Pennsylvania Birth Injury Attorneys
When it is determined that a woman in labor needs an emergency C-section, time for her and her baby is of the essence. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sets a standard of 30 minutes from decision-to-incision — with some situations requiring faster execution than 30 minutes, such as cases of placental abruption, uterine rupture, placenta previa and umbilical cord prolapse. If the fetus is not getting enough oxygen, studies have shown that a decision-to-incision time of 10–18 minutes runs the least risk of resulting in birth injuries like hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
While legal action is often the furthest thing from the mind of the parent of a child in pain, both New Jersey and Pennsylvania law state that birth injury cases must be filed within two years from the date of injury — other states set their statutes of limitations as short as one year for such cases. Hiring an experienced attorney from a firm such as McEldrew Purtell will help parents in such situations dedicate the whole of their attention to what’s most important while ensuring that they are protected from the financial consequences of such an event.
Why Do Delayed C-Sections Happen?
C-sections can be scheduled for a number of reasons, such as a pre-existing health condition or contagious infection in the mother or a medical condition or breach positioning in the fetus. This is a normal medical procedure that can be determined well in advance.
An emergency C-section is unplanned, and usually occurs because either the mother or fetus is in distress. Causes can include:
- Prolonged labor
- Uterine rupture
- Fetal heart rate becomes uneven
- Baby’s oxygen flow is interrupted (fetal hypoxia)
- Placenta detaches from the uterus (placental abruption)
- Placenta covers the cervix (placenta previa)
- Umbilical cord issues
The Doctor Errors that May Lead to a Delayed C-Section
It is a doctor’s duty to monitor both mother and child during birth, keeping an eye on conditions that may require an emergency C-section. Unfortunately, there are scenarios where this important medical standard is compromised, due to:
- A lack of proper monitoring of maternal and fetal health
- A failure to see the signs that mother or baby are in distress
- The hospital is understaffed
- Insurance concerns delay the procedure’s ordering
The Dangers of Delayed C-Sections
If the decision-to-incision time for an emergency C-section takes longer than 30 minutes — less in some cases — or if doctors prolong labor for longer than is necessary, the baby may suffer an irreversible injury. In the worst cases, such delays can result in death for the mother, child or both.
Some of the other resulting injuries include:
- Brachial plexus injuries like Erb’s palsy
- Brain damage injuries like cerebral palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
How to Know if Medical Negligence is Responsible for Your Infant’s Injury
To prove medical negligence, it must be clearly established that a birth injury was the result of a breach of care on the part of the attending physician. For delayed C-sections, this could be reflected in a lack of attention given to the need for ordering an emergency C-section or an issue in its execution which caused a delay.
Most often, establishing medical negligence requires the testimony of an expert medical witness, able to verify that the defendants’ conduct fell short of the accepted medical standard, and that this lapse in care was responsible for an injury in the infant.
When to Consult with an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney
Any time a child is born with an injury — especially when there are signs of negligence like a delay in ordering a needed C-section — the best course of action is to consult with an expert law firm like McEldrew Purtell as soon as possible. With 30 years of experience in cases of birth trauma, McEldrew Purtell is well-suited to evaluate the situation and help determine if the injury suffered involved acts of medical negligence or professional malpractice. All birth injury claims are handled on a contingency basis.
To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at (215) 545-8800.