What a Botched C-Section Is & Medical Malpractice
Learn from birth injury lawyer Heidi Villari about what a botched C-section is, what you can do about it, and whether it counts as medical malpractice.
If you believe your C-section was botched and you or your baby suffered an injury, call us to discuss your situation. We can determine if you are entitled to compensation for injuries caused by medical malpractice.
What a C-Section Is
A Caesarean-section, commonly referred to as a “C-section,” is an alternative to vaginal birth used when vaginal birth is not possible for some reason, or if vaginal birth is not progressing quickly enough to prevent distress and harm to the mother or the baby.
A C-section is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and the uterus.
There are circumstances under which a C-section is safer for mother or baby or both than a vaginal delivery.
- Stalled labor, cervix not opening enough to give birth.
- The baby’s heart rate changes or there are other signs the baby is in distress.
- The baby is in an abnormal position, such as breech or transverse.
- It is a multiple birth.
- The placenta is covering the opening of the cervix
- The umbilical cord is prolapsed (born before the baby).
- The mother has a medical condition such as a heart condition.
- The mother has an active genital herpes infection.
- There is a mechanical obstruction to the birth canal, such as a fibroid or a severely displaced pelvic fracture.
- The baby’s head is unusually large and cannot fit through the birth canal.
- The mother has had a C-section previously.
Some mothers request C-sections for nonemergency and non-medical reasons, such as wanting to avoid the discomfort of childbirth, or wanting to know and plan for the exact timing of delivery of the baby.
Botched C-Sections Explained
Like any other type of surgery, there are several things that can go wrong in a C-section that can cause problems for the mother or the baby, or both.
Complications of Botched C-Sections
Risks to a baby include the risk that the baby may suffer surgical injury during the CV-section, such as a cut or nick/
Risks to a mother having a C-section include the following possibilities:
- Infection of the uterus (endometritis).
- Postpartum hemorrhage.
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia.
- Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis traveling to lungs, causing pulmonary embolism)
- Infection of the wound site.
- Injury to the bladder or bowels during the procedure.
- Complications in future pregnancies, such as placenta accreta or uterine rupture).
A “botched” C-section may result in one or more of these problems, if the doctor performing the C-section did not adhere to the applicable standard of care.
Babies do best if they are not delivered before full-term, which is 39 weeks. In the last two weeks of gestation, the baby’s lungs and brain are still developing and the baby is gaining the fat it needs to regulate its internal temperature once it is born.
Babies delivered by C-section before 39 weeks are at greater risk for having problems breathing and feeding, having severe jaundice, and needing intensive care after birth. These babies also have a higher chance of having cerebral palsy, a condition that can affect movement, hearing, seeing, thinking, and learning. Last, the risk of infant mortality is greater than for those babies delivered at 39 weeks.
A mother who carries their baby at least 39 weeks is less at risk of suffering postpartum depression.
When You Can Sue for a Botched C-Section
Whatever problem or injury you or your baby suffered from the C-section, in order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit that problem or injury must be the result of an action or lack of action on a healthcare provider’s part that is a deviation from the applicable standard of care.
Common Causes of Botched C-Sections
By far, the most common cause of a botched C-section is the failure to perform a C-section in a timely manner, injuring the mother or the baby or both. Medical professionals must closely monitor a mother giving birth for any of the many problems that might arise and warrant a C-section, including:
- Drop in fetal heart rate or other sign of fetal distress
- Mother in distress
- Mother has eclampsia or pree-eclampsia
- Labor is not progressing after many hours in labor
- The umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the baby’s neck
- The umbilical cord is being delivered first
- The baby or the baby’s head is too large for vaginal delivery
- The placenta covers the cervix
The usual standard of care is to perform a C-section within 30 minutes of discovering or identifying any of these problems. If a healthcare provider waits too long to decide, get permission, and perform a C-section, the baby may be seriously harmed and suffer conditions such as:
- Brain damage
- Nerve damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial palsy
- Intellectual disabilities
- Developmental disabilities
If the healthcare provider decides with the mother that an emergency has arisen warranting a C-section, during the procedure they must monitor closely for:
- Complications from anesthesia causing a lack of oxygen to mother or baby
- Mother and baby’s heart rate
- Surgical injuries to the fetus such as nicks or cuts
- Surgical injuries to the mother such as cuts to bowels, uterus, or bladder
Can I Sue if I Didn’t Want a Caesarean?
Perhaps. Most commonly, doctors perform C-sections in emergency situations to prevent imminent harm to the mother or the baby. If your doctor had a medically sound reason to perform a C-section and you were not able to give consent, you may not have grounds to sue.
Suing If You Didn’t Want a C-Section
Ideally, while in labor you will be in a condition to understand the risks and give informed consent to a C-section. However, if you were able to give consent and the doctor failed to get your consent, the doctor downplays the risks of a C-section, the doctor performs a C-section in order to charge more for the delivery, or the doctor in any other way commits fraud, you can sue that doctor. In these cases, the doctor may also face criminal charges.
Talk with a medical malpractice lawyer to help if you didn’t want a C-section.
Proving a Botched C-Section as Medical Malpractice
The doctor performing the C-section must have deviated from the applicable standard of care, causing you or your baby injury, in order for you to sue successfully for medical malpractice.
A birth injury lawyer performs extensive discovery to determine what the applicable standard of care is. They also look into how the doctor deviated from it, as well as the nature and extent of the injuries the doctor caused. This will include investigating all records of the C-section as well as interviewing witnesses, which will be the other medical professionals in the room. You will also need an expert medical witness to testify that the doctor committed malpractice.
Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer About Your Botched C-Section
If you or your baby were injured as a result of a botched C-section, call our birth injury lawyers. We have the experience to determine whether your injury was a result of medical malpractice and whether you are entitled to compensation. Let us help your family get the compensation you deserve.