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A Cesarean section, or C-section, can be an effective method of addressing serious complications during birth. If the fetus is in distress, a timely C-section is usually performed. Obstetrical nurses, technicians, and obstetricians themselves are expected to monitor fetal condition, determine the cause of any fetal distress during childbirth and respond promptly and appropriately to ensure the child's well-being. Failure to perform a C-section or an unreasonable delay in performing a C-section can have devastating consequences.
Fetal distress during labor, often caused by an interruption of blood flow to the fetus, is the leading indicator that an emergency C-section is required. An emergency C-section can enable doctors to deliver a baby rapidly and restore proper flow of oxygen to the baby's brain. Without an emergency C-section, there is a risk of fetal brain injury, cerebral palsy and even death. Signs of fetal distress include:
Though these signs of distress can be subtle on fetal monitors, doctors and nurses are trained and paid to recognize fetal distress. When, there is negligent monitoring and doctors fail to perform an emergency C-section causing a child serious injury or death, there may be sufficient evidence to support a medical malpractice claim.
Although nationwide, somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of women who attempt vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) have a successful vaginal delivery many local hospitals do not routinely offer vaginal birth after C-section. This is largely due to a lack of resources to handle an emergency C-section should complications arise during vaginal birth after C-section. The risk of uterine rupture and other complications during vaginal birth after C-section often relate to the type of incision performed during the previous C-section. For example, a T-shaped incision — most common in unplanned or emergency C-sections — generally makes VBAC unadvisable, due to high risk of uterine rupture. If doctors fail to take known risks into account or fail to perform an emergency C-section when complications arise during VBAC, and the mother or child suffers serious injury as a result, this may form the basis of a medical malpractice claim.