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What to Know about Maternal Pelvic Fractures During Childbirth

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Are You a Mother who Suffered a Fractured Pelvis During Birth? Learn More About How these Injuries Occur, Possible Signs of Negligence, and Your Rights if Malpractice Contributed to Your Pelvic Fracture

Childbirth injuries to birthing mothers occur for various reasons. Sometimes, mothers have pre-existing conditions that contribute to the injury, or something goes wrong with labor or delivery. However, a pelvic fracture is not typically a childbirth injury unless something goes wrong. Only a tiny percentage of pelvic fractures occur during childbirth so you may suspect an error with such a rare occurrence. If you endured a painful pelvic fracture delivering your baby, contact our team of New Jersey maternal birth injury attorneys to discuss whether your pelvic fracture was the result of negligence and your rights to pursue compensation when these instances occur. You can call 866-708-8617 or fill out our contact form to request a free consultation.

A Guide to The Anatomy of the Pelvic Bones

The pelvis is a crucial link connecting the spine and legs, allowing humans to walk. The ring of bones constituting the pelvis are the two hip bones joined together at the symphysis front and sacrum backways. Each hip bone consists of the ilium, which are wing-like structures that fan out the entire width of the hips; the ischium, which forms the bottom and back of the ring for sitting on; and the pubis, located in the front. Thick ligaments connect the three bones, so the pelvis remains a reinforced and protective shelter for critical organs, nerves, and arteries running from the heart to the legs.

How do Pelvic Fractures Occur During Birth?

A woman’s body prepares for childbirth through a well-timed release of hormones that allows the cervix to soften and open so the baby can leave the uterus and travel down the birth canal. The same hormone, relaxin, allows the pelvic bones to loosen. The combination of loose pelvic bones and the powerful force of the baby’s head making its way down the birth canal may cause a fracture. A break may occur in any part or several parts of the pelvis.

Risk Factors for a Fractured Pelvis in Childbirth

Those most at risk for a pelvic fracture include women with osteopenia (the preliminary stage of osteoporosis) or osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease that makes the bones brittle or fragile. Other factors contributing to a pelvic fracture are large babies disproportionate to the birthing woman’s pelvis, a quick delivery, previous pelvic fractures, and spinal deformations, such as a deeply curved spine in the lumbar (lower spine) region.

Other factors contributing to pelvic fractures in childbirth include vacuum-assisted deliveries and epidurals. Quick and violent movement of the baby’s head with birth instruments can damage the pelvis. Also, shoulder dystocia, which occurs when a baby’s shoulder gets stuck in the mother’s pubic symphysis, can damage the pelvis and the baby’s shoulder. However, any limb that gets hyperextended as the baby is squeezed down the birth canal can damage the pelvis and the limb.

Proactive Measures to Prevent Pelvic Fracture During Delivery

Any one of these conditions may alert an obstetrician that a C-section birth may protect the pelvis from a potential fracture. Allowing a vaginal birth to occur may place an at-risk mother in danger, since a c-section may not preserve the pelvis after labor starts. The only way to prevent a fracture is by a scheduled cesarean section before the onset of labor. However, once labor begins, a cesarean section may be necessary to deliver a large baby or one stuck in the pelvis with shoulder dystocia. An obstetrician should avoid using birth instruments unless necessary.

Responding to a Maternal Pelvic Fracture During Labor

Finally, should a fracture occur, an obstetrician must act quickly as trauma to the mother, including bleeding from the fracture, can cause fetal distress, requiring an immediate cesarean section. Additionally, the fracture may need immediate repair to avoid future postural problems, arthritis, chronic pain, and urinary and rectal dysfunction.

What Makes a Valid Malpractice Claim for a Fractured Pelvis During Birth?

Pelvic fracture prevention begins with a physician competently addressing factors that place a woman in danger of injury. A physician who does not anticipate childbirth problems requiring c-section planning may be found negligent if the mother and/or the baby suffer serious injury. Doctors owe their patients a duty to provide medical care up to the practice standards that apply to all medical professionals in the same specialty when presented with the same circumstances.

As such, when other obstetricians would perform a cesarean section birth because a baby is too large or stuck in the pelvis, but your doctor did not, resulting in a broken pelvis, you may have a medical malpractice claim. When you can show that the doctor breached the duty they owed to you, causing a pelvic fracture, which resulted in damages, you can sue them for medical malpractice. In these cases, you may be able to recover compensation for the medical expenses, pain and suffering, wage losses, necessary rehabilitative care, and other losses directly caused by their negligence.

When filing a claim for a fractured pelvis due to medical malpractice before, during, or after birth, you will need the substantiation of a medical expert to prove negligence. They can establish the standard of care for obstetricians faced with similar circumstances and how your doctor failed to act by the standard of care. An expert is necessary to establish the essential legal elements of a birth malpractice claim, but also to counter any defense allegations that the pelvic fracture occurred for other reasons not associated with negligence.

Obtaining Compensation for Your Childbirth-Related Pelvic Fracture

Once you establish a breach of duty that caused the pelvic injury and resulting damages, you can obtain compensation for your financial, physical, and psychological losses. Proof of your damages in the form of medical records and billing documents, pharmacy receipts, paycheck stubs, and testimony from witnesses, among other documents, photos, laboratory reports, and discovery responses, can be gathered and used by our birth injury lawyers to ensure that you receive all of the compensation you are entitled to.

Get Help with Your Fractured Pelvis Case from our New Jersey Attorneys

If you are a mother who experienced a fractured pelvis during birth due to negligent medical care, a successful legal claim can provide for your essential medical and therapeutic needs and many other tangible and intangible losses resulting from your injury. Our medical malpractice lawyers have a wealth of knowledge in this unique realm of law, as we regularly assist victims with complex pregnancy and childbirth-related legal actions against healthcare providers who fail to meet the acceptable standards of care.

From locating, vetting, and preparing the appropriate medical experts, to presenting complicated evidence at a trial, our attorneys have the unique skills necessary to understand, investigate, and handle each step in the legal process of your medical malpractice action after a pelvic fracture. We are available to provide a free review of your case and the answers you need to move forward with confidence. To discuss your case involving a fractured pelvis in childbirth, contact us at 866-708-8617.

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