3 Questions about Improper Prenatal Care

A pregnant mother receives improper prenatal care from her female doctor as they review an ultrasound in the doctor's office.

Expectant mothers turn to medical professionals, including OB/GYNs, family practice physicians, and midwives to ensure that their babies are healthy before delivery. However, these healthcare providers  may miss early signs of a complication and allow the safety of both  mother and baby to be put at risk. Birth injuries can lead to lifelong problems and a costly medical bill. As a mother, it is important to understand what improper prenatal care looks like and how you can take legal action against it.

What occurs in prenatal care?

Expectant mothers should visit their  obstetrical provider in regular intervals to monitor progression of their pregnancy and the state of the unborn baby. Typically, obstetric visits should occur:

  • Once at least every four weeks during the first six to seven months of pregnancy
  • At least every other week during weeks 31 through 37
  • At least every seven days after week 37 until birth

During this time, at least two ultrasounds will be conducted: one during the first trimester and another at 20 weeks gestation. These are conducted to confirm the pregnancy, number of fetuses, fetal heart rate and estimate the due date. An ultrasound can reveal problems with the fetus, placenta, and more. The 20-week ultrasound is performed to check the anatomy of the baby.

Each prenatal visit should consist of a physical examination as well as a screen for potential problems. The screen may check for abnormal symptoms, blood pressure readings, weight, urine testing, uterine measurements and the fetal heart rate. These checks ensure that the pregnancy is progressing as expected, yet some providers fail to conduct the necessary tests. By doing so, physicians may fail to diagnose a dangerous condition early on.

What are common prenatal conditions?

Many conditions that are often missed treated without consequences to the mother or baby with proper prenatal care. Common prenatal diagnosis errors include:

  • Fetal Macrosomia. Occurring in nearly 10 percent of all pregnancies, fetal macrosomia means that the fetus is oversized. This condition necessitates scheduling a C-section or an early induction; otherwise the child may experience shoulder injuries or facial nerve damage.
  • Maternal Infections: Expectant mothers have a compromised immune system, making them more susceptible to common infections. Expectant mothers often contract strep, rubella, chickenpox, bacterial infections and more. Group B strep is a common infection during pregnancy. Unless detected early and treated before and during labor, these infections can lead to serious brain injuries for the child.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Women are typically checked for this condition between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. This form of diabetes only occurs during pregnancies and may require insulin injections or a special diet. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can lead to high birth weights, premature delivery and other complications.
  • Placenta Previa: Placenta Previa means that the placenta either totally or partially covers the cervix. This condition can be diagnosed early on through ultrasounds and a C-section may be recommendedat the time of delivery..
  • Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is the development of high blood pressure during pregnancy that can affect other organs in the body and be dangerous for both mother and baby if untreated. Mothers may also develop high protein in the urine.  Treatment for preeclampsia, depending on when it occurs, may involve immediate delivery, bedrest and/or special medications.

What can you do after improper prenatal care?

If you suspect you experienced improper prenatal care, there are actions you can take against your medical provider. Birth injury cases fall under medical malpractice, meaning you may be eligible to receive economic and non-economic damages to compensate for their negligence. The first step is to contact an attorney.

We understand that it can be difficult to pursue a claim against a medical  provider you may have trusted and treated with for several years, and you may still have unanswered questions. Zevan Davidson Roman’s medical malpractice attorneys are always available for a free consultation to kickstart your legal journey. We look forward to serving you.

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