There are many expectant mothers whose birth plans do not include the use of an epidural, but as their labor progresses, more than 50% of them eventually end up opting for it. Epidurals are known to ease the pain an expectant woman experiences during childbirth, allowing them to focus more on the birthing procedure, rather than the immense pain that they are experiencing. In most cases, epidurals are administered without a problem. But there are times that epidural errors may be made that could result in a medical malpractice case.
Understanding what an epidural is
An epidural is a type of local anesthetic that is given to expectant mothers in their spine at the time of childbirth in order to relieve their pain. The injection is designed so that the impulses in the lower part of the spine are numbed and the pain is significantly reduced. There are two types of epidurals:
Regular epidural, which is the most common kind, administered to an expectant mother in her lower back as she arches it. The injection usually contains an anesthetic and morphine.
Combined spinal-epidural (CSE), also known as a 'walking epidural', involves the injection of a narcotic and a starting dose of anesthetic beneath the spinal cord's membrane to allow for more flexibility.
Things that can go wrong with an epidural
Most women have a positive experience where epidurals are concerned. But for some women, they become a cause for concern when epidural errors occur. There are many factors on which a reaction to an epidural is based, such as how the doctor administered the injection, as well as the physiology of the woman's body (some women's bodies are more receptive to epidurals than others). It is important that a trained and qualified anesthesiologist closely monitor the administration of the drug so that epidural errors do not occur and dangerous drops in blood pressure are not caused. Epidural errors may also lead to:
- Difficulty in urinating
- Severe headaches
- Improper fetal positioning
- Permanent damage to the mother
- Respiratory problems in the infant
- Variability in the fetal heart rate
A study conducted in Boston revealed that epidural-related fevers could lead to respiratory problems, poor muscle tone, and seizures tone in babies. According to the studies, women who had an epidural-related fever were three times more likely to give birth to infants who required to be resuscitated.
The legal recourse for anesthesia errors
A medical malpractice lawyer can help you to establish liability in a case of negligence involving epidural errors and injuries caused by epidurals. Before filing a birth injury lawsuit against medical personnel, there are a few questions to address:
- Was the injury caused the action or inaction of a medical professional?
- If those actions hadn't taken place, would you have suffered the same injuries?
- Could your child's injury have been caused by some other factors?