Frequently Asked Questions about C-Sections and Birth Injuries

Cesarean sections, or “c-sections”, are an increasingly common way of delivering an unborn child.  Like any surgical procedure, c-sections are not without risk, which is why we offer readers answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about c-sections and birth injuries.  At Birth Injury Guide, we are here to offer guidance, support, and information for clients navigating birth injuries or medical malpractice.

Frequently Asked Questions about C-Sections and Birth Injuries

Sometimes c-sections are required due to complications, and sometimes they can be scheduled as an elective.  In either case, it is important that you are aware of the nature of this surgical procedure and the potential risks, and that you know what to do if you or your child are injured during a c-section.

Q: What are the Risks Involved with Having a C-Section?

A: A c-section is considered a major surgery and there are risks involved, even in the best of circumstances.  Some of the potential risks include:

  • Bleeding
  • Internal organ damage
  • Infection
  • Lacerated bowel
  • Nerve damage
  • Blood clots
  • Heart and lung complications

These are the primary risks associated with a c-section.  Additional risk factors may exist depending on your overall health.

Q: Does Having a C-Section Increase the Risk of Birth Injuries?

A: Before answering this question, let’s review what a birth injury is.  A birth injury can be defined as any injury an infant sustains during labor and delivery, or shortly thereafter.  For most women, a c-section is ordered in response to a complication or emergent medical concern.  This alone can increase the risk of complications, but it should not increase the risk of birth injuries.  Why? Because the majority of birth injuries are considered preventable.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that around 30 percent of all birth injuries are the result of communication errors between doctors, nurses, and medical staff.  Following behind communication errors, most birth injuries are found to be the result of failure to diagnose fetal or maternal distress, hospital negligence, delayed c-section, inappropriate use of medications, and improper use of labor and delivery tools.

Q: When Does a C-Section Birth Injury Qualify as Medical Malpractice?

A: There are two primary situations related to c-sections and birth injuries that may qualify as medical malpractice.  These two situations include a healthcare provider’s failure to perform a c-section in a timely manner, or his or her failure to properly perform the operation.

Failure to Perform a C-Section in a Timely Manner

Doctors are required to properly monitor maternal and fetal vital signs, and be aware of possible risk factors.  Doctors and nurses must also be aware of signs of distress, complications, or immediate medical danger.  When vital signs indicate distress, or certain complications become apparent, a c-section may be necessary immediately.  Failure to perform a c-section in a timely manner can result in birth injuries including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), brain damage, and cerebral palsy.

Failure to Properly Perform a C-Section

Whether in the flurry of an emergency situation or the calm of an elective one, surgeons have a duty to perform operations in a manner consistent with accepted standards of care.  Unfortunately, that does not always happen, and the results of a botched c-section can be life-altering for you and your child.  Common errors occurring during a c-section include:

  • Lacerated bowel
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations to the child
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Improper wound closure

In most cases, the errors related to c-sections and birth injuries occur as a result of doctor error.

Q: Can I Sue for a Botched C-Section?

A: If you or your child were injured during a c-section, you may be able to sue.  The first step in determining whether you can sue is carefully reviewing your situation and getting all the facts.  In order to file a birth injury lawsuit, negligence must have occurred on the part of a healthcare provider.  That is, you must establish that the healthcare provider acted in a way that violates the standards of care, his or her duty of care to you, or your legal rights.

Birth injuries often result in long-term or even lifelong consequences.  Conditions like cerebral palsy require a lifetime of medical care, which can be financially taxing.  The trauma of being injured during what should have been a joyous occasion, as well as processing the outcome, can also be emotionally draining.  If you can prove that your injuries were caused by negligence or substandard care, then you may be able to recover financial compensation for these, and potentially other, losses.

Contact Birth Injury Guide to Learn More

Every birth injury case is different and requires individualized attention and planning.  At Birth Injury Guide, our team shares knowledge and resources in the hopes that you can better determine how best to manage your case.  To learn more about c-sections and birth injuries, or to find out how we can help you, fill out our online form, or call us at 877-415-6603.

Meagan Cline

Written By Meagan Cline

Meagan Cline is a professional legal researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to the team at Birth Injury Guide to provide up-to-date and relevant content that clients can count on.