Cesarean section is a method of surgically delivering a baby, which is performed either in response to a complication during a vaginal delivery or planned out in advance due to certain unusual circumstances of the pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of American women delivered their babies by C-section in 2011. That is up from five percent back in 1970.
Typically, the decision to perform a C-section in the course of a vaginal delivery is a matter of emergency. When a C-section is planned in advance, it is more often a question of discretion. According to a recent Consumer Reports article, many doctors may be overusing the procedure, particularly at certain hospitals across the nation.
Part of the reason this is concerning is that C-section deliveries come with certain risks that vaginal deliveries do not. These risks, according to the Mayo Clinic, include increased bleeding, anesthesia reactions and inflammation for the mother, as well as surgical injury and breathing problems for the baby. C-sections can also increase the risks involved in future pregnancies. For women who already have risks going into a delivery, these risks may be worth taking, but for low risk, healthy women, C-section delivery may be overall more risky, and therefore inappropriate.
One of the reasons doctors may choose to perform a surgical delivery is to avoid malpractice liability. Ironic, then, is the consideration that a doctor may be opening himself or herself up to potential liability by performing an unnecessary procedure on a woman who is healthy and low-risk.
Not all women who have been harmed by an unnecessary C-section are going to be able to pursue medical malpractice litigation, for a variety of reasons, legal, financial, and otherwise. Those who have been seriously harmed by a doctor’s poor judgment, though, should at least consider consulting an experienced medical malpractice attorney to have their case evaluated.
Source: TIME, “The Hospitals Most Likely to Give You a C-Section, Ranked,” Alice Park, May 8, 2014.