Everything you need to know about obstetric malpractice

Everything You Need to Know About Obstetric Malpractice

In Canada, there are 368,792 babies born annually. According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 25 babies is born annually with a congenital disability (also known as a birth defect). While this can occur for various reasons, some are caused by medical negligence.

In this article, we will outline everything you need to know about obstetric malpractice, including where to go for help.

Obstetrical Malpractice Defined

Obstetrics is a medical branch relating to childbirth and pregnancy, and extends to the post-partum period. It can even extend to care provided while seeking fertility treatments and becoming pregnant. 

An obstetrician must provide quality medical care throughout the duration of the pregnancy, including labour and delivery. Obstetrical malpractice relates to negligence or errors during this time frame. 

The Types of Obstetrical Malpractice

This type of malpractice occurs in different settings ranging from obstetricians’ offices to clinics, operating rooms, during delivery, and in emergency rooms. If there is a failure to conduct the required prenatal testing, properly monitor pregnancies, or correctly conduct a woman’s labour and delivery, serious injuries can ensue. 

Instances can include:

  • Improper usage of tools to assist birth

  • Incorrect administration of treatments or medications

  • Not detecting, monitoring, or treating maternal infections

  • Giving inaccurate advice to the pregnant mother

  • Not identifying or treating prolapsed umbilical cords

  • Errors in anesthesia

  • Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis

  • Surgical negligence while conducting a Cesarean section

The Causes of Birth Injuries

Some possible causes of birth injuries can be a failure to monitor the pregnancy by not managing high-risk situations, not correctly diagnosing a high-risk condition, and providing an improper diagnosis. 

Injuries can also result from not properly monitoring the individual or the fetus, not providing adequate care and attention during labour & delivery, not noting/acting upon a case of fetal distress, delayed Cesarean section, or obstructed labour. 

Injuries Resulting From Obstetrical Negligence

Any errors can result in lifelong consequences. Serious injuries in newborns can result in mental and physical development challenges. Some may need lifelong support and care. Common injuries include:

  • Birth asphyxia: Injuries occur when the newborn’s brain is oxygen-deprived. This results when there are issues with the umbilical cord, abnormal birth presentation, maternal bleeding, etc. It may cause brain damage, epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, and other disabilities. 

  • Lacerations, broken/fractured bones, and bruises: These injuries can result from mishandling tools that assist in birthing or the baby being twisted during delivery.

  • Brachial plexus injuries: These are injuries incurred to the area of nerves controlling sensation and movement in the hands and arms. They are caused by womb compression or compression during delivery. It can lead to Erb’s Palsy (loss of motion/weakness in arms), reduced balance, Klumpke’s Palsy (loss of movement/weakness in forearms, fingers, and hands), coordination issues, joint dysfunctions, limb length discrepancy, and impairments in bone growth. 

Other injuries may result, including the following:

  • Speech problems

  • Infections

  • Blindness

  • Cardio-pulmonary disorders

  • Paralysis

  • Scoliosis

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Intellectual delays

  • Learning disabilities

  • ADHD-like symptoms

Some injuries may be apparent at birth. However, most don’t show up until later in the child’s development. Parents are seldom told that their child’s injuries or permanent disabilities could have been generated by medical malpractice. 

Filing Malpractice Claims

If you think you have been an obstetrical malpractice victim, you should consider hiring an obstetrical malpractice lawyer. You might be entitled to compensation if the birth trauma resulted from negligence or a preventable mistake. 

Birth trauma lawsuits can involve many factors and can be highly complex. When filing your claim, you will need the support of an experienced legal team with an understanding of this legal area. To protect your child’s rights and your rights, you must speak to a qualified professional quickly if you think the injury sustained was a result of medical negligence. 

For your claim to succeed, you must prove that your healthcare provider’s care was below the acceptable standard. Medical malpractice hinges on proving that another provider would have acted differently or wouldn’t have made the error. 

Mistakes and omissions can innocently occur. While unfortunate, not all can be classified as negligence or omission. To be classified as malpractice, the burden of proof results in establishing the following:

  • Not receiving a reasonable quality of care at any point in the pregnancy through to the postpartum period

  • Delayed delivery

  • Failure or delay in recognizing fetal distress or warnings of fetal distress

  • Improper assessments of the child or mother

  • Not using forceps or medical tools properly

  • Demonstrable damages were incurred because of negligence

  • A failure to provide a reasonable duty of care

  • The results were foreseeable

Often, minor birth injuries heal over time. However, extensive injuries can require medical treatment, which can be costly. Serious injuries can cause lifelong disabilities in a child, which they would not have experienced otherwise. 

Furthermore, in addition to physical challenges with the child, parents can suffer financial hardship from the costs of therapy, constant supervision, and care. Parents who previously worked full-time may be only able to work part-time or not at all because their child requires continuous care. 

Sometimes, children require mobility devices and expensive medical care. A care worker may need to be hired to provide further assistance. Parents of children who are disabled permanently may exhibit concerns about how the child is cared for after their death.

Who Should I Contact for Obstetrical Malpractice?

At Sommers Roth & Elmaleh, we are recognized as Canada’s leading medical malpractice law firm. We consider this area as a sub-specialty of our overall practice. Our legal team has litigated numerous successful malpractice cases and has established ground-breaking precedents. Our law firm has been at the forefront of developments in this area.

We understand that you may be experiencing a financial burden due to obstetrical malpractice. Therefore, we have a contingency lawyer fee where you pay nothing until we win. We want to ensure that help is provided to people who need it.

To book your free consultation, call 1-844-414-0121 or contact us here. We will provide you with the highest quality legal representation for your case.

Disclaimer and Liability Exclusion

The information on this page is provided for general information purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice. It does not constitute legal or other professional advice or an opinion of any kind. Readers should seek specific legal advice regarding any specific legal issues. We do not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or quality of the information on this page. The posts on this page are current as of their original date of publication, but they should not be relied upon as timely, accurate or fit for any particular purpose.

Accessing or using this web site or the content herein does not create a lawyer-client relationship.

This page may contain links to third party web sites. We are unable to, and do not, monitor and guarantee the quality of the information disseminated and accessible through those links, which are provided for convenience only. We do not endorse the information contained in linked web sites nor guarantee its accuracy, timeliness or fitness for a particular purpose.

    If you have been affected by medical malpractice anywhere in Canada contact us for a free consultation.
    You pay us nothing unless we win.



    A lawyer from Sommers Roth & Elmaleh will be in touch with you as soon as possible. Please note that no lawyer-client, advisory, or fiduciary relationship is created by your inquiry. All information provided is confidential.

    The above information is not legal advice. Past results of cases and recoveries by our medical malpractice lawyers against hospitals, doctors, midwives, nurses and other healthcare professionals are not necessarily indicative of future results. The amounts recovered and other litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts in individual cases.


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