Did Your Doctor Wait Too Long Before Performing A C-Section?

Determining if Your C-Section Was Delayed

Statistics show that, currently, about one third of all births in the United States happen by C-section. Cesarean births, or C-sections, are those that involve the surgical removal of an infant from the mother rather than vaginal delivery. In many instances, a C-section is necessary to protect the health and safety of the infant, as well as the mother. When this is the case, the procedure is known as an emergency C-section. Emergency C-sections are unplanned and typically occur when a problem arises during traditional labor. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are trained to recognize signs of a problem and perform prompt C-sections to avoid further complications and avoid jeopardizing the life of the baby or mother.

However, doctors do not always perform C-sections in a timely manner. They may fail to notice symptoms of fetal distress or fail to respond to signs of a problem. Sadly, delayed C-sections (also known as prolonged labor) can lead serious consequences for both the mother and the child.

It is possible that your doctor waited too long to perform a C-section if your child was born via C-section and suffered any of the following injuries:

  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Anoxia or hypoxia
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Complications resulting from oxygen deprivation
  • Brachial plexus injuries
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Paralysis (partial or complete)
  • Shoulder dystocia

This list is not exhaustive. There are numerous other injuries that can occur when C-sections are delayed, including infant death and maternal injuries. There is no hard and fast answer to how long is too long when it comes to labor. While doctors, nurses, and midwives are generally trained to conduct a C-section after a certain point, failing to respond to signs of fetal distress at any point during labor or delivery can mean that they waited too long.

When Are Emergency C-Sections Necessary?

In general, emergency C-sections are required when an issue arises that prevents vaginal delivery. Such issues can be those that affect the safety of the mother or the baby—or both.

Emergency C-sections are most commonly ordered when:

  • There are signs of fetal distress, such as decelerated heart rate or asphyxiation
  • The mother shows signs of distress, including hemorrhaging
  • The umbilical cord moves through the cervix ahead of the baby (prolapsed umbilical cord)
  • The placenta has peeled away from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption)
  • The uterus tears on or near the scar from a previous C-section (uterine rupture)

When immediate delivery is the only option to protect the safety of the child or the mother, an emergency C-section is required. Unfortunately, medical professionals do not always act quickly enough to prevent complications and infant injuries and the consequences can be devastating.

What Happens when a Doctor Fails to Perform a Timely C-Section?

Failing to perform a timely C-section is a form of medical malpractice or negligence. This is because doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals have a duty to keep their patients reasonably safe by providing necessary medical care as soon as it is needed. When they fail to do this, the mother and the child can suffer severe, life-altering injuries.

One of the most common consequences of delayed C-sections is fetal oxygen deprivation. When labor goes on for too long, the infant can suffer asphyxiation, anoxia, hypoxia, or HIE. These can all lead to serious complications, including brain damage and even death. Even in relatively mild instances, children may suffer developmental delays or cognitive impairment.

Mothers are also at risk when C-sections are delayed. In contrast to planned, timely C-sections, delayed procedures can lead to a higher risk of severe hemorrhaging, anesthesia or medication errors, and other problems. Mothers are also at a higher risk of emotional distress and trauma after prolonged labor and may suffer many lasting consequences, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other related issues.

What to Do if You Believe Your Doctor Acted Negligently

If you believe that your doctor waited too long to perform a C-section and your child was injured as a result, reach out to a New Hampshire birth injury lawyer who has experience in this area of law. At Abramson, Brown & Dugan, we have handled numerous cases dealing with delayed C-sections and similar forms of medical malpractice. We can help you examine the facts of your case and determine if your doctor (or another medical professional) did indeed act negligently. If so, our team can help you understand your legal options.

We are here to act as your advocate throughout the legal process. With decades of experience and more successful medical malpractice settlements and verdicts than any other firm in the state, we are committed to fighting for your rights. Our team can help you hold the negligent parties accountable.

Contact us at (603) 323-4622 to discuss your case with one of our New Hampshire birth injury attorneys today. We offer free initial consultations.


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