Nine months is a long time. Without exaggerating the dangers, a lot can go wrong. Under the regular care of a qualified and diligent physician, pregnant women can avoid most serious complications; however, mistakes can and do happen, resulting in lasting harm for some.
If your baby is suffering from the effects of prenatal care negligence, The Becker Law Firm is a strong advocate for your rights. We can take the time to address your suspicions that the actions, advice, or oversight of medical professionals led to a birth injury or the death of your baby.
Call The Becker Law Firm today at (440) 252-4399 for a free initial consultation with our prenatal care negligence attorneys in Cleveland, Ohio.
Risk Management & Early Pregnancy Care
Your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), midwife, or family practice doctor is responsible for identifying possible medical complications through routine screenings for risk factors.
Women identified as "high risk" (e.g., advanced maternal age, gestational diabetes, hypertension, multiple gestation, and previous premature births) may be referred to a maternal/fetal specialist, genetic counselor, or neonatologist for additional work-up. Women planning a vaginal birth after a previous cesarean (VBAC) are at particular risk of uterine rupture.
Competent prenatal care during the first and second trimesters typically includes:
- Screens for genetic birth defects
- Carefully conducted pelvic exams
- Sonograms (ultrasound) to ensure that the embryo is properly implanted and to detect heart defects or other issues that must be addressed in utero or after birth
- Urine tests to detect abnormal levels of hormones, proteins, or bacteria
- Prompt investigation of spotting or cramping, excessive water retention or high blood pressure, unusual weight loss or weight gain, and discrepancy between fundal height and gestational age
When investigating obstetric malpractice, one might ask: What are the doctor’s qualifications? How many babies have they delivered? Did they identify your pregnancy as high risk, or recognize that your symptoms require immediate attention? Did the caregiver receive, review, and properly interpret lab tests? Did they discuss VBAC? How did the doctor/clinic nurses respond when you reported problems?
Later Stages of Pregnancy
While a fetus may be medically viable near the end of the second trimester, premature birth should be avoided unless immediately necessary to save the baby or prevent harm to the mother. As pregnancy progresses, the doctor should be vigilant for abruption (separation) of the placenta, incompetent cervix (which can be sewn shut), preterm labor, and any evidence of preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM). A non-stress test (NST) and regular ultrasounds should be performed to verify that the baby is healthy (or to recognize and treat fetal distress).
Several dangers that arise in the third trimester include:
- Group B strep infection (treated with antibiotics if discovered)
- Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension (treatable if diagnosed)
- Gestational diabetes (treated through diet, exercise and weight loss)
If there was a birth injury, we may look into: What tests were performed in the third trimester? Were arrangements made for preterm induction or C-section? Were you ordered to bed rest? Did the doctor check the cervix, water sac, and uterus? Did they take steps to avoid preterm labor? Did they give the steroids to your premature baby before preterm birth?
A note for expecting parents: The information presented here is intended to raise awareness of possible complications of pregnancy or negligence in your prenatal care. It is not a substitute for proper medical advice or medical advice, but we hope that it helps you ask the right questions and remain vigilant as your baby grows.