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New mother wincing in pain due to postpartum hemorrhage | Burg Simpson

Postpartum Hemorrhage & Your Medical Malpractice Case

April 17, 2023 | 6 min read

Postpartum hemorrhage (also known as PPH) is a potentially life-threatening complication that affects some women after giving birth. It is characterized by excessive bleeding following the birth of a child.

Doctors and other medical professionals have a duty to monitor women for postpartum hemorrhage after labor and react promptly. If they fail in this duty and the mother suffers injury due to PPH, this may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Burg Simpson has extensive experience handling complex medical malpractice litigation on behalf of patients and their loved ones. We understand the devastating impact of birth injuries and maternal injuries, and our attorneys will fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.

For a FREE and confidential case evaluation, call Burg Simpson at 888-895-2080 today. Our medical malpractice attorneys serve clients nationwide.

What Is Postpartum Hemorrhage?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology revised the definition of postpartum hemorrhage in 2017. Where traditionally PPH was considered to occur when a mother loses more than 500 mL of blood after a vaginal delivery or 1,000 mL of blood following a C-section, today PPH is defined as “cumulative blood loss of greater than or equal to 1,000 mL or blood loss accompanied by signs or symptoms of hypovolemia within 24 hours after the birth process” regardless of the type of labor. Hypovolemia is the clinical term for low blood volume.

Although PPH typically occurs within one day of giving birth (known as primary postpartum hemorrhage), the condition may arise up to 12 weeks following delivery (known as secondary postpartum hemorrhage).

Potential symptoms of PPH include:

  • Heavy, uncontrolled vaginal bleeding
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure (hypotension); symptoms may include fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, etc.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal region

According to StatPearls, “Obstetric hemorrhage is the most common and dangerous complication of childbirth.” It is estimated to occur in anywhere from 1–6% of deliveries. Worldwide, PPH is responsible for 25% of maternal deaths.

What Causes Postpartum Hemorrhage?

The most common causes of postpartum hemorrhage are classified into four groups known as “the 4 T’s of PPH.” The 4 T’s of postpartum hemorrhage are:

  • Tone – Uterine atony, or “tone,” is the failure of the uterus to contract. Contraction of the uterine muscles during labor compresses the blood vessels and slows blood flow, which helps prevent hemorrhage and facilitates coagulation.
  • Tissue – When tissue or the retention of the placenta in the uterus prevents contraction, it can lead to non-stop bleeding.
  • Trauma – Trauma to the uterus, cervix, vagina, labia, clitoris, or perineum can cause significant bleeding because of the increased vascularity in these areas during pregnancy.
  • Thrombin – When this coagulation disorder occurs, blood cannot clot following childbirth.

Multiple factors can put women at risk of PPH, although up to 40% of cases occur among women with no risk factors present. Issues that may increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage include:

  • Prolonged labor
  • Administration of oxytocin (a medication used to induce contractions)
  • Uterine distension (may occur when a baby is overly large or the mother is giving birth to multiples)
  • Tears and other trauma during delivery
  • Placental abruption (a condition where the placenta detaches from the uterine wall prior to birth)
  • Placenta previa (occurs when the placenta blocks the opening of the cervix)
  • Retention of the placenta
  • Use of forceps or vacuum extraction device
  • Preeclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • Having a C-section

Doctors and medical staff need to be aware of these risk factors and provide appropriate care to the mother during and after labor. Failure to do so can result in dangerous bleeding and a host of complications.

Symptoms Must Be Immediately Addressed

PPH is a clinical emergency that requires rapid recognition, evaluation, and intervention. Medical professionals must immediately address the excessive bleeding associated with postpartum hemorrhaging because delays in diagnosis and treatment can result in:

What Are the Consequences of Postpartum Hemorrhage?

The body needs blood to function. Undiagnosed and untreated blood loss can lead to hypovolemic shock. If a PPH patient’s blood volume is not restored, serious and potentially permanent complications like the following may ensue:

  • Damage to the kidneys
  • Oxygen deprivation to the brain
  • Liver failure
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Necrosis of tissue in the extremities, potentially requiring amputation
  • Multiple-organ failure

In addition to the physical complications that may be associated with severe and untreated PPH, women who suffer postpartum hemorrhage may experience a range of severe psychological impacts. More than two-thirds of women who suffer PPH report having a negative overall memory of the birth of their child, while one in five stated that their fear of another instance of postpartum hemorrhage was so strong that they decided against becoming pregnant again.

Can You Sue for Postpartum Hemorrhage?

PPH is a serious and traumatizing condition; however, suffering postpartum hemorrhage by itself is not enough to give rise to a medical malpractice claim. The elements that must be satisfied for your case to proceed include:

  • Establishing that the defendant doctor and/or hospital owed you a duty of care
  • Proving that the care fell below the applicable standard
  • Demonstrating that you suffered harm
  • Proving that you are entitled to compensable damages

If you or a loved one suffered from postpartum hemorrhage and a physician did not correctly diagnose and/or treat the condition, you could have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim due to negligence. Negligence is defined as the failure by a hospital, physician, nurse, or other health care professional to provide a generally accepted level of care used by other medical professionals in the same specialty and under the same circumstances.

You Could Be Entitled to Compensation

Depending on the details of your medical malpractice case and the severity of the injuries you suffered due to PPH, you could be entitled to compensation for:

  • Lifelong health care
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income & benefits
  • Pain & suffering
  • Disability
  • Loss of consortium

In the most extreme and tragic cases, postpartum hemorrhage can result in the death of a new mother. Families may be able to recover compensation through a wrongful death claim for losses such as funeral and burial expenses, loss of support and services, and more. 

Get Help Now from Burg Simpson’s Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a loved one suffered severe and life-altering consequences due to postpartum hemorrhage or excessive bleeding during childbirth, reach out to the medical malpractice lawyers at Burg Simpson for help now. These cases are complex but, when you secure experienced legal representation, your lawyer can begin to investigate your claim and determine if the injuries you suffered were the result of medical malpractice.

Burg Simpson’s Medical Malpractice department is skillfully led by shareholder and trial lawyer Scott J. Eldredge. Mr. Eldredge focuses his practice on complex medical malpractice cases. He is the current president of the National Medical Malpractice Trial Lawyers Association.

Mr. Eldredge works closely with the Burg Simpson Medical Malpractice team on complex medical malpractice claims. The Burg Simpson Medical Malpractice team has the experience and the resources to handle your case.

Burg Simpson Offers a FREE Case Evaluation

Burg Simpson was founded in 1977. Our award-winning attorneys have decades of combined experience handling medical malpractice claims and other complex cases.

Our lawyers offer a FREE and confidential evaluation to examine your claim and determine an appropriate course of action. Contact us for help now at 888-895-2080, or complete our online form to get started.

About Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine

One of America’s foremost plaintiff trial firms, Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine has a longstanding and nationwide reputation for fighting relentlessly and successfully for victims of negligence, malfeasance, malpractice, and abuse. Our attorneys have never hesitated to fight for our clients’ rights and consistently face and defeat formidable adversaries, including big insurance companies, banks, and pharma.

As a result, the Burg Simpson Law Firm has secured more than $2.7 billion in verdicts, settlements, and judgments in practice areas spanning catastrophic personal injury, mass tort and class actions regarding gas explosions, dangerous pharmaceutical drugs and devices, medical malpractice, complex commercial and business litigation, construction defects, and workers’ compensation. Our firm’s success has also included more than 200 recoveries in excess of $1 million.