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Maternal Death

Illinois birth injury attorney for  death of the mother

Addressing the Causes of Pregnancy-Related Death Chicago Medical Negligence Lawyer

Even though thousands of children are born every day in the United States, childbirth still presents some risks to both mothers and children. During birth, a great deal of care is taken to protect infants from injury and address any health concerns that may arise. However, mothers are often not provided with the same level of care, and they may experience serious injuries or death because of complications that arise during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

Causes of Maternal Death

Over the last several decades, the rate of infant mortality has seen a huge drop as healthcare has improved. Unfortunately, the same is not true for mothers. In fact, between 2000 and 2014, the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased by 26%, and this rate is far higher in the U.S. than in any other developed country.

Pregnancy-related death can occur for a wide variety of reasons, including:

  • Post-partum hemorrhaging - Excessive blood loss can occur during or after delivery. This may be because of a traumatic birth that resulted in vaginal lacerations or uterine rupture, or due to complications during a Cesarean delivery. Hemorrhaging can lead to a dangerous decrease in blood pressure, and the subsequent organ failure or brain damage may be fatal.
  • Amniotic fluid embolism - In some cases, amniotic fluid or cells from the fetus may enter the mother's bloodstream, leading to a life-threatening reaction that may involve blood clotting in the lungs, respiratory failure, and severe hemorrhaging of blood.
  • Thrombotic pulmonary embolism - Blood clots may block blood flow in the lungs, leading to a lack of oxygen in the blood. This can cause brain damage, lung damage, and heart failure.
  • Preeclampsia - High blood pressure that occurs during pregnancy or after birth can be very dangerous for a mother, resulting in seizures, stroke, or organ failure.
  • Infections and sepsis - If a mother contracts an infectious disease during pregnancy or delivery, this can result in sepsis, in which the body's response to an infection causes inflammation and tissue damage. This can result in organ failure and death.
  • Medication errors - If drugs are administered at the wrong dosage during labor and delivery, this can cause serious or fatal harm to a mother. For example, Pitocin may be given to induce labor, but it can result in uterine rupture, water intoxication, cardiac arrhythmia, or subarachnoid hemorrhage. In addition, the wrong dosage of anesthesia, such as an epidural or spinal block, can cause dangerously low blood pressure.
  • Cardiovascular conditions - A mother may have an undiagnosed heart disease such as cardiomyopathy, or a heart condition may be acquired during or after pregnancy. Failure to diagnose and treat these conditions can lead to heart failure and death.
  • Normalization of deviance – When doctors or nurses fail to recognize the warning signs of life-threatening conditions, such as attributing complaints of pain or sickness to a woman being "dramatic" or having poor pain tolerance, devasting injuries can result.

Sadly, more than 60% of maternal deaths in the U.S. are considered preventable. While hospital staff is trained to respond quickly and effectively to any threats to an infant's health, doctors and nurses are not always prepared to address issues that may affect a mother during and after delivery. In many cases, maternal death occurs because providers fail to recognize conditions that threaten a mother's life and provide the necessary treatment in a timely fashion.

When a mother dies during or after childbirth, this not only robs her child of a lifetime of love and care, but it can have massive financial effects on a family. The child's other parent will likely struggle to address the expenses related to raising and caring for the child, as well as the significant costs of the medical treatment received. Many families may be unsure of where to turn for financial help. At the Birth Injury Law Alliance, we are dedicated to helping families who have experienced losses during childbirth, and we can help you understand your options for receiving assistance. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation, contact our office at 312-945-1300.

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