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World Health Organization Reports on Risks of Unnecessary C-Sections


While recent statistics show that roughly one third of all deliveries are by cesarean section (C-section), the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to report that C-section births are only medically necessary in about ten percent of childbirths. The WHO defines “medically necessary” as situations where:

  • The baby is distressed,
  • The baby is in an abnormal position, or
  • Labor is prolonged.

In order to warrant a C-section, the circumstances must pose a risk to the mother or the baby if the birth were to proceed through vaginal delivery.

C-Sections Save Lives

When medically necessary, C-sections save lives. This is virtually undisputed. In fact, the Director of WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research has stated that the evidence regarding medically-necessary C-section rates, “highlight[s] the value of caesarean section in saving the lives of mothers and newborns.” In emergency circumstances, a C-section may be the only way to ensure that the mother and child survive the delivery without permanent disabilities or injuries.

However, when not medically necessary, C-sections can put both mother and baby at increased risk for significant complications. As a result, WHO advocates strongly for restricting C-section births to only those situations where the risks of vaginal birth outweigh the risks of this surgical procedure. The risks associated with C-sections include:

For the Baby

  • Heightened risk of transient tachypnea, respiratory distress syndrome, and other breathing problems
  • Surgical injuries

For the Mother

  • Blood clots, which can lead to pulmonary embolism
  • Increased bleeding
  • Infections and inflammation
  • Increased risks during future pregnancies, including uterine rupture
  • Surgical injuries

Many of these complications can lead to long-term disabilities, and in the worst of circumstances can be fatal.

Why do Doctors Perform C-Sections that Are Not Medically Necessary?

If the risks are so great, why do doctors perform C-sections that are not medically necessary? One of the most common explanations is that doctors view ordering a C-section as the safest option when it comes to malpractice liability. While unnecessary C-sections can actually put patients at increased risk for the complications listed above, the general consensus is that a doctor is much more likely to get sued for failing to order a C-section than for ordering one unnecessarily.

Other commonly-cited reasons include the increased costs associated with performing a C-section, desire to open up a bed for another patient, and misdiagnosis of risks during labor.

Unnecessary C-Sections, C-Section Errors, and Medical Malpractice

When a doctor orders an unnecessary C-section that leads to complications for the mother or child – or when a physician makes mistakes during the C-section procedure – the doctor can be held liable for medical malpractice. The attorneys at the Becker Law Firm regularly represent clients who have suffered lasting injuries and lost loved ones due to C-section errors. If you recently gave birth through C-section and have questions about your procedure, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation.

Contact The Becker Law Firm

C-section errors can lead to a lifetime of medical bills, emotional trauma, physical limitations, and other consequences. To learn more about the remedies available for C-section errors in Ohio, contact The Becker Law Firm at (440) 252-4399 today.

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