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Umbilical Cord Prolapse Birth Injury Claims

Published in Medical Malpractice on December 11, 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Umbilical cord prolapse is a dangerous condition that can occur during the birth process. Prolapse can lead to death or serious injury if it is not promptly diagnosed and treated. 

If a medical provider failed to appropriately monitor a child during birth, you might have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. 

What is Umbilical Cord Prolapse?

Umbilical cord prolapse is a rare condition that can occur while giving birth. Umbilical cord prolapse happens when the umbilical cord falls through the open cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby.

In this situation, there is a high risk of compression on the umbilical cord, which can sever the infant’s oxygen supply. There’s also a risk of the umbilical cord wrapping around the infant’s neck as it emerges through the birth canal.

Umbilical Cord Prolapse Injuries

Umbilical cord prolapse can be fatal. It can also cause a range of serious injuries, including:

  • Stillbirth
  • Brain damage
  • Low heart rate
  • Cerebral palsy

These are serious, life-altering conditions. Doctors should be aware of these risks so that they can monitor the child and their mother, responding promptly if prolapse is detected. 

How Does a Medical Provider Identify Umbilical Cord Prolapse?

During labor and delivery, the fetal heartbeat should be monitored. This ensures that medical personnel are aware of any changes to the infant’s heartbeat. Monitoring and responding to any signs of fetal distress is a crucial part of ensuring a safe delivery. 

In the time leading up to delivery, medical staff should also perform periodic pelvic examinations. These are a routine part of patient monitoring and can help to diagnose any abnormal developments as labor progresses. 

Sometimes, umbilical cord prolapse can occur before labor begins. Medical professionals should be aware of the risk factors for prolapse and monitor patients who exhibit a higher risk of developing the condition. 

Risk Factors for Prolapse

Risk factors related to umbilical cord prolapse include: 

  • Low fetal weight
  • Premature membrane rupture
  • Fetal malpresentation 
  • Polyhydramnios
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Previous high-risk pregnancies

Medical professionals should be aware of these risk factors and responsibly monitor fetal health and development. 

Responding to a Prolapse

If a pregnant woman or fetus presents multiple risk factors, extra precautions should be taken to ensure a healthy, full-term birth. 

Sometimes, the condition develops before labor begins. Knowing the risk and encouraging extra care, like regular ultrasounds to check the position of the umbilical cord, can help to detect the condition early. 

If umbilical cord prolapse occurs in a hospital setting, it should be addressed promptly by attending staff. A swift response is crucial to avoid stillbirth and injury to both the mother and fetus.

If the condition is detected, the attending doctor should quickly prepare for delivery via C-section if the condition is detected. This is the safest and fastest way to ensure that the infant will not suffer lasting damage due to a lack of oxygen. 

Sometimes, doctors will opt to try alternative treatments before resorting to a C-section. While alternatives might be less invasive than an emergency C-section, doctors run the risk of leaving the fetus with reduced oxygen and increased distress. 

In the event of prolapse, the priority should be to safely deliver the baby as quickly as possible. 

Can I File a Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you or your child suffered a birth injury due to umbilical cord prolapse, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice is a serious issue. In fact, it is a leading cause of death in the U.S.

Grounds for a medical malpractice claim might include:

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Late diagnosis
  • Delayed or inadequate response

If your doctor failed to identify the presence of umbilical cord prolapse despite warning signs or delayed measures to resolve the issue, they may be liable for the ensuing damages. 

Debilitating Injuries Deserve Compensation

A birth injury claim can result in compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, and mental anguish. 

Umbilical prolapse is a rare condition, but parents should be able to trust that their medical providers will reasonably and promptly respond. When this is not the case, a personal injury attorney in Boston can help you to hold them accountable for their negligence.

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