given birth to three of her children at the defendant hospital when she saw a television commercial regarding the defendant hospital’s natural childbirth program while she was pregnant with her fourth child in 2012. The defendant hospital promoted its natural childbirth program that offered water births, emphasized the mother’s freedom of movement during labor and delivery, and promised her participation in choices made during delivery. Relying on such representations, and after researching the defendant hospital’s natural childbirth program, the plaintiff elected to deliver her fourth child by natural delivery at the defendant hospital.
The plaintiff’s Alabama medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that her natural childbirth experience at the defendant hospital was a nightmare: her freedom of movement during delivery was severely restricted (she was restrained during a portion of the delivery) and a nurse held her child’s head in place before delivery in order to delay the delivery for six minutes until the doctor arrived. Instead of being allowed to participate in decisions during delivery, the plaintiff alleged that it was either the nurse’s way or no way.
Fortunately, the baby did not suffer injury during labor and delivery. Unfortunately, the plaintiff suffered pudendal neuralgia as a result of the delivery: the plaintiff suffered injury to her pudendal nerve during child birth which has resulted in her suffering chronic debilitating pelvic pain for which she spends hours every day soaking in tubs and for which she has endured nerve blocks and takes medication.
The pudendal nerve is in the pelvis near the tailbone. It is the largest division of the pudendal plexus and extends from the sacral plexus through the pudendal canal, the perineum, and the gluteal area.
Pudendal neuralgia is a painful condition caused by inflammation, compression, or entrapment of the pudendal nerve that may be related to childbirth, pelvic surgery, intense cycling, sacroiliac skeletal abnormalities, or age-related changes. Symptoms of pudenal neuralgia include pelvic pain with sitting which increases throughout the day and decreases with standing or lying down, sexual dysfunction, and difficulty with urination and/or defecation. Pudendal neuralgia may cause both bladder and anal incontinence, chronic constipation, rectal pain, and sexual dysfunction. Diagnosis criteria are pain situated in the anatomical territory of the pudendal nerve, worsened by sitting; the patient is not woken at night by the pain; no objective sensory loss is detected on clinical examination; and, a positive pudendal nerve block. Treatment options for pudenal neuralgia include behavioral modifications, physiotherapy, analgesics and nerve block, surgical pudendal nerve decompression, radiofrequency, and spinal cord stimulation.
If you or your baby suffered serious harm during labor and delivery in Alabama or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a birth injury lawyer in Alabama or in your state who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury case, if appropriate.
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