Through modern medicine doctors are not only able to care more for expecting mothers; they are also able to make the process of birthing a much safer procedure. However, like other types of medical procedures, giving birth also has its trade-offs which present risks about which many mothers are never made aware of.
Ensuring that a baby born is healthy does not just happen in the delivery room. This includes the months when the baby is still inside the mother’s womb, the time when a doctor has to regularly and accurately monitor the baby’s health and condition, mainly by making sure that the mother herself is in good health and that, at the time of delivery, everything is performed in a way that will not cause any injury to the baby. Doctors, of course, observe medical standards of care in protecting the unborn and the mother; failure to do so can result to pregnancy complications and birth injuries.
Record of live births from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show at least 3,900,000 births in the US every year. Mortality rate, on the other hand, is more than 23,000 annually. Besides the high mortality rate in infant death, another major concern of government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), is the number of babies (and mothers) sustaining injuries during childbirth. In 2006, close to 157,700 mothers and newborns were reported to have sustained injuries during childbirth. Birth injury incidences are highest among 25 to 34 years old mothers who undergo tool-assisted deliveries. Of the many different kinds of birth injuries, Ravid & Assoc says that the most commonly reported are:
- Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI). This injury, which can cause temporary or permanent disability, damages the bundle of nerves that runs from the upper spine to the hand.
- Bone Fracture. This injury, which usually heals on its own, affects the collar bone or the clavicle. It results from a difficult or complicated delivery.
- Cephalohematoma. This involves the collection of blood underneath the skin, particularly, in the periosteum of the skull bone.
- Caput Succedaneum. This injury is characterized by the swelling of the scalp. It is the result of using too much pressure during delivery. This injury, though, is not life-threatening and usually heals on its own.
- Cerebral Palsy. This injury causes damage to the brain, resulting to impaired muscle coordination. Babies who sustain this injury is affected by it for the rest of their lives as there is no known cure for this type of birth
The saddest thing about birth injuries, also called birth trauma, is the fact that these are nothing more than consequences of negligence. Had proper care been observed, these injuries would have been totally prevented. As a result, thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed in the past, while hundreds more are filed every year, all citing negligence as the cause birth injuries.
It is because of negligence why, according to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier SC ®, many medical professionals fail to provide the standard of care they owe their patients. Due to this failure, they can be held totally accountable whenever their errors result to injuries.
In its website, the law firm Schuler Halvorson Weisser Zoeller & Overbeck P.A., likewise mentions the unfortunate reality of medical professionals not always living up to the standards of their profession. Due to the important roles that they play, however, it is high time that they fully realize the devastating effects which even the smallest mistake can have on their patients and that though they may never have intended to cause any injury, full accountability still rests on their shoulders.