Was your child born with injuries during a vaginal delivery or delayed c-section? You may have many questions:

  • Could a c-section have prevented my child's injury?
  • Would my child have been born healthy if the c-section happened sooner?
  • Was my doctor negligent in the delivery?
  • Should I consider a malpractice claim?

Our experienced birth injury lawyers are here to help you answer these difficult questions.

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In recent years, cesarean sections have become much more common. According to the CDC, in 2014 over 32% of US deliveries were done by c-section. This figure is much higher than the worldwide average of 19%.

There are many cases in which a c-section becomes medically necessary. If a doctor takes too long or fails to order one in such a situation, serious pregnancy complications could arise. If the baby is born with serious injuries as a result, the medical professionals involved could face a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Common Injuriesnewborn baby yawning

Failure to order a c-section or perform one in a timely manner can cause complications which result in serious permanent injuries. Examples include:

  • Intellectual disabilities - In many cases, oxygen deprivation could have been prevented by a c-section. This often leads to various cognitive impairments, such as mental retardation and learning disorders.
  • Movement disorders - Many cases of Cerebral Palsy, Erb's Palsy, and other movement disorders are caused by physical complications during vaginal births. Some of these disorders could have been prevented with a c-section.
  • Death - In cases involving extreme complications, the lives of both the child and the mother could be at risk if an emergency c-section is not performed in time.

If your child has experienced any of these injuries from a vaginal birth, your doctor could be held liable for failure to promptly perform a medically necessary c-section.


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When Is A C-Section Necessary?pregnant mom holding belly

C-sections may be planned in advance or ordered in emergency situations. There are several scenarios in which a c-section becomes medically necessary. Broadly speaking, they become necessary because of complications either in pregnancy or during labor.

Pregnancy Complications

Your doctor should be regularly evaluating you and your developing child throughout your pregnancy. If any of the following conditions apply, a c-section may be necessary.

Placental Abruption

The placenta transfers nutrients and oxygen to the fetus through the umbilical cord. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus before birth. This can cause the developing infant to be deprived of the oxygen and nutrients needed for a healthy birth, which increases the risk of brain damage and other birth injuries.

Maternal Medical Conditions

Medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure may impair the transfer of nutrients and oxygen between the placenta and uterus. These conditions increase the risk of complications in vaginal births.

Maternal Infections

Serious infections such as strep, hepatitis, or HIV could be transferred from mother to child through the placenta. C-sections help to reduce this risk.

Multiple Pregnancy

C-sections are often safer for women carrying two or more fetuses. In many multiple pregnancies, labor begins too early or the babies are positioned in awkward positions in the uterus. Cesarean births may reduce complications in these scenarios.

Labor Complications

Certain conditions may arise during the labor process which make an emergency c-section necessary.

Abnormally Large Baby

Large babies will be more difficult to deliver via vaginal birth. Attempting to force a very large baby through the birth canal can result in serious birth injuries. A c-section is a much safer option.

Breech And Transverse Births

Delivering a baby head-first is the safest method of vaginal birth. But sometimes the baby is positioned with his feet facing the vaginal opening, or lying sideways in the uterus. Attempting to deliver these babies vaginally often results in fetal injuries.

Delayed Or Stopped Labor

Sometimes the labor process becomes too slow or stops completely. In these cases, the birth canal may not open wide enough to allow for vaginal birth.

Fetal Distress

The baby may experience certain health problems after labor has begun. For example, the umbilical cord could become prolapsed or wrapped around the baby's neck. An abnormal heart rate is also a serious problem which could necessitate a cesarean section.

Legal Options

Victims of medical negligence and malpractice have rights. If you believe a delayed c-section is responsible for your child's injuries, an experienced birth injury legal team could help you secure the financial compensation your family needs.

Vaccaro v. Scranton Quincy Hospital

In December 2012, a Northeastern Pennsylvania woman named Marissa Vacarro was admitted to the labor unit at Scranton Quincy hospital. Upon examination, obstetrician Dr. Raymond C. DeCesare discovered a severe placental abruption. He determined that an emergency c-section was necessary in order to prevent hypoxic brain injury. However, it took 84 minutes before the procedure was performed.

The child, Emma Vaccaro was born "profoundly hypoxic" and with severe brain damage. She also suffered from visual impairment, seizures, and renal failure. Vaccaro filed a medical malpractice suit against the hospital and DeCesare, alleging that the delayed c-section caused her child's injuries. In January 2017, a settlement was reached for over $19 million.

Types of Compensation

If medical malpractice contributed to permanent injuries or wrongful death in your pregnancy, you are eligible to receive full compensation for damages. If you have a solid case, you may be awarded compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Pain and suffering

The right legal team will have contacts with medical experts who can help analyze your case. Be aware that there is a 2-year statute of limitations in PA for medical malpractice lawsuits. If you suspect that your child's injuries were preventable, don't hesitate to contact an attorney.

Further Reading

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