OB-GYN Negligence

Obstetric and gynecologic malpractice encompass a broad spectrum of medical negligence including failure to obtain a proper informed consent, failure to diagnose, failure to treat, sub-standard performance of a procedure or improper technique.  Such examples include:

  • Infertility secondary to doctor caused infection or injury
  • Injury to internal organs
  • Failure to respond appropriately to hemorrhage
  • Unnecessary procedures
  • Delay/failure in diagnosis and/or treatment of cervical or uterine cancer
  • Delay in diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy
  • Fetal birth injury caused by a doctor
  • Delay/failure to diagnose and treat maternal or fetal infection, anoxia (lack of oxygen)
  • Failure to perform C-section in a timely manner
  • Sub-standard delivery techniques
  • Failure to properly manage umbilical cord complications
  • Administrating the wrong medication and/or dose of medication
  • Failure to recognize and respond to signs of fetal distress
  • Failure to diagnose and treat maternal hypertension and/or eclampsia


Obstetrical Malpractice

Obstetrics is perhaps the most litigious specialty in medicine.   One of the most common reasons for obstetrical lawsuit is birth injury.  Many babies have minor injuries that occur from transit through or expulsion from the birth canal, and the vast majority of these injuries resolve without treatment.  Some of the more common causes for birth injury include fetal malpresentation, a fetus being of disproportionate size to the maternal birth canal and abnormal lie of the fetus.  The following are some of the more serious birth injuries encountered in obstetrics.  The presence of one of these injuries does not necessarily imply medical malpractice or negligence.

  • Intracranial hemorrhage - occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures.  This is more common in premature neonates as the vessels are more fragile and susceptible to tearing.  Newborns with intracranial hemorrhage may appear lethargic, do not feed well, or have seizures.
  • Nerve injury - most commonly occurs during delivery of a large infant, shoulder dystocia, or instrumented delivery.  During delivery of a large infant, or a shoulder dystocia, nerves of the brachial plexus may be stretched causing weakness or paralysis of the infant’s arm or hand.  In most cases the nerve heals over several weeks.  In severe cases, surgery may be performed to reattach torn nerves or complete function may not be restored.  Facial nerve injury may occur from the fetus lying against the maternal pelvic bones for an extended period of time, or by forceps assisted delivery.  There is no treatment for this condition, but it usually resolves by 2-3 months of age.
  • Asphyxia - occurs when there is inadequate oxygenation of brain tissue resulting in cell death.  This may occur from infection, drug exposure, fetal abnormalities, or inadequate blood flow to the fetus due to placental problems, continued compression of the umbilical cord, tearing of the cord, or a clot in the one of the vessels of the umbilical cord.  Outcomes can range from a completely normal neonate to permanent neurologic damage (learning disorders, delayed development, cerebral palsy), and even death.

In addition to birth injuries, other areas of obstetrical malpractice may include:

  • Failure or delay in diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy which may result in surgery to remove the pregnancy, rupture of the fallopian tube, corneal portion of the uterus, loss of a fallopian tube, ovary, uterus, and/or internal hemorrhage.
  • Delay in diagnosis of pregnancy which may result in unwanted birth.
  • Failure of sterilization which may result in an unplanned  pregnancy or abortion.
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