One risk of pregnancy that can become quite serious is an infection. Infections can spread to any tissue of the body, including the womb and the umbilical cord. Infection of the womb when there is an unborn baby is called chorioamnionitis. It’s an extremely serious condition that can cause the baby and the mother to die.
A good doctor can determine when an infection is present and treat it with antibiotics, but in one story, reported by The Island Packet, doctors in South Carolina are under trial for failure to detect chorioamnionitis in time.
A mother was expected to have a normal labor when she went to Hilton Head Hospital to have her second child. After several hours of tests, she was discharged and scheduled for induction two days later.
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When she came back, her temperature was up and she had pregnancy-induced hypertension, which are warning signs of an infection. Antibiotics were ordered but didn’t come until labor was in progress. When the baby was born, his heart rate was too low to support life and resuscitation efforts failed.
To make matters worse, the mother experienced septic shock and blood clots from the undetected infection. By the time she got out of the intensive care unit, doctors gave her a total hysterectomy. An autopsy of the baby confirmed the presence of chorioamnionitis.
According to an expert witness at the trial, had the doctors recognized the infection and performed a Caesarian section, the baby’s life would likely have been saved.
The trial is still in process.