When A Trip to the ER During Pregnancy Ends in Disaster

Hospital and emergency room (ER) negligence occurs when a hospital or ER medical staff fails to do what they were supposed to do.

Emergency rooms are often busy places with long waits due to waiting rooms filled with sick and injured patients in need of medical treatment. To help prioritize patient needs all emergency rooms have a a code of conduct and procedures in place for virtually any type of illness or injury. But being busy is no excuse for medical negligence and even if you walk into an empty emergency room you may have a claim for ER negligence if an ER fails to adhere to a certain standard of care or does not follow proper procedures and a patient suffers harm as a result harm as a result.

One of the greatest challenges for ER doctors is in treating pregnant women because the lives of two patients are at stake: that of the mother and her unborn child. Medscape, a medical information website that publishes medical information and statistics even states “Few events cause more stress for the full time emergency physician than a pregnant woman at full term who is ready to deliver in the ED.”

Hospitals are responsible for providing appropriate care to all their patients — including pregnant women who are received in an emergency room. Emergency room staff and medical personnel must make quick, accurate assessments involving the extent of injury to both mother and baby. Even after an assessment is made, treatment must carefully consider as any surgery, drugs, or medical procedures can affect the health and life of both mother and baby.

Failure to recognize and properly treat a pregnant woman can result in death, or serious birth injuries including:

  • Hypoxia from oxygen deprivation. Oxygen deprivation (supply of oxygen to the baby may be impaired, often by twisting or compressing the umbilical cord. This may cause serious brain injury, resulting in lifelong seizure disorders, mental impairment, and cerebral palsy;
  • Brachial/Erb’s Palsy (injury to the brachial plexus, the group of nerves that controls movement of the arms and hands. Often caused when the babies shoulder impairs movement through the birth canal);
  • Facial paralysis (caused by pressure on the babies face during labor or birth);
  • Anemia, growth retardation, and/or CNS abnormalities;
  • Fetal and/or maternal death;
  • Bone fractures and shoulder dystocia;
  • Asphyxiation.

Examples of Emergency Room Negligence and Errors that Can Lead to Birth Injury

There are many reasons why a pregnant woman might go to an ER to seek medical help. She may be experiencing uterine bleeding, cramping, fever, be in pre-term labor, or be sick with an illness that could result in harm to her baby or herself, or she may be injured.

Examples of ER negligence in birth injury cases include misdiagnosis, failure to adequately evaluate a patient’s condition resulting in delayed or improper treatment, or failures in obtaining informed consent for a specific treatment. Other common emergency room errors/malpractice include:

  • Errors in diagnosing or properly treating preterm labor;
  • Failure to diagnose maternal or fetal distress;
  • Errors in diagnosing conditions that can affect a pregnancy such as appendicitis, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm and internal bleeding;
  • Misread x-ray results; and
  • Performing unnecessary surgeries or procedures that caused injury to either the mother or her fetus.

Holding ER Staff Accountable for Your Injury or Loss

We place our trust in ER staff in particular, because ER visits are not anticipated and patients often do not have a voice in decisions regarding their care and treatment options. This can make it difficult to prove a decision made by the ER in an emergency, say, while you were unconscious was in your best interested or not.

Issues of liability when it comes to hospital and ER negligence are particularly complicated and confusing, so having an experienced medical malpractice trial lawyer to guide you through the process is vital.

While specific doctors, nurses, or technicians may be held responsible for negligence, the hospital itself may also be liable. In a hospital negligence case, you must prove that the hospital staff acted unreasonably and that their conduct was a direct cause of your injury. The fact that the efforts of the hospital staff were unsuccessful is not necessarily grounds for a malpractice case.


Los Angeles ER Negligence and Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyers

If you or a loved one experienced substandard or counterproductive care from a hospital or emergency room, contact our law offices immediately. You may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and damages resulting from your injury or condition, or action in a wrongful death suit.

For a free, no-obligation initial consultation, call our law offices today at 310-322-0300 (Toll Free: 877-664-5407) to learn more about how we can help. You may be entitled to compensation for harm to you or your baby as a result of medical negligence or malpractice. The sooner you call, the sooner we can start helping you get the compensation you need to help with your recovery process.