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The Maternal Mortality Crisis and New York Medical Malpractice

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The United States of America has the highest mortality rate for women during childbirth than any other developed country.  Pregnancy-related deaths in the United States have risen since 2000 while other countries’ rates have gone down.  Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine has called for standardized care for the treatment of women in labor in an attempt to reduce the number of pregnancy-related deaths due primarily to heavy bleeding after delivery, elevated blood pressure, and blood clots before or after delivery as reported in a recent article by NPR.ORG.

The reports and results are disturbing as the birth of a child should be one of the most beautiful moments of a parent’s life. Many people associate medical malpractice during childbirth as causing injuries to the infant.  However, as those familiar with New York Medical Malpractice law know, there are numerous reported cases of injuries sustained by the mother giving birth, with many of those injuries resulting in death.

At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, our New York medical malpractice lawyers have decades of experience handling medical malpractice lawsuits involving injuries to woman as a result of medical negligence during the birthing process.  As is evident from the above article, there appears to be a growing disconnect between the medical profession and the proper medical care of woman giving birth.

From a medical negligence perspective, a delivering OB/GYN and hospital staff have a duty to provide proper medical care to both the mother and the baby during childbirth.  Both the mother and the baby have what is known as a “doctor-patient relationship” which would impose a duty of care on all medical providers involved.  This would necessarily include Labor and Delivery nurses whose role would be to monitor a delivering mother and provide competent nursing support, which would include the monitoring of blood pressure, excessive bleeding, and the potential signs and symptoms of blood clots.

In analyzing a medical record for indications of medical negligence, an experienced attorney will thoroughly review all notes by both the doctors and the nurses to determine if the standard of care was followed by all persons involved.  It is often the case that a doctor is not immediately made aware of certain findings made by a nurse which require immediate medical treatment.  Like a doctor, a nurse is charged with a specific knowledge of the applicable medicine and the standard of care under the circumstances.   A violation of that duty by a doctor or a nurse which results in injury or death to a birth mother can form the grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit in New York.

The wrongful death of a mother during or after the birthing process can result in a tremendous financial burden on a family, particularly if the infant survives and is now growing up without his/her mother.  This is often referred to, under New York law, as a claim for “Loss of Parental Care and Guidance” and is part of the damages to the Estate.  Additionally, if the birth mother was working, there would be an obvious economic loss of income to the family as a result of her death.

At Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, our birth injury lawyers have been defending the rights of malpractice victims for over 50 years. We understand both the financial and emotional hardship that can accompany a birth injury. As a result, we handle all aspects of the legal process to help ease the burden placed on our clients. Our resources and experience have led to many large verdicts and settlements in birth injury cases.