Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Hospital Labor Ward Mistakes Harm Mothers and Babies

Posted by Charles Gilman | Sep 01, 2016 | 0 Comments

Doctors, nurses, and midwives make countless mistakes every day in labor wards, harming mothers and babies alike. It is no wonder that obstetrics and gynecology medical malpractice insurance has some of the highest premiums in the industry. Unfortunately for many patients, the doctors and hospitals will never admit to making a mistake that leaves mothers and newborn patients suffering serious injury.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, there are at least 340 mistakes made every day in National Health Service maternity wards. That equates to a hospital labor ward mistake almost every 4 minutes. Over 150 mothers and babies died in 2015, and another 350 suffered serious injury. In many of those cases, the patients were unaware that a mistake had occurred until after the damage was done.

While most of the thousands of mistakes made by hospitals are classified as “near misses” resulting in little to minor injuries, other mistakes have lifelong consequences. This includes brain injury, nerve damage, brachial palsy, swelling in the brain, fractured bones, and shoulder dystocia. Hospitals and doctors are aware of commonplace medical mistakes and need to take active measures to reduce the number of dangerous errors.

The NHS in England reported more than 120,000 safety incidents in hospital maternity wards last year. According to hospital officials, they are struggling with increasing numbers of complicated labors from older women and obese patients. Unfortunately, mothers-to-be and babies are suffering similar problems here in the U.S.

Complaints by hospitals do not appear to address some common failings of doctors, nurses, and midwives. These include failing to properly monitor the fetal heartbeat, doctors incorrectly administering epidurals, and deciding to conduct emergency c-sections too late. Even more troubling is that these numbers represent the incidents that staff reported as safety incidents. There may be many more mistakes and medical errors never reported because doctors fear they will be held accountable for causing a birth injury or harm to the mother.

Another reason health officials are blaming for the increasing number of adverse health events is on staffing issues. “We're still short of midwives and junior doctors in maternity wards,” said Maureen Treadwell, with the charity Birth Trauma Association. “There's no doubt that when there's not enough staff, things are more likely to go wrong. Far too many women are being injured and too many babies are dying because necessary and wanted interventions are being delayed.”

According to the report, about one-third of the incidents involved treatment or procedural mistakes, such as improper epidural injections or forcep errors. Over 8,500 incidents were attributed to lack of staff, and a similar number of incidents were categorized as mix-ups in documentation, medical notes, or drug charts.

If you or a loved one has been injured or emotionally harmed as the result of a negligent doctor, the Gilman & Bedigian team of experienced attorneys is fully equipped to handle your claim. Our staff includes a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience. We focus on getting you compensation for your injuries so you can focus on getting better and moving forward with your life.

About the Author

Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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