According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of babies born in the U.S. are delivered via Cesarean section. While the number of C-sections has skyrocketed in recent years, the procedure is still considered major surgery and, many contend, puts both mother and baby at risk. As the result of growing concern over the high C-section rates at many U.S. hospitals, some have taken steps to reduce the number of C-sections performed.
While the number of C-sections has grown considerably in recent years, the procedure has long been standard for expectant mothers whose babies were in a breech or feet first position. Due to the considerable and serious risks associated with a breech vaginal delivery, most medical professionals don’t even consider a natural or vaginal birth.
A couple recently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a hospital that claimed its doctors were able to safely deliver babies in the breech position via a vaginal delivery. The expectant mother had already scheduled a C-section at another hospital, but she and her husband decided to opt for a vaginal delivery after consulting with doctors at the hospital who assured the couple of their success rates.
Additionally, doctors assured the expectant parents they would perform a C-section if either baby or mother was at risk for harm or injury. However, as the delivery progressed and complications developed, doctors continued to encourage the mother to attempt to deliver the baby vaginally. This decision was made by doctors despite the fact that the baby’s heart rate showed signs of distress for roughly 20 minutes.
Upon the baby’s eventual birth, he experienced seizures. He was diagnosed as having suffered a brain injury and was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The boy’s parents recently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit related to their son’s birth injury, contending the hospital and its doctors were negligent in failing to perform a C-section upon the first signs of distress. They are seeking to recover damages in the amount of $25.6 million dollars.
Source: The Oregonian, “OHSU faces $25.6 million malpractice lawsuit over vaginal delivery of breech baby,” Helen Jung, Sep. 24, 2013