Placenta previa is a relatively uncommon condition that affects around 1 in 200 pregnancies. With prompt treatment and the right care, doctors can make sure that placenta previa does not harm your unborn child, but serious injuries can occur. Learn more about the causes and complications of placenta previa, and find out how medical malpractice can lead to serious birth injuries.
What is placenta previa?
The placenta is a vital organ that attaches to the side or the top of the uterine wall during pregnancy. Your unborn baby receives the vital nutrients and oxygen he or she needs to survive during pregnancy from the placenta, but complications can occur.
In some pregnancies, the placenta attaches to the lower part of the uterus, covering the cervix, which is called placenta previa. The most common symptom is the sudden onset of vaginal bleeding, accompanied by stomach cramps. Some women experience mild, sporadic bleeding, while other pregnant moms must contend with heavy, uncontrollable bleeding.
How should a doctor treat placenta previa?
Your doctor cannot do anything to shift the placenta to the right place, so all treatment options focus on protecting you and your unborn baby. It's important to remember that placenta previa is potentially fatal for the unborn child or its mother.
Where the placenta previa only covers part of the cervix, normal delivery is often still possible. Your doctor may recommend lots of bed rest for the rest of your pregnancy, and close monitoring is also vital.
For complete placenta previa, it's normally necessary to deliver the baby straight away. Safe delivery is normally only possible through a C-section, and it may become necessary to deliver the baby preterm to protect his or her life. You may need blood transfusions to help you cope with excessive bleeding, and you may also need steroid shots to help the baby's lungs develop.
What are the possible complications that can arise?
Placenta previa can cause a number of complications. Preterm delivery will sometimes save the baby's life, but he or she may suffer an injury like cerebral palsy or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). HIE can lead to inhibited motor function, delayed growth and delayed development. Preterm babies also often suffer from breathing problems. Sadly, preterm birth is also the biggest contributor to infant mortality.
What mistakes do medical teams sometimes make?
Expectant moms rely on their medical team to help them look after their unborn baby throughout pregnancy and delivery. But with placental previa, doctors, obstetricians, nurses and gynecologists can make mistakes that jeopardize your unborn baby's life.
Medical mistakes that relate to placenta previa include:
- Failure to accurately diagnose the condition. Your medical team may not spot the early symptoms through an ultrasound scan.
- Failure to closely monitor high-risk moms. The condition is more common in women over the age of 35 or for moms expecting twins or triplets. Doctors should pay careful attention to these and other expectant moms.
- Dangerous examinations. If a doctor or obstetrician inserts any object to examine the vagina, he or she can severely worsen the symptoms of placenta previa.
- Delayed emergency C-section. If the medical team takes too long to deliver the baby, he or she may suffer an in injury in the womb.
- Failed vaginal delivery. Your medical team may decide to deliver the baby through the vagina, but this can present significant risks to your unborn child.
Of course, you may not immediately realize that a medical error has caused a birth injury. As such, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney to investigate the case for you.
When can you file a birth injury lawsuit?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to carry out his or her duties competently. To file a birth injury lawsuit for placenta previa, your attorney will need to show the court evidence that:
- You had a professional medical relationship with the doctor or nurse.
- The medical professional was negligent in some way.
- This negligence caused the birth injury.
- The birth injury harmed your child.
Demonstrating negligence is often the hardest part of a birth injury lawsuit. Your attorney will need to show the court how the doctor deviated from standard medical practice.
Placenta previa is a serious condition that can cause severe birth injuries. If you suffered from placenta previa and your baby has an injury, talk to a trained birth injury lawyer for information and advice.