Pregnancy, labor and delivery complications are not uncommon and usually are resolved without major repercussions. However, some complications are serious or life-threatening. And they may be preventable. It is the doctor’s duty to recognize signs of distress during a birth and if you were let down by your medical team you have rights that an attorney can uphold.
If you believe that medical malpractice was the cause of your child’s injuries, you should seek legal counsel.
An Overview of Vasa Previa
One of the most serious complications that can be experienced during childbirth is vasa previa. This results when the umbilical cord or blood vessels in the placenta become trapped between the opening of the birth canal and the baby. If this condition is not detected by a doctor, it could result in the blood vessels rupturing during delivery.
Vasa previa is dangerous to the baby because it could diminish the oxygen they receive. A lack of oxygen can cause brain damage and other injuries. Another danger is if a blood vessel tears, the baby could die from hemorrhaging. This can occur during labor or delivery.
In some cases the blood vessels can become compressed, as the baby moves further down the birth canal. When this happens, the blood supply is diminished and it can result in the baby’s heart rate dropping.
Causes of Vasa Previa
This life-threatening medical condition can be caused by problems with the placenta. For instance the placenta may be low-lying, and result of scarring in the uterus. This scarring can occur when a woman has previously had a dilation and curettage or suffered a miscarriage.
If the placenta is abnormally formed it also poses a risk. Complications from placenta previa can also lead to vasa previa. The placenta should be located in the upper part of the uterus, but if it somehow becomes situated in the lower part, placenta previa results.
Other causes of vasa previa include velamentous cord insertion of the umbilical cord, multiple pregnancies (twins, triplet, etc.), and in-vitro fertilization. Unfortunately, this condition may not be detected until the blood vessel has ruptured.
Detection of the Condition
The greatest chance of saving the baby’s life happens before labor begins. Detection of this condition is vital, which can happen as early as the 16th week of pregnancy.
Although there aren’t any symptoms, an ultrasound could indicate a problem. If there is an indication that something is wrong, transvaginal sonography and color Doppler ultrasound could provide the final diagnosis.
Once a doctor has learned that vasa previa exists, efforts can be made to protect the baby. The mother may be hospitalized early and a C-section may be performed before labor ever begins.
Although an early delivery also carries risks, they aren’t as high as the risks of allowing labor to progress with vasa previa. When a doctor fails to detect this condition or doesn’t take appropriate steps to prevent serious complications, it could be a form of negligence.
Legal Issues Associated with Vasa Previa
If it turns out that your doctor, OB-GYN, or other medical professional should have caught the vasa previa before birth, but failed, this may be a form of medical negligence. Medical negligence can be a basis for a lawsuit against the medical provider for medical malpractice. These cases are notoriously complicated and expensive, but may offer a way for parent to get compensation for their losses.
To learn more about childbirth related injury claims, see our section on Childbirth Medical Malpractice.
To learn if you have the right to pursue a claim against your doctor as a result of medical malpractice, you will need to speak with an experienced attorney.