Most newborns shift into proper position in the birth canal head first several weeks prior to delivery. However, some don’t, and the buttocks or feet come first. It’s called a breech position and occurs in 1 out of 25 deliveries. The different types of breech positions are complete, frank and footling. In a complete breech, the buttocks are facing downward with the legs folded at knees and feet. In a frank beach, the baby’s buttocks point at the birth canal with legs sticking straight up in front of the body. The footling breech presents with one or both of the baby’s feet pointing downward. While the exact cause of breech births is not fully understood, it’s more common in multiple births, history of premature births, abnormally shaped uteruses and when the uterus has too little amniotic fluid. Often, a physical check or specialized X-rays can reveal a breech position.
Breech Births and Medical Malpractice
Breech births can be extremely dangerous. Physicians must carefully monitor the condition of the fetus in breech births. Failure to recognize and treat a breech birth may be medical malpractice. Physicians should be able to recognize the fetus’s position and attempt to manually reposition it. When this doesn’t work, a C-section may be the safest option for delivery. An untimely C-section can be dangerous to both the fetus and mother.
The main elements in proving a medical negligence case are duty, breach, causation and damages. Proof must show that the defendant owed a legal duty of care. The legal duty of care is the care that another physician in the same specialty would’ve provided under the same or similar circumstances. The breach of duty in a medical malpractice suit is simply that the physician failed to abide by the standard of care. Often, a sworn statement from a medical expert witness confirms the breach of duty. The cause of damages must also establish a direct link between the breach of duty and injuries. There also must existing damages, such as physical, psychological or financial harm. Both economic and non-economic damages are available in medical malpractice lawsuits. Many states also allow for punitive damages.
Injuries and Conditions Caused by Negligence in Breech Births
Injuries and conditions caused by negligence in breech births may include cerebral palsy, fetal hypoxia, umbilical cord prolapse and nuchal cord. Cerebral palsy is group of neuromuscular disabilities that affect a child’s ability to control movement and posture. Fetal hypoxia can lead to seizures and brain damage. In an umbilical cord prolapse, the umbilical cord drops through the open cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby. The cord can then become trapped against the baby’s body during birth. This can cause a loss in oxygen and result in brain damage or stillbirth. A nuchal cord is when the umbilical cord coils around the baby’s neck. This can also cause a loss in oxygenation and cause damage to the baby. Babies who suffer breech injuries may need specialized medical treatment for the rest of their lives.
Vaginal Delivery or C-Section
In order to determine the optimal delivery for a breech birth, doctors must consider the size ratio between fetus and mother, the ability to maintain continuous fetal monitoring and how far along the delivery has proceeded before the breech position becomes evident. If the physician chooses to proceed with a vaginal delivery, preparation is needed for an emergency C-section, including anesthesia, availability of operating room, informed consent from the mother and appropriate medical staff. Grounds for medical malpractice include failure to determine the safest delivery procedure, untimely C-section and negligence in the operation of the delivery procedure.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Suit for a Negligent Breech Delivery
Both mother and baby can file a suit for damages in a negligent breech delivery. Damages may include future medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional duress, permanent disability and financial losses. If you or your baby has incurred harm due to a negligent breech delivery, give us a call for a free legal consultation. We’ll carefully review your individual circumstances and let you know whether or not you have a viable claim. Plus, you’ll be working a group of experienced birth malpractice attorneys.