New parents living in Maryland may not know that on Jan. 14, an Oregon couple filed a $36 million medical malpractice lawsuit against a Portland hospital system, claiming a botched water birth caused their son's cerebral palsy. The boy was born in December 2011.
The lawsuit alleges that Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, which is part of the Legacy Health System, incorrectly told the plaintiffs that water births were less risky than traditional births. The suit also claims the boy's mother was wrongly told that she was a good candidate for a water birth when her son should have been delivered via C-section. The complaint also accuses the hospital of not having a supervising obstetrician overseeing midwives and nurses during delivery.
Water births have become more common in recent decades. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a joint opinion in 2014 stating that immersion in water in the early stages of labor may reduce delivery time and decrease pain. However, they concluded that water immersion in the later stages of labor may produce rare but serious complications in newborns, and the practice should be considered experimental.
The lawsuit seeks $23 million for the boy's current and future medical expenses, $10 million for his pain and suffering due to a brain injury and cerebral palsy and $3 million for his loss of future hearing capacity. The plaintiffs have also asked the judge to stop Legacy Health System from performing water births.
When medical errors happen during the delivery process, birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy and Erb's palsy, can occur. Any parent whose child has suffered a permanent disability due to medical malpractice during childbirth may wish to consult with an attorney. It may be possible to obtain a settlement that provides compensation for medical expenses and long-term care.
Source: The Republic, "Oregon parents seek $36 million in malpractice lawsuit over water birth", Steven Dubois , Jan. 15, 2015