The risks of anesthesia during a pregnancy include a wide range of complications that can lead to issues with the mother’s health, as well as miscarriage, preterm labor, and other risks to the baby. If there is a procedure a mother requires during pregnancy, the mother and their doctor should carefully weigh the risks to determine if they can wait until after the birth or if they need to move forward with the procedure now. In some cases, an alternative to general anesthesia may be possible, as well.
In years past, it was common for doctors to recommend waiting to undergo non-obstetric procedures when possible. However, according to Clinical Pharmacology During Pregnancy, this is no longer as common as it once was. Today, more mothers and babies receive exposure to anesthetics during pregnancy and gestation than ever before. Between one and two percent of all pregnant women in developed countries undergo anesthesia during pregnancy for a condition that is unrelated to their pregnancy.
With more women receiving anesthesia and undergoing procedures during pregnancy, it is only natural that the incidence of related birth injuries and complications is also on the rise.
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Anesthesia Is Especially Risky During Pregnancy
Because of the many changes the body undergoes during pregnancy, it is more complicated to administer anesthetics properly during this time. According to a study published in the medical journal Anesthesiology, some medical mistakes or issues related to this include:
- Hypoxemia or asphyxia of the baby because of reduced blood flow to the placenta
- Complications related to maternal hypotension during the procedure
- Maternal hypoxia that affects the child
- Placental passage of the drugs causing a slow down of the baby’s cardiovascular system or central nervous system
- Exposure to medications that can disturb development and cause life-long impairments
These concerns could lead to a wide range of issues in the baby. This includes:
- Cerebral palsy
- Congenital birth defects or medical conditions
- Preterm labor and delivery, and the resulting risks
- Loss of pregnancy, particularly early in pregnancy
Other risks of anesthesia during a pregnancy include risks to the mother, such as:
- Increased risk of blood clots including DVT and PE
- Aspiration and pneumonia
- Pulmonary edema
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Preterm labor
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Some Procedures May Be Necessary but Proceed with Caution
When a pregnant woman requires surgery, it is important that she and her trusted medical team weigh the risks to her and the baby against the reason surgery is necessary. In some cases, the risks will outweigh the reward, and the procedure may need to be delayed. Failure to properly consider the risks could be medical negligence.
When a pregnant woman does need to receive general anesthesia, extra precautions are important. This should include having an obstetrician involved in the procedure, at least on call. Other factors that play a significant role in reducing the risks to the mother and baby include:
- Relying on experienced anesthesiologists trained to understand and adjust for the physiologic considerations related to pregnancy
- The choice of medications used, especially those known to harm developing fetuses early in pregnancy
- Specific concerns related to the health of the mother or baby
Procedures During Pregnancy and Medical Malpractice
If you underwent a procedure during pregnancy that required general anesthesia and something went wrong, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice case based on your or your child’s injuries. Medical malpractice could occur in these cases because:
- The doctor failed to warn you of all the risks
- The doctor failed to confirm a pregnancy before administering anesthesia
- The doctor used dangerous drugs that cause your child to suffer a birth injury
- The doctor failed to monitor you and your child closely during surgery
- The doctor or medical team acted negligently in another way
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can review your case for free. You can discuss your medical condition or your child’s birth injury, learn more about the strength of your medical malpractice case, and begin to build a claim for financial recovery.
It is important that you take action as soon as possible after you recognize the medical malpractice, however. Each state has its own laws that create a deadline for birth injury and medical malpractice cases. You could lose the right to take action if you miss this deadline.
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The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can offer help in your case today. Call (800) 222-9529 to speak with someone familiar with the laws in your case who will review the merits of your case for free.