Obstetric Emergencies and Conditions – Delivery Room Errors

by Bonner Law | Apr 05, 2021 | Firm News

Labor and delivery can quickly transform from what should be one of the happiest moments of your life into a life-threatening emergency for both mother and baby. However, when Labor and Delivery Nurses or Obstetricians do not follow the standard of care in an emergency situation, their negligence can cause devastating injuries, or even death, to both the mother and baby. Some of the more common delivery room errors include:

Delayed Cesarean Section Delivery: Delay in performing a C-Section is, by far, the leading cause of malpractice-related birth injuries because negligent delay in performing an emergency C-Section is known to cause brain injury to the newborn baby leading to Cerebral Palsy.[1] If your baby is abnormally large, there is abnormal fetal presentation (such as a breech presentation), Placenta Previa, birth canal obstructions, fetal distress, umbilical cord problems including a Nuchal Cord (wrapped around the baby’s neck), a Cord Prolapse (cord coming out before the baby),  premature rupture of the membranes, or placental insufficiency, your Obstetrician should perform an emergency C-Section as soon as possible.[2] A failure to timely do an emergency C-Section can be caused by a failure to properly monitor the mother or infant for signs of distress, or a failure to appreciate the other emergency conditions which may exist.[3] Unfortunately, a delay in performing an emergency C-Section can result in a myriad of injuries including oxygen deprivation, infant brain damage, physical injuries, and developmental delays.[4]

Improper Fetal Monitoring: Labor and Delivery Nurses and Obstetricians should monitor the mother and the baby during pregnancy and during delivery.[5] Monitoring should be done either externally using a fetoscope or internally using brain monitoring technology.[6] Fetal monitoring allows nurses and physicians to monitor the baby’s vitals, like their heartrate.[7] An abnormal fetal heartrate can indicate the baby is not getting enough oxygen and is in fetal distress, at which point an emergency C-Section should be done to avoid birth injuries.[8] However, failure to properly monitor the mother and the baby during pregnancy can cause health care providers to miss the warning signs and unnecessarily delay emergency procedures which can often lead to devastating, life changing injuries to the newborn.

Improper Anesthesia Administration: Administering anesthesia via an epidural is a common form of pain relief for women in labor.[9] However, an overdose of anesthesia, failure to assess the risks and reactions to the medication can cause significant harm to the mother and the baby. An Anesthesiologist should assess the mother’s health and should conform to the acceptable standard of care in administering anesthesia.[10] Failure to properly administer anesthesia can cause fetal distress or worsen existing fetal distress.[11] Anesthesiologists and/or Nurse Anesthetists  should be careful not to administer too much of any subsequent medications after administering anesthesia.[12] Anesthesia practitioners will often administer labor inducing drugs like Pitocin after administering an epidural.[13] Administering too much Pitocin can cause abnormally strong uterine contractions that can prolong labor, cause brain and skull damage, and oxygen deprivation.[14] Finally, anesthesia practitioners should be sure to discuss and consider the anesthetic’s interaction with other medications.[15] Failure to properly assess the mother’s history can cause her to go into repository arrest, lose consciousness, experience seizures, or convulsions.[16]

If you have any questions regarding a potential medical malpractice claim for injuries related to birth, please contact Michael P. Bonner, Esq. at mbonner@bonner-law.com or call us at 305-676-8800 for a free consultation.  Mr. Bonner is an attorney with thirty years of experience handling medical malpractice claims and specifically claims related to birth related injuries.



[1] https://www.birthinjuryhelpcenter.org/c-section-birth-injury.html

[2] Id.

[3] https://www.birthinjuryguide.org/causes/c-section-injuries/

[4] Id.

[5] https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=fetal-monitoring-90-P02448

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] https://www.mycerebralpalsychild.org/causes/anesthesia/

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.