When Does a Difficult Labor and Delivery Become Medical Malpractice? - Dante Law Firm, P.A.
Did you experience a difficult labor and delivery? How much of it was nature, and what was the hospital's fault? Keep reading to learn more.
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Medical Malpractice - Dante Law Firm

When Does a Difficult Labor and Delivery Become Medical Malpractice?

The U.S is a dangerous place to give birth.

In fact, maternal death rates are the highest in the U.S. among developed nations.

Why are so many mothers and infants at risk during childbirth in our country? Hospitals and doctors aren’t doing enough. Medical malpractice is to blame for many of these injuries and deaths.

If you or your baby have experienced a birth-related injury during a difficult labor and delivery, you might have grounds to sue.

Keep reading to learn more about preventable childbirth injuries and how to determine whether your doctor was negligent. 

Delivery Related Injuries

In some cases, delivery injuries are unavoidable given the circumstances. But, in other cases, the course of treatment chosen by your doctor may be to blame.

If your doctor fails to properly care for you before or during childbirth, you or your baby may become injured. Let’s take a look at some of the childbirth injuries that can often be prevented. 

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This injury causes the small blood vessels in the eye to rupture. It can be caused by pressure on the baby during delivery.


Fractures during birth are sometimes unavoidable but often they are preventable. If your doctor failed to spot likely complications and order a C-section, they may be at fault. 

Caupt Succedaneum

This condition results in the swelling of the baby’s scalp, usually from pressure during a difficult labor and delivery. It can also occur during a vacuum extraction.

Erb’s Palsy

This is an injury to the nerves in a baby’s neck and shoulder when they are stretched too far during delivery. There are varying degrees of severity and medical intervention including physical therapy and surgery may be required.


This is another type of injury that can happen during a vacuum extraction. When this occurs, blood collects between the baby’s skin and cranial bone. 

Difficult Labor and Delivery: Can You Take Legal Action?

If you experienced difficult labor and delivery and a birth injury, it’s possible that your doctor did something wrong. Perhaps he did something to cause the injury or failed to do something that could have prevented it.

Your doctor’s conduct could constitute medical malpractice. However, with birth injuries, things aren’t always so simple. The fact that you or your baby has a birth-related injury isn’t sufficient evidence that your doctor did something wrong or committed medical malpractice.

Let’s take a look at what exactly constitutes medical malpractice. 

Determining Negligence

With any kind of malpractice, the first step is establishing the level of care expected under the circumstances. This is determined by taking into account what degree of care the average doctor in the same specialty would provide as well as the skill level and medical knowledge they should have.

In legal terms, this is called the Medical Standard of Care. Once you’ve established the standard of care a doctor with similar skills would have provided and what they would have done in similar circumstances, you can show how that standard was breached.

What did your doctor do wrong that any other doctor would have done right?

What did your doctor do – or not do – that lead to a birth-related injury?

Doctors are sometimes required to make quick decisions during a difficult labor and delivery, especially if the health of the mother or baby is at risk. In a situation that calls for drastic measures to save one or both lives, a birth injury may be considered a practical or necessary risk.

On the other hand, if your labor and delivery are normal and there are no complications, your doctor may have been negligent if your baby ends up with a physical injury. 

Negligence in Inaction 

Your doctor can also be negligent if they fail to act when they should have.

For example, if a quick response was needed to an emergency situation and your doctor didn’t do what they should have, you may have a medical negligence case. If any injuries occurred from your doctor’s inaction, they will be legally responsible.

This situation often occurs when a baby’s life is threatened in the womb due to lack of oxygen and the doctor fails to begin a C-section in time. If the baby experiences brain damage from the lack of oxygen, the doctor could be guilty of medical malpractice and held liable. 

What if the Baby Dies?

Childbirth injuries that result in the death of the baby may also be caused by medical malpractice.

Negligence is determining in the same manner described above. If your doctor failed to provide the standard of care that any other reasonable doctor with the same skills and knowledge would have, they may be at fault for your child’s death.

This type of case is usually a wrongful death lawsuit. These claims can be especially complicated.

There are two types of cases:

  • The baby dies before or during childbirth because the mother also died
  • The mother survives but the baby is injured leading to its death in utero or during delivery

With these types of cases, there is a question of whether a claim can be made for the wrongful death of the baby that is separate from any claim for the mother. These cases can be medically and legally complex. It’s important to have an experienced medical malpractice attorney on your side to help you understand your options. 

If Your or Your Baby Were Injured During Childbirth – You Need a Lawyer

If you experienced difficult labor and delivery that resulted in injury to you or your baby, you may be entitled to compensation.

Medical malpractice cases are too complicated to be taken on alone. Your lawyer understands the complex emotions involved in these types of cases. 

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