What is Placenta Previa?
Placenta previa is a potentially dangerous condition in pregnant women in which the placenta covers all (“complete” or “total” previa) or part (“marginal” or “partial” previa) of the opening to the cervix. This increases the risk of hemorrhagic bleeding during labor and delivery. It is usually detected by ultrasound, although sometimes maternal bleeding is the first sign. Once it is diagnosed, a mother must be treated in order to avoid a serious and potentially life-threatening situation for both her and her child.
The treatment that a mother receives depends on several factors like how far along she is, where the placenta is located, how much bleeding there is and how the baby and mother are doing. In mild cases, mothers are able to remain at home on bed rest and may be able to deliver vaginally. Deliveries are generally scheduled at 37 weeks gestation or sooner for best outcomes. More serious cases may require hospitalization and in the worst cases (where bleeding is persistent and heavy) the baby needs to be consistently monitored and delivered by emergency C-section right away.
But what if it an emergency C-section is not performed quickly enough? Or what if the medical professionals fail to diagnose and appropriately treat the previa? These situations are considered medical negligence.
Potential Harms to The Mother and Baby
In the most serious cases of placenta previa, if medical staff do not immediately undertake an emergency C-section, the mother can suffer hemorrhaging that may result in the need for multiple transfusions. Further, if medical staff cannot control bleeding during or after delivery, the uterus must be removed (hysterectomy).
The harm to a newborn baby is proportionally more severe. The blood volume of a baby is very low. Because the baby receives blood through the umbilical cord from the mother, if the mother hemorrhages, so does the baby. A fetal hemorrhage is extremely dangerous as the baby can go into hypovolemic shock (HVS), where the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the body and can cause organs to shut down. HVS can lead to fetal death or irreversible brain damage, including cerebral palsy and mental disabilities, due to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (birth asphyxia).
What To Do When Medical Negligence in Placenta Previa Cases Occurs
If you experienced placenta previa and your baby died or was severely injured, it may have been due to medical negligence. Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers can help you and your family. We will review your medical records and determine if your medical practitioner failed to diagnose the previa or failed to adhere to the standards of care related to placenta previa.
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