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The Effect of Malpractice Reform on Emergency Department Care

Negligent prenatal care. If negligent medical treatment is provided during the pregnancy, it could harm the fetus or the mother (or both). Some examples of negligent prenatal care include the physician or obstetrician’s:

  • failure to diagnose a medical condition of the mother, such as preeclampsia, Rh incompatibility, hypoglycemia, anemia, or gestational diabetes
  • failure to identify birth defects
  • failure to identify ectopic pregnancies, or
  • failure to diagnose a disease that could be contagious to the mother’s fetus (such as genital herpes or neonatal lupus)

Negligence during childbirth. A doctor’s negligence during childbirth could cause injury to the baby and harm to the mother. Common medical errors during childbirth include the physician or obstetrician’s:

  • failure to anticipate birth complications due to the baby’s large size or because the umbilical cord got tangled
  • failure to respond to signs of fetal distress
  • failure to order a cesarean section when one was appropriate, or
  • incompetent use of forceps or a vacuum extractor.

(To learn more about birth injuries, see Nolo’s article Birth-Related Medicalcare