Birth Injury Rates Decline; Safety Measures Still Inadequate

ultrasound pregnant woman

Over the past few decades, numerous reports and studies have highlighted the alarming prevalence of birth injuries in the U.S., along with unacceptable infant mortality and maternal mortality rates. The most recent report to document these serious concerns is one released by Public Citizen, an independent watchdog organization that serves as a consumer advocate. According to Public Citizen, hospitals that have implemented new safety measures have demonstrated marked improvements in birth injury rates, yet the obstetrical outcome in hospitals that have not adopted the improvements is still dismal.

Like most parents, the New York birth injury lawyers at The Sanders Firm believe that even one preventable birth injury is one too many. While improvements in hospital safety protocols are certainly good news, failure to implement nationwide practices is simply unacceptable when children’s lives are on the line. Our NY medical malpractice attorneys strive to empower parents by providing them with the legal resources they need to make informed decisions.

Efforts to lower birth injury rates

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine estimated that between 44,000 and 98,000 patients in the U.S. are killed each year after suffering the effects of preventable medical mistakes – including expectant mothers and their children. In fact, about 25,000 children never see their first birthday because of medical negligence in the obstetrics ward.

During the last 15 years, healthcare quality specialists and other experts have developed a set of initiatives aimed at reducing this appalling infant mortality rate. It was discovered that in about 65 percent of cases involving birth injuries, poor communication among healthcare providers played a role. One safety initiative is to improve communication skills by encouraging employees to voice their concerns about unsafe situations. Secondly, hospitals are urged to bundle essential practices for physicians to follow in high-risk situations. And thirdly, healthcare experts are calling for reductions in the rate of unnecessary C-sections.

Public Citizen surveyed four major healthcare organizations, including Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), to evaluate the results of these initiatives. Their report indicates that improved safety measures have significantly lowered birth injury rates.

Non-adopting hospitals place maternal, fetal health at risk

Although the findings of the Public Citizen survey are promising, far too many children and mothers are still at risk. There is no nationwide requirement to adopt these safety practices and at hospitals without them, birth injury rates are still unacceptably high. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) used the word “variable” to describe the implementation of safety practices.

In supporting its claim regarding non-adopting hospitals, the Public Citizen report states: “…experts agree that implementation of recommended safety practices is not comprehensive. The highly varying use of cesareans and the rise in the past two decades of early elective deliveries support a conclusion that the obstetrics profession’s adherence to standards has been inconsistent.”

Public Citizen went on to note that when hospitals fail to aggressively pursue higher safety standards, “otherwise avoidable tragic events are likely continuing to occur.” For affected families, their only means of recourse may be to file a birth injury lawsuit.

Legal recourse for birth injury victims

With over 45 years fighting for the rights of medical malpractice victims, our New York birth injury lawyers have the resources and the legal know-how needed to demand justice on behalf of your family. During your free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys, we’ll discuss the merits of your case and give you all the information you need to decide whether to move forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Although it is impossible to put a price on the health of your child, a jury award or settlement can help you meet his or her needs for a lifetime. Residents throughout Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island can call us at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY. Resources

  1. Public Citizen, Safety Initiatives Have Dramatically Reduced Harms During Childbirth But Are Unevenly Implemented,
  2. Merck Manuals, Birth Injury,