Because pregnancy is a long process it creates many opportunities for problems to arise. Too often these problems are fixated on in 2/20 hindsight that misplaces an odious burden on the mother.
Indeed, studies indicate that birth performance, and perceptions of performance, unduly effect expecting mothers. Prenatal care is not simply avoiding injury at birth but a comprehensive set of duties to encourage the mother and see to their total health.
Complicating this duty is the mother’s own health attitudes and habits. For the most part, access to education and availability of care have made the largest impacts on infant mortality rates. What then, is the duty of the doctor to ensure care outside of the hospital environment?
Prenatal care is a difficult duty for a doctor to adopt. Those who deal with pregnancy have two (or more) patients and the health of each one must be considered.
Sometimes this is a straightforward path where each patient being healthy helps the next one along. Other times, a doctor may have to choose the health of one over another.
The primary duty is to the mother, who cannot be forced to act as a life support system for the unborn. However, when it comes to informing them of difficult decisions it is hard to establish that consent can be given under the pressures of the situation.
For patients with known complications, previous history of miscarriage, low birth weight, atypical pregnancy and so on it is important for a general OB-gyn to refer them to a specialist.
Ignoring previous issues without medical warrant can be dangerous for mother and child.
Sadly, it is also becoming the responsibility of doctors to counter misinformation spread online or by word of mouth. Doctors need to do everything they can to explain why home remedies and holistic offerings carry risks and to steer mothers away from dangers.
Elements of Care
Additionally, care for the mother comprises the bulk of the prenatal practice because of the difficulty in direct testing of a growing baby.
Best practices are maintained according to evidence and best-case scenarios. Doctors look for potential changes and dangers and mitigate what they find. However, they can’t see everything, and many direct tests come with risks.
For these reasons, a malpractice case looks for if the steps of care were followed.
Monitoring the mother plays a role in looking for risks early. The CDC lays out multiple guidelines for checking the physical and mental health of an expecting mother to spot factors that could escalate into complications.
Doctors face additional challenges when they inform a mother-to-be of a known issue. The liability and obstetric doctor faces is about information, not results. A mother who is told about risks and takes them anyway is at a disadvantage in making a later claim.
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A stitch in time is the watchword when it comes to prenatal care. For doctors tasked with a duty of care, prenatal malpractice is mostly about negligence.
IF you suspect poor care and a lack of duty were factors in an injury, contact us to learn what to do next.