A new study investigating maternal complications during delivery found that there was a significant increase in delivery complications during specific periods of the day and week. Researchers discovered that the risk to mothers giving birth may be higher or lower, depending on when the delivery occurs. As a pregnant woman or someone with a loved one soon to give birth, the idea that the quality of their medical care is affected by something as seemingly negligible as the night shift? It’s a hard pill to swallow.
What is a Maternal Complication?
A maternal complication refers to any medical condition or issue that an expectant mother experiences during pregnancy or labor and delivery. Maternal health problems can occur before pregnancy, during pregnancy, while in labor, during delivery, or immediately after giving birth. Some maternal conditions present with recognizable symptoms, while others may go unnoticed until severe complications occur. Similarly, complications range in severity. Some may be easily addressed with appropriate medication, while others can lead to catastrophic injury or even death.
Some examples of maternal complications include:
- Ectopic pregnancy: the fertilized egg becomes implanted outside of the woman’s uterus, usually in the fallopian tube
- High blood pressure: also known as preeclampsia or hypertension
- Gestational diabetes: diabetes while pregnant
- Ruptured uterus
- Amniotic fluid embolism: occurs when a small amount of amniotic fluid enters the bloodstream and travels to the woman’s lungs
- Postpartum hemorrhage: uterine bleeding after delivery
- Brain aneurysm: stroke that may occur after giving birth, often due to unmanaged high blood pressure
Investigating Risk to a Mother’s Health during Delivery
The aforementioned study, published in the international journal Risk Analysis, sought to determine the situational factors within hospitals that contribute to higher risk of maternal complications during delivery. Researchers examined more than 2 million births that occurred between 2005 and 2010, using tests to assess the quality of maternal medical care based on the hours, days, and months of the year.
The study controlled for a number of variables, including maternal age, period of gestation, race, level of education, congenital abnormalities, and other risk factors to the mother and child during delivery. The specific maternal complications included in the analysis were as follows: ruptured uterus, severe perineal laceration, admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), unintended hysterectomy, and unplanned surgery or medical procedure performed after giving birth. Among the 2 million births included in the sample size, 21,000 women experienced at least one of these complications.
The purpose of the research was to assess the extent to which work shifts, hours worked within shifts, weekends, holidays, and specific times during the year influence outcomes of labor and delivery. The results demonstrated a significant relationship between deliveries during non-standard hours and a higher risk for maternal health complications.
When Maternal Complications are more Likely to Happen
Specifically, the study discovered that the rate of complications spiked dramatically during certain shifts. When compared with daytime deliveries during the week, the risk for complications rose:
- 21% during night time deliveries
- 9% during deliveries on the weekends; and
- 29% during deliveries on holidays
Additionally, it showed that the risk for complications to the mother increased 28% during the month of July, the time of year when residents begin training in teaching hospitals. There was also a negative impact on maternal outcomes for each additional hour worked by hospital personnel. In other words, the longer the doctors and nurses had been working, the less quality the care received by the mother giving birth.
Contact a New Jersey Maternal Complications Attorney if You Suffered Harm during Childbirth
Maternal complications can occur for any number of reasons and unfortunately, medical negligence may play a role. When a doctor has been working too many hours, an understaffed hospital fails to provide adequate care to a mother during busy days, the nurses and medical personnel fail to continuously monitor a woman in labor, or other medical mistakes lead to complications for a mom during delivery, victims and their families have rights.
If you or a loved one suffered complications while delivering a child in New Jersey, it is vital to seek legal counsel. Our experienced maternal complications attorneys will listen to your unique situation and discuss your potential to obtain compensation. Call 866-708-8617 or reach out online to arrange a free case evaluation.
- Clinical Capital and the Risk of Maternal Labor and Delivery Complications: Hospital Scheduling, Timing, and Cohort Turnover Effects, Zahran, S et al., Risk Analysis
- Hospital and Time of Delivery May Affect Mother’s Health, New York Times
- Understanding Labor and Delivery Complications , WebMD
- How Maternal Age Affects Premature Birth