Anesthesia Errors and Birth Injuries

Pre oxygenation of a mother for childbirth before anesthesiaAnesthetics and analgesics are very effective substances to alleviate pain of all kinds. And perhaps, one of the most physically painful circumstances for any woman is when she gives birth to a child. In instances when the mother cannot bear the pain, anesthesia can be used.

But the questions remain: are these anesthetics and analgesics safe for the baby? Will it result in some birth injuries? Let’s find out.

The Use of Anesthesia in Childbirth

In childbirth, the two main types of pain-relieving drugs are analgesics and anesthetics. Analgesics are drugs that numb out the pain without totally eliminating all sensations. Because of this, they are administered to mothers with normal vaginal delivery. They are usually administered via epidural or spinal block.

Anesthetics, on the other hand, totally removes all sensations and feeling from the mother. They can even result in unconsciousness, allowing a mother undergoing a C-section to deliver the baby without experiencing much pain. Just like analgesics, they are administered through the epidural or spinal block.

Epidural blocks are somewhat safer, as they are indirectly deposited in the nervous system. On the other hand, the spinal route is more effective as it is directly deposited in the cerebrospinal fluid.

Common Analgesic and Anesthetic Used for Labor and Delivery

To familiarize yourself with the common pain-relieving drugs used for labor and delivery, here are six of them:

  • Lidocaine
  • Bupivacaine
  • Ropivacaine
  • 2-chloroprocaine
  • Procaine
  • Tetracaine

Complications Associated with Anesthetics and Analgesics during Childbirth

While they are effective in reducing and eliminating the pain felt by the mother, these drugs definitely have side effects that can affect both the mother and child. Here are common complications that these drugs do:

  • Maternal hypotension

Also known as hypotensive crisis, it happens when the mother’s blood pressure drastically drops. This issue can be further exaggerated by the fact that mothers have to lay down during childbirth. Prolonged maternal hypotension can then lead to nausea, vomiting, fetal acidosis, and a low APGAR score.

Constant monitoring of the mother’s vital signs, repositioning the mother, and using a vasopressor can help reduce the risks of maternal hypotension. Likewise, the baby should be properly monitored, making sure that it has a stable heart rate and supply of oxygen.

  • Abnormal uterine contractions

It also happens as a result of taking anesthesia. Anesthetics have side effects on anyone’s muscles, potentially weakening and relaxing them. It is a complication for mothers in labor as, of course, they must contract their uterus for the child to be born.

Doctors may prescribe Pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, to help increase uterine contractions. However, these drugs may overwork its effect, keeping the mother’s uterine contractions hyper-stimulated. Such may result in fetal distress, uterine rupture, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, and even death for the child.

  • Heart problems

Heart problems are also a result of analgesic use. In particular, mothers may experience bradycardia or abnormal slowing of the heart. Also, the mother may experience heart block, which may lead to cardiac arrest. In the same way, mothers can experience a form of respiratory arrest. They may experience difficulty in breathing.

Errors and Medical Malpractice in the Use of Anesthetics in Childbirth

Sometimes, mothers are not adequately informed about the risks of using anesthetics during labor and delivery. If this is the case, then the doctor did not obtain the mother’s informed consent. In medico-legal practice, not getting informed consent is a form of medical malpractice.

Further, the following are other cases of medical malpractice that are common to see in the delivery room:

  • The attending physician fails to properly administer the drugs, as well as monitor both the mother and baby closely.
  • The attending physician fails to coordinate a skilled team composed of an anesthesiologist, nurse, and other necessary health professionals.
  • The attending medical team fails to communicate effectively with each other during delivery and labor.
  • The attending health professional failure to monitor the heart rate of both the mother and child.
  • The attending physician fails to do an emergency C-section when the baby is in distress.

Once these forms of medical malpractices occur, both the mother and child may suffer injury. Some injuries may be short-lived; some can last throughout their life. For instance, the child can incur a permanent medical condition, such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy.

Birth Injury Attorneys helping Children Harmed by Anesthesia Errors

Your child may be diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), Cerebral Palsy, Kernicterus, Klumpke’s Palsy or other birth conditions as a result of medical malpractice. If you suspect that the medical practitioners did misuse analgesics and anesthetics, you could file a legal complaint.

We recommend reaching out to experienced attorneys at The Clark Law Office to help you settle your case. We can help determine the cause of your child’s defects, and if needed, help you get the compensation you and your child needs.

We have been operating in Okemos and Lansing, MI for decades, helping dozens of birth injury victims as a result of medical malpractice. Contact us today for a free consultation on your birth injury case!


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