A recent study by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found a 75% increase in emergencies during childbirth between 1998 and 2009, and that severe complications for women more than doubled in the days immediately following delivery during the same time period. There was found to be an increase in heart attacks, incidents of severe bleeding, strokes, and kidney failures during or following childbirth. The study found that mothers suffering from shock following childbirth increased by 100.7%; acute renal failure increased by 97.3%; mothers suffering a heart attack increased by 79.4%; the incidence of thrombotic embolism rose by 71.8%; and, the need for an emergency hysterectomy increased by 23.7%. (Notably, anesthesia complications during childbirth decreased by 61.3% during the same period of time.)
The study also found that post-delivery hospital stays increased by 114% over the decade ending in 2009. Severe complications during or immediately following childbirth involve approximately 52,000 women per year. The most common cause of death after delivery is severe bleeding.
There may be many reasons for the large increase in childbirth complications including the increasing age of women when they become pregnant, the increasing obesity of women when they become pregnant, chronic medical conditions of pregnant women such as kidney disease and diabetes, and an almost 60% increase in the rate of Cesarean section deliveries since 1996. And women who survived serious medical conditions when they were young are increasingly giving birth to their own children.
The cost of childbirth complications is enormous: obstetrics-related complications account for $17.4 billion in hospital costs each year in the United States and obstetrics represents over 25% of the medical malpractice payouts by hospitals in the United States each year.
Hospitals and public health officials are responding to the large increase in childbirth complications by focusing safety efforts on preventing harms suffered by pregnant and delivering women. The CDC has joined the efforts by funding programs to establish guidelines and protocols for improving obstetrical safety and preventing injuries to both the mothers and their newborns. Hospitals are now routinely holding exercises and drills to train their medical staff to rapidly respond to childbirth complications.
While the large increase in childbirth complications is disturbing, severe complications during childbirth remain rare. Of the estimated 4 million childbirths in the United States every year, the study found approximately 590,000 total cases of severe complications over the 11-year period studied.
While not all complications encountered during childbirth are preventable or are the result of medical negligence, there are occasions when acts or omissions during childbirth cause injuries or death to the newborn and/or the mother that are considered to be medical malpractice. If you, your child, or a loved one may be the victim of medical malpractice that occurred during childbirth, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a local medical malpractice attorney who may agree to investigate the matter for you and file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may able to help you with your medical malpractice claim or call us on our toll-free line: 800-295-3959.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.