Guest Blog May #2 – Wrongful Death and Maternal Death Rates
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “maternal mortality has historically been used as a key indicator of the health of a population.” Unfortunately, maternal mortality in the course of labor and delivery has been increasing, as have been the death rate for all populations for car accidents, including mothers. The premature loss of a mother is a great tragedy, resulting in long-term grief and emotional distress. Following is a medical malpractice lawyer’s perspective on wrongful death claims arising out of maternal death.
According to the National Vital Statistics Reports, the maternal mortality rate was approximately 20 deaths per 100,000 live births during the last time period studied. A mother’s death during labor and delivery is usually caused by bleeding complications or blood clots. Bleeding can occur in normal circumstances, but more commonly with placenta previa and placenta accreta. These placental abnormalities can result in severe hemorrhagic shock and death. Fatal hemorrhaging can also occur as a result of complications of a cesarean section (“c-section”), as with any surgical intervention.
Death resulting from blood clots can occur as well. The labor and delivery process initiates a clotting cascade that can cause overproduction of blood clots. The risk of injury is exacerbated in pregnant mothers due to weight gain and immobility. A c-section increases the risk of a fatal embolism. Blood clots typically begin in the lower extremities as deep vein thrombosis (“DVT”). As deep vein clots develop, new clot formations are unstable and may break free and travel through the circulatory system to the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism (“PE”). Symptoms of pulmonary embolism including shortness of breath and chest pain, along with abnormal vital signs.
Indirect obstetric deaths are those resulting from previous existing disease or disease that developed during pregnancy and which was not due to direct obstetric causes, but which was aggravated by the physiologic effects of pregnancy. Some such causes of maternal death include infection, preeclampsia, eclampsia, cardiomyopathy (i.e., heart attack).
Anytime a mother dies during the course of labor and delivery or immediately thereafter, a medical malpractice lawyer should be contacted to review the medical records. Loss of a mother is such a devastating development that a careful review of records is warranted to determine whether there was a delay in diagnosis or delay in treatment or improper treatment was delivered that fell below accepted standards of obstetrical care.
Likewise, a wrongful death lawsuit may arise out of car accidents that lead to the death of a mother. Under most state’s laws, surviving children can recover for mental anguish and emotional distress resulting in the death of a mother in an automobile accident. Contact a wrongful death lawyer in Cleveland, OH for information about your state’s wrongful death laws.
Thanks to Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. for their insight into personal injury claims and wrongful death.