Newborn and Infant Uterine Rupture Injury Lawyers
Uterine rupture refers to a tear in the uterus wall, most often at the site of a previous incision. The severity of the injury can range from a weak spot in the uterine wall — which attending medical staff should notice and plan for — to a complete rupture of the uterus, with the fetus, placenta and placental blood entering the mother’s abdomen.
A uterine rupture is a serious birth event with a high rate of maternal and fetal morbidity — according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 1 percent of mothers who sustain a uterine rupture will die, along with 6 percent of fetuses. Through careful management of at-risk cases by skilled and attentive physicians, many of these birth injuries are avoidable.
Risk Factors for Uterine Rupture
Uterine rupture is rare for women who haven’t previously undergone C-sections, with studies showing an incidence between 1 out of 5,700–20,000 pregnancies. For women with a low transverse scar from a prior C-section, this number jumps to 1 out of 200 pregnancies when attempting a vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC). The only preventative approach against uterine rupture is another C-section, but this approach also has risks.
Part of providing informed consent should include a discussion of the risks of elective repeat C-section versus a VBAC. Research has shown that maternal mortality is significantly higher for repeat C-sections at 13.4 per 100,000, compared to 3.8 per 100,000 when laboring for a VBAC.
The uterus through pregnancy. Source: Wikipedia
The standard of care for at-risk mothers should include careful analysis of the following risk factors:
- An abnormally positioned fetus
- Numerous full-term pregnancies in the past
- Mother given a labor-inducing medication
- Mother older than 30
- Giving birth via VBAC after 40th week
- Complications from previous C-sections
- Scars from non-pregnancy-related uterine procedures
- Scar from the repair of a previously ruptured uterus
Warning Signs During Labor
During labor for a VBAC, doctors should pay attention to the following signs that the mother may require an emergency C-section:
- Severe localized pain
- Abnormal fetal heart rate
- Vaginal bleeding or hemorrhage
- Baby recedes back into the birth canal
- Blood pressure and heart rate problems
In cases of uterine rupture, a delayed C-section can prove negligent.
The Dangers of Uterine Rupture
Uterine rupture can have deadly consequences for both baby and mother. Short of death, there are also many other serious consequences.
It’s common for uterine rupture to cause birth asphyxia in a newborn. This can lead to brain damage and other lifelong complications, such as:
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
- Cerebral palsy
- Developmental delays
- Seizure disorders
1 out of 200 women with a low transverse scar will have a uterine rupture during labor. Source: Wikipedia
Mothers are also at risk for complications such severe blood loss, hemorrhage and requiring a hysterectomy.
How to Know if Medical Negligence is Responsible for Your Infant’s Injury
To prove medical negligence, it must be clearly established that a birth injury was the result of a breach of care on the part of the attending physician. In cases of uterine rupture, this could be reflected in a lack of attention given to risk factors, a delay in ordering a timely C-section or directly causing the injury while delivering the baby.
Most often, establishing medical negligence requires the testimony of an expert medical witness, able to verify that the defendants’ conduct fell short of the accepted medical standard, and that this lapse in care was responsible for the infant’s injury.
When to Consult with an Experienced Birth Injury Attorney
With birth injuries stemming from uterine rupture, the best course of action is to consult with skilled attorneys like those at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt as soon as possible. Although filing suit may seem like a secondary concern when dealing with an infant’s health, both New Jersey and Pennsylvania law state that birth injury cases must be filed within two years from the date of injury — other states set their statutes of limitations as short as one year for such cases.
With 30 years of experience in cases of birth trauma, McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt is well suited to evaluate the situation and help determine if the injury suffered involved acts of medical negligence or professional malpractice. All birth injury claims are handled on a contingency basis.