By Giles Manley, M.D.
It happens thousands of times a year in U.S. hospitals: a healthy pregnancy turns into a nightmare during labor and delivery with the birth of a brain-injured child. Although many birth injuries are the result of circumstances beyond anyone’s control, others are preventable.
As a board-certified obstetrician for more than 20 years, and now as an attorney who represents children with preventable brain injury, I have compiled what I call a “prevention checklist” for expectant parents.
This information is critical to your baby’s safety during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Armed with knowledge about potential problems and standards of care, you’ll be able to insist on appropriate actions from your doctor and hospital staff.
Choose a birthing advocate, either the unborn child’s father or another birthing partner, who is prepared to buttonhole physicians, medical staff and hospital personnel to demand answers and action.
Ask your prospective obstetrician how often he or she is in the hospital and who covers for them when they’re not available. Learn all you can about your backup physician as well as your primary doctor. Your local medical board can tell you if the doctor has lawsuits pending. If there are three or more, look further into the circumstances.
Choose a hospital with a 24-hour, in-house anesthesia team. If you choose a midwife, make sure your birth will be in a hospital and not a birthing center. This ensures you have immediate access to an operating room in case an emergency C-section is necessary.
The following information applies to healthy, normal pregnancy only. Women with complicated pregnancies require additional monitoring and testing that are not covered here.
The above has been excerpted from Secrets to Safer Childbirth: Preventing Medical Errors in Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery. Be sure to check future issues for parts two through four of this four-part series.
Giles Manley, M.D. is Medical Director of the CP Family Network. If you have questions about whether standards of care were followed during your pregnancy and delivery, you may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.