The Effects of Prolonged Labor

One potential risk of childbirth is prolonged labor, which occurs when the mother remains in labor beyond the standard period of time. This condition can carry a higher risk for birth injuries, and it’s vital that doctors monitor cases of prolonged labor and respond appropriately to minimize or avoid risk of injury.

Prolonged Labor Overview

It can be difficult to say when a woman is in prolonged labor. For the first baby, labor may last between 12 and 18 hours. Some experts define prolonged labor at over 20 hours, while others say it can be between 18 and 24 hours.

Prolonged labor can be caused by a variety of factors:

  • baby size;
  • abnormal positioning;
  • birth canal size;
  • weak contractions;
  • placental abruption;
  • low blood pressure; and
  • trauma. 

When a doctor notices signs of prolonged labor, he or she may:

  • perform a cesarean section;
  • administer certain medications to speed contractions; or
  • use forceps or a vacuum to deliver the baby (if the child is already in the birth canal). 

Usually, during prolonged labor, the baby has difficulty receiving oxygen from the mother. A lack of oxygen is a contributor to many serious birth injuries and defects including cerebral palsy. Serious physical and mental injuries and developmental issues can result from a lack of oxygen during delivery.

Proving Injuries are Related to Improperly Addressing Prolonged Labor

If a parent feels that injuries related to prolonged labor was the result of negligence, he or she can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. To win a malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff needs to show the defendant violated the relevant standard of care.

“Standard of care” means the level of care that another qualified medical professional would have provided in similar circumstances. Since the risks from prolonged labor are so serious, it’s often the case that a doctor should take action whenever he or she detects the warning signs.

If the doctor does not properly monitor the mother and child or fails to respond appropriately in cases of prolonged labor, and the child suffers injuries, then he or she may be liable for damages.

Before filing the lawsuit, plaintiffs need to deliver to the defendant(s) a certified expert opinion concerning negligence in the case. This opinion needs to be a part of the malpractice lawsuit as well unless negligence is obvious to a layman.

Other types of evidence used in medical malpractice claims are:

  • hospital records;
  • witness testimony;
  • doctors’ notes; and
  • other medical records. 

Get Legal Help Filing Your Case

To bring a claim, Florida has a statute of limitations of two years from the date the plaintiff discovers the malpractice. Plaintiffs must also bring a claim within four years of the actual date of the negligence.

However, if the case is brought on behalf of a child, it must be brought by the child’s eighth birthday. If the claim is not filed within these time limits, the plaintiff likely will be barred from recovering damages.

Chalik & Chalik is a family-based law firm that can handle the complexities of medical malpractice claims related to birth injuries. Call us at 855-971-1701 or contact us online for a free consultation or case evaluation.