CDC: 1 in 5 Women Report Mistreatment During Maternity Care

A new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that 20% of women report experiencing medical mistreatment from their healthcare providers during maternity care.West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer pregnancy

As our West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers can explain, it is the job of fetal and obstetrical medical professionals to do their best to ensure the safest and healthiest pregnancy outcomes for their patients. Of course, with any pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, there is a risk of adverse outcomes that can include serious illness, injury and even death. But often, when healthcare professionals are meeting the applicable standard of care, that risk is significantly minimized. If a healthcare worker’s substandard care contributes to the death of the mother or serious injury to a fetus that survives birth, it can be grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death medical malpractice claim.

There is currently no provision in the Florida Wrongful Death Act that allows surviving parents to sue for the death of a stillborn fetus. It may be possible for the mother, and in some cases the father, to sue for mental anguish relating to the loss. These claims are usually as part of a personal injury claim filed by the mother. However, existing law doesn’t allow for such a claim to be made for “wrongful death.”

A bill pending in the Florida legislature would amend the law to add “parents of an unborn child” to the list of people who can file wrongful death lawsuits. It’s not clear whether it will pass, however, as it’s drawn sharp criticism from abortion rights advocates over the implications the law could have for doctors who perform abortions, medically necessary or otherwise. (It does contain a caveat that such a claim couldn’t be filed against the mother.)

Civil lawsuits for maternal deaths resulting from medical malpractice are more straightforward in the right to file a claim, but still potentially complicated. It’s not enough to show that an adverse outcome occurred while a patient was under the care of the healthcare provider in question. One must show strong evidence of medical negligence which directly resulted in an adverse outcome for the pregnant person.

Some examples of situations that may give rise to a birth or pregnancy-related medical malpractice claim include:

  • A hospital-acquired infection.
  • Missing key diagnostic indicators that would allow a serious condition to be flagged and properly treated.
  • Failure to provide prompt and proper treatment in the event of a medical emergency.

The U.S. maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the developed world, and it increased between 2018 and 2021.

West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyerThe newest CDC report on maternity care mistreatment indicated that while 20% women overall reported this issue, that figure shot up to 30% for respondents who are Black, Hispanic, and multiracial. Same for those with no insurance or public insurance. Among all respondents, nearly half said they were discouraged from asking questions and/or talking about their concerns with their provider.

Other mistreatment reported included being shouted at or scolded, disregard of their physical privacy, receiving no response to requests for help and being threatened with a withholding of treatment or made to accept unwanted treatment.

As our West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorneys can explain, these acts in and of themselves may not be legally actionable. However, they can rise to that level when providers fail to prioritize communication with their patients or don’t listen to what a patient is saying. It’s also well-known that the maternal mortality for Black women is much higher than those of other races. Discrimination can lead to delays in treatment and sometimes tragic – and preventable – deaths.

Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Vital Signs: Maternity Care Experiences — United States, Sept. 1, 2023, CDC

More Blog Entries:

How Privatization Leads to More Florida Medical Malpractice Problems, Jan. 15, 2024, West Palm Beach Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog

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