Yes. Your infant’s fetal laceration may be caused by your doctor’s inexperience or negligence. If this is the case, you have the right to sue your doctor for causing fetal lacerations in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
A birth injury lawyer can review your case to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit. Most law firms offer complimentary consultations to help you get started. Learn more about fetal lacerations and the complications they can cause.
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Why Do Fetal Lacerations Occur?
Surgeon inexperience is one of the top risk factors for fetal lacerations. With too little experience performing cesarean section deliveries, a doctor may fail to take the necessary precautions to mitigate the risk of a birth injury. For example, a fetal laceration is less likely to occur if the surgeon makes a transverse or vertical incision, as opposed to a “J” or inverted “T” incision.
Surgeons can also mitigate the risk of a fetal laceration by making sure the site of the uterine incision is suctioned thoroughly and that the surgical instruments that hold the incision apart are removed before delivery. The surgeon can also sweep their finger through the uterine incision with every pass of the scalpel to minimize the likelihood of a deep laceration.
These are just a few steps an experienced surgeon can take to reduce the likelihood of a fetal laceration. However, if the surgeon fails to take these preventative measures or forgets because of simple inexperience and your infant could have suffered a fetal laceration as a result.
If so, you have the right to hold the doctor responsible for your child’s injuries and any future financial losses as a result of the fetal laceration in a lawsuit.
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How Are Fetal Lacerations Classified?
According to the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG), fetal lacerations occur in an estimated 0.7% to 1.9% of deliveries. Of these cases, the majority of the injuries are mild or minor.
Fetal lacerations are classified into three categories:
- Mild: a superficial wound that affects only the skin and heals itself
- Moderate: a deeper wound that involves both the skin and underlying muscle
- Severe: a deep cut that involves muscle, bone, and possibly even the nerves
Where the infant suffers a minor fetal laceration, the injury can be easily treated with topical tissue adhesives or adhesive plaster.
However, if the wound involves damaged muscles or cuts through the nerves, the damage is more severe and may be long-lasting. Immediate surgical treatment is necessary to repair the deep structures. Unfortunately, there may be long-lasting repercussions, depending on the location of the injury.
Possible Complications After a Fetal Laceration
There are numerous possible complications from a moderate to severe fetal laceration. Some of them include:
- Brachial plexus injuries: The brachial plexus is the group of nerves near the neck that controls the movement of the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers. If the surgeon cuts the brachial plexus, it will require surgery. A surgeon may be able to restore function by splicing a donor nerve graft from one of your child’s other nerves. It can take months to years for mobility to be restored, or it may never be fully restored.
- Hearing and vision loss: The AJOG reports that 70% of fetal lacerations occur to the head, face, and ear. If the laceration is moderate to severe and occurs around the eye or ear, it could cause a partial or complete loss of vision or hearing for your baby.
- Facial nerve palsy: If the surgeon cuts through a nerve in your child’s face, it could make it impossible for the nerve to send signals to different parts of the face, essentially paralyzing the muscles. Surgical treatment is essential to restore function, although there is no guarantee that it will be successful.
These are just a few of the possible physical complications your child could suffer as a result of a fetal laceration. It is also important to consider the psychological impact it will have on their future. Even if the injury is superficial, the scar will grow as your child grows, potentially creating a visible, large, and irregular scar that can affect their psychological well-being.
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Risk Factors for Fetal Lacerations
Your child’s doctor should know to look for risk factors that make fetal lacerations during a C-section more likely. A qualified obstetrician or surgeon should be able to recognize and mitigate these risks.
Some factors commonly associated with fetal lacerations include:
- Inexperienced medical staff
- Ruptured membranes before delivery
- An emergency C-section
- The use of forceps or other extraction devices
- Numerous uterine incisions
- Having to cut through the placenta
- Low transverse incision
- Active labor
If any of these red flags were present during your child’s delivery, medical staff should have taken measures to avoid fetal lacerations. Failing to identify and manage these risk factors could be the cause of your child’s injury.
Building Your Medical Malpractice Case
To be successful in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will need to prove that your child’s obstetrician, surgeon, or nurse is liable. You must build a case that demonstrates:
- The doctor owed your child a duty of care
- The doctor breached that duty of care
- Your baby suffered an injury as a result
- Damages resulting from your child’s injury
Duty of Care
Duty of care is easy enough to establish. You simply have to show that you had a doctor-patient relationship. Paperwork such as your medical bills can validate this.
Breach of Duty of Care
Your case must show that your child’s doctor or health care provider violated the duty of care owed to your baby. Compare their actions to the reasonable care you would expect from any medical professional in the same situation.
You have to connect an injury to the breached duty of care. The injury is your child’s fetal lacerations. Verify your child’s injury with photographs, notes, and medical documents.
As part of your lawsuit, you need to prove that you suffered damages as a result of your child’s fetal lacerations. This can include financial damages and mental anguish. An attorney can handle the legal proceedings while you focus on your child’s recovery.
Potential Damages Available in a Fetal Laceration Case
If your child is suffering from a serious fetal laceration that you believe was caused by the negligence of your surgeon, you have the right to hold them responsible. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit could allow you to claim compensation for:
- Your child’s suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Medical diagnosis
- Future medical bills
- Physical therapy
- Reconstructive plastic surgeries
- Appointments with specialists
If your child’s injuries were avoidable, hold the surgeon liable for these future costs. A fetal lacerations lawyer can help you file a medical malpractice lawsuit.