Expecting mothers have a lot on their plates, so they rely on their OB/GYN, midwives and nurses to help keep them safe from risks. One of those risks is uterine rupture, which occurs when the walls of the uterus tear. It usually occurs at the incision site of a previous C-section, so mothers who wish to deliver their additional children naturally must be on the lookout.
Uterine tears are not necessarily caused by medical negligence in and of themselves – but failing to warn a pregnant woman about her chances of sustaining the injury, and failing to adhere to a proper monitoring schedule, certainly are. Without the right care, a mother and her child can be at serious risk of injury.
Understanding the causes of uterine ruptures
Most women who suffer a uterine tear have had some kind of surgical procedure, with C-sections being the most common. However, if you have had fibroids removed, or had any kind of surgery on your uterus, you could be at increased risk. You might also experience a rupture if you sustained injuries in a car accident, or had to undergo an external cephalic version because your baby was in the breech position, or if the doctor made an error while using forceps in your previous delivery.
In some rare cases, a woman who has never had any procedures may also sustain a rupture. Women who have had multiple pregnancies or are carrying multiple babies, or whose labor has been prolonged, may also be injured.
Determining an act of obstetrical malpractice
As we said earlier, the rupture itself is not usually the result of negligence (though failure to perform a C-section may be), but that does not mean that your doctor is not liable if you sustain an injury. Although there are other signs that may alert doctors and nurses to the possibility of a uterine rupture, they are not present in all cases, therefore, the most important sign is an abnormality in your baby’s heart rate indicating fetal distress. Other signs may include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Labor progress stops
- Rapid pulse
- Symptoms of shock
If you have undergone a C-section but are now attempting a vaginal birth, your OB/GYN and his or her team must constantly monitor the fetal heart rate. Failure to do so may lead to a delay in diagnosis.
Furthermore, it is your doctor’s duty to inform you of the risks of giving birth naturally after you have had a C-section, especially because the increase risk of a rupture. Failure to diagnose a rupture can lead to
- Severe blood loss and shock for the mother
- Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) if the uterus cannot be repaired
- Lack of oxygen and blood supply for the baby
A uterine rupture is a life-threatening situation for both the mother and her baby. The only treatment is immediate C-section in order to save the lives of mom and baby.
The labor and delivery process can be complicated enough without the risk of additional injuries. A delay in diagnosis, a failure to monitor or inform, or the delay of a C-section can lead to permanent injuries – to you or your baby. At Crandall & Pera Law, we protect the rights of families whose doctors have failed to live up to their duty of care. To speak with an experienced birth injury attorney in Kentucky or Ohio, please call 877.651.7764 (Kentucky), 877.686.8879 (Ohio), or use our contact form.