While recent statistics show that roughly one third of all deliveries are by cesarean section (C-section), the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to report that C-section births are only medically necessary in about ten percent of childbirths. The WHO defines “medically necessary” as situations where:
- The baby is distressed,
- The baby is in an abnormal position, or
- Labor is prolonged.
In order to warrant a C-section, the circumstances must pose a risk to the mother or the baby if the birth were to proceed through vaginal delivery.
C-Sections Save Lives
When medically necessary, C-sections save lives. This is virtually undisputed. In fact, the Director of WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research has stated that the evidence regarding medically-necessary C-section rates, “highlight[s] the value of caesarean section in saving the lives of mothers and newborns.” In emergency circumstances, a C-section may be the only way to ensure that the mother and child survive the delivery without permanent disabilities or injuries.
However, when not medically necessary, C-sections can put both mother and baby at increased risk for significant complications. As a result, WHO advocates strongly for restricting C-section births to only those situations where the risks of vaginal birth outweigh the risks of this surgical procedure. The risks associated with C-sections include:
For the Baby
- Heightened risk of transient tachypnea, respiratory distress syndrome, and other breathing problems
- Surgical injuries
For the Mother
- Blood clots, which can lead to pulmonary embolism
- Increased bleeding
- Infections and inflammation
- Increased risks during future pregnancies, including uterine rupture
- Surgical injuries
Many of these complications can lead to long-term disabilities, and in the worst of circumstances can be fatal.
Why do Doctors Perform C-Sections that Are Not Medically Necessary?
If the risks are so great, why do doctors perform C-sections that are not medically necessary? One of the most common explanations is that doctors view ordering a C-section as the safest option when it comes to malpractice liability. While unnecessary C-sections can actually put patients at increased risk for the complications listed above, the general consensus is that a doctor is much more likely to get sued for failing to order a C-section than for ordering one unnecessarily.
Other commonly-cited reasons include the increased costs associated with performing a C-section, desire to open up a bed for another patient, and misdiagnosis of risks during labor.
Unnecessary C-Sections, C-Section Errors, and Medical Malpractice
When a doctor orders an unnecessary C-section that leads to complications for the mother or child – or when a physician makes mistakes during the C-section procedure – the doctor can be held liable for medical malpractice. The attorneys at BirthInjuryJustice.org regularly represent clients who have suffered lasting injuries and lost loved ones due to C-section errors. If you recently gave birth through C-section and have questions about your procedure, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation.
C-section errors can lead to a lifetime of medical bills, emotional trauma, physical limitations, and other consequences. To learn more about the remedies available for C-section errors in Ohio, contact BirthInjuryJustice.org today.