Prolonged labor puts mothers and their children at risk for injury and birth trauma. In any case, doctors must address it properly to reduce risk as much as possible. Failure to provide an adequate level of medical care may signal medical negligence or malpractice.
Who is at risk for experiencing prolonged labor?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines prolonged labor as the “onset of regular, rhythmical painful contractions accompanied by cervical dilation where labor is longer than 24 hours.” There are variances of this timeframe in relation to the degree of dilation and duration of contractions. This threshold may be shorter if carrying multiple babies (twins, etc.).
The WHO recognizes the inherent risks to mother and child in the event of prolonged labor.
According to the WHO, some of the most common causes of prolonged labor include:
- large baby;
- physical exertion (This may include how and when a mother pushes and is typically guided by the delivering doctor or related medical staff. Weak contractions are another risk factor.);
- breech position; and
- mother’s physical condition (a woman with an unusually small pelvis or any type of obstruction may be unable to deliver a baby vaginally).
A doctor should be able to anticipate reasonably and/or react to any of these situations. For example, sufficient prenatal care may detect a baby’s unusually large size or a mother’s narrow birth canal. At this stage, a doctor may begin exploring alternative birthing options, such as caesarean section. The failure to diagnose risk factors for prolonged labor may indicate medical negligence or malpractice.
Prolonged Labor: Risks for the Child and Mother
Prolonged labor and delivery put both mother and child at risk for injury and trauma. The delivery room staff must take great care to monitor both mother and child during this time, ensuring the baby has sufficient oxygen flow and a healthy heart rate. There are many tools available to assist doctors and nurses with protecting a mother’s and baby’s health. Failure to provide adequate care may signal a doctor’s mistake and liability.
Prolonged labor puts a baby at risk for birth injury and trauma, including:
- abnormal heartbeat;
- insufficient oxygen intake (can lead to brain injury or damage); and
- birth trauma (such as Erb’s palsy, which is caused by a doctor exerting too much force on the baby’s head or neck during delivery).
A doctor must know when it is time to take steps to induce labor or order an emergency c-section. Failure to take action when it is necessary puts mother and child at risk for birth injury and even death.
Did your doctor fail to take action to prevent or treat prolonged labor? The Florida birth injury attorneys at Chalik & Chalik can answer your questions about compensation to address your child’s birth injury: Call us at (855) 529-0269 or fill out our evaluation form.