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The truth about maternal birth injuries

Oregon law requires any plaintiff to satisfy certain requirements during the course of a medical malpractice case, and those involving birth injuries are no exception. In particular, one must prove that an injury has occurred. However, silence and corresponding ignorance regarding preventable birth injury provides an environment in which mothers abandon their potentially successful malpractice complaints before taking the first steps towards retrieval of damages caused.

An editorial investigation by Mother Jones illustrates just how frequent injuries to the mother and their long-term consequences truly are. It also explains a culture of silence peculiar to many gynecological practices. While laws might require doctors to explain certain risks, specifically when surgery is involved, this is rarely the case when it comes to discussing the possibility of long-term side effects of nonsurgical birth.

Regardless of the reticence to discuss side effects, the possibility of serious injury to the mother during operative birth appears to be well known in the medical community. Information readily available on the Mayo Clinic’s website discusses several possible maternal birth injuries, including tissue damage, loss of bowel control, back pain, anemia and prolapse.

The Mayo Clinic mentions that these injuries are associated with vaginal birth to a lesser degree than they are assisted birth. One might assume from this statement that birth carries some degree of physical risk, and therefore injury alone is not grounds for a medical malpractice suit. Proving the presence of injury is, however, one of the requirements for anyone who seeks recompense for the incompetence, omission or error of a negligent doctor or caregiver.