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Informed Consent and Shared Decision Making for Labor and Delivery Decisions

Adult hand holding newborn baby hand

The birth of a baby is a magical time for all. Accordingly, the safety of the mother and the baby should be of the utmost importance for medical providers. When making decisions in regards to labor and delivery, the mother must give informed consent for any procedure or medication. This means that doctors and medical providers must fully explain all of the potential risks and benefits associated with a procedure or medication that they wish to give the mother. In addition, the major obstetrical society, ACOG, requires "shared decision making" between the physician and patient (i.e., informed consent is not just checking off a box or filling out a form).

One of the most common procedures in obstetrics is an induction of labor. Labor and delivery nurses and doctors induce labor by giving the mother medications such as oxytocin (brand name "Pitocin") to start uterine contractions, or make the contractions stronger. Inductions of labor and the high-alert medication of oxytocin/Pitocin are associated with countless risks for both the mother and the baby, including postpartum hemorrhage, uterine rupture, maternal or fetal death, neonatal seizures, fetal hypoxia, and permanent brain damage to the baby. For this reason, mothers deserve to fully understand and have the opportunity to discuss with a doctor the many risks of any labor and delivery procedure including induction.

If a mother or baby is injured or dies due to a procedure like labor induction for which there was no, or improper, informed consent or shared decision making, the hospital, doctors and/or nurses may be held responsible for damages through a medical malpractice lawsuit. The attorneys at Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP are experienced with the types of injuries that can arise from inductions such as brain injury (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE; cerebral palsy) , and may be able to get you compensation to help with the devastating economic, emotional, and physical effects of a serious birth injury. While no amount of money can make up for all of the the many consequences of an injury relating to labor and delivery negligence, money might help pay for the enormous past and future medical expenses required for an injured baby. Contact us now if you or a loved one have experienced an injury relating to an induction of labor, the use of oxytocin/Pitocin, or a lack of informed consent.

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