Is a Retained Placenta After Birth Medical Malpractice? Our Lawyer Explains
There are three stages of labor. The first stage includes early and active labor, the second stage involves the delivery of the baby, while the third stage of labor is the delivery of the placenta. Many people do not think about the third stage of labor and instead think about the delivery of the baby as the final stage. However, the third stage (delivery of the placenta), is a vital stage and if it is missed or improperly handled, it can lead to serious complications, including wrongful death if it is not managed properly. Yes, a retained placenta after birth can result in very serious personal injuries to the mother due to medical malpractice.
This is because, when the delivery of the placenta is not performed, or has difficulty with the delivery of the placenta, it is referred to as a retained placenta which can be a medical emergency. Proper management of a retained placenta is vital as failure to deliver the placenta properly is considered to be medical malpractice if a mother suffers harm or even wrongful death. Physicians such as the primary care doctor, OB/GYN, nurses, or other healthcare staff could all be responsible for a retained placenta that causes a mother serious personal injuries.
If you or your loved one suffered significant personal injuries, or if your loved one was wrongfully killed, when a healthcare provider failed to take care of a retained placenta after birth, call our medical malpractice lawyer at CK Legal in Oregon and Minnesota to learn about your rights to compensation.
Stages of Labor
As mentioned above, the first stage of labor involves early labor as the cervix begins to dilate, but the mother experiences irregular contractions. As it progresses, the mother enters the active phase of labor when she has dilated to 6cm and contractions are irregular. The early stage of labor and the active stage of labor can last anywhere from a few hours to several hours, depending on the mother and also how many prior births the mother has had.
The second stage of labor refers to the delivery of the baby. This stage of labor is quicker than the first stage, but timing can vary. Some mothers are able to deliver the baby in a matter of a few minutes, while others may have to push for a few hours before the baby is delivered.
Once the baby is delivery, the mother then enters the final stage of labor which is delivery of the placenta. Delivery of the placenta usually occurs within 5 to 30 minutes after the baby is delivered. Once 30 minutes has passed and the placenta has not yet been delivered, the mother is considered to have a retained placenta.
Retained Placenta Explained
Delivery of the placenta as mentioned above is vital in preventing severe complications from developing. In normal circumstances, the placenta naturally detaches on its own and is delivered from the uterus. However, when the placenta fails to detach and be delivered within 30 minutes after the delivery of the baby, it is referred to as a retained placenta. Sometimes, an entire placenta is retained while other times, only part of a placenta is retained. Both can pose serious risks to the mother. The entire placenta must be delivered. If a physician fails to deliver the entire placenta, it is considered to be medical malpractice.
Classification of a Retained Placenta
There are three different types of retained placentas. Certain types of retainment can cause more serious complications than other types. Common types of retained placentas include the following:
- Placenta adherens – This type of retained placenta is the most common type of retained placenta. The cause of this is due to insufficient contractions creating the inability to deliver the placenta, causing the placenta to remain attached to the uterine wall
- Trapped placenta – This type of placenta also occurs when the placenta does not leave the uterus. However, it does detach from the uterine wall. The common cause of the placenta being retained in this instance is the cervix closing before the placenta has been delivered
- Placenta accretas – This type of retained placenta is often the most serious, as it can cause severe bleeding and a very difficult delivery. Placenta accreta causes a retained placenta due to the placenta attaching too deeply in the wall of the uterus. In cases like this, the placenta requires surgical removal, or in severe cases a hysterectomy is required
Risk Factors for Retained Placenta
There are some risk factors that may place the mother at risk for retained placenta. These risks include the following:
- Prolonged use of oxytocin
- Mother who has had multiple births
- Preterm delivery
- Prior history of uterine surgery
- Use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) for conception
What Happens When a Physician Fails to Entirely Remove the Placenta?
When a physician fails to remove the placenta entirely, it can cause serious harm to the mother. Some complications are minor, while others are considered to be major. Examples of these complications include the following:
- Serious infection
- Surgical removal
- Hemorrhage (severe bleeding)
- Internal bleeding
- Blood transfusion
- Damage to the uterus
- Damage to the genital tract
- Sepsis, potentially leading to septic shock
Medical Malpractice Causing Serious Complications Due to Retained Placenta
While a retained placenta cannot necessarily be prevented, the way a physician or other healthcare provider chooses to treat a retained placenta is a matter of providing proper care or substandard care. Failing to remove the entire placenta is more rare, but failure to remove part of the placenta is more common. Approximately 2% of deliveries result in retained placenta, with a mortality rate of 10% in rural areas. As mentioned above, failing to remove a placenta entirely can pose serious risks, including wrongful death. Examples of medical malpractice regarding the management of retained placenta include the following:
- Failing to remove the entire placenta
- Failing to remove part of the placenta
- Delay in initiating oxytocin to induce contractions for delivery of the placenta if the placenta is not delivered on its own
- Failing to prescribe antibiotics if a mother gets an infection from a retained placenta
- Failing to perform a surgical procedure to remove a retained placenta
- Failing to perform proper diagnostic testing to ensure that the entire placenta has been removed if there is suspicion that part of the placenta was retained
- Any serious complications that result from the mismanagement of retained placenta
Victims Who Suffered Serious Injuries or Death From a Retained Placenta After Birth Need to Call Us Right Now
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form. We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.
Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles, St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.
We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.