When a woman is in labor, she may spend hours pushing. It can be exhausting to the mother, and sometimes lead to fetal distress for the baby. In these cases, physicians may feel the need to do an episiotomy to speed up the labor process. Episiotomies should only be performed during emergencies, but OB/GYNs around the country routinely perform this procedure in non-emergency situations – and they are leaving women with permanent, painful injuries.
An investigation by USA TODAY found “dozens of hospitals in eight states with episiotomy rates of 20% or higher, some of them nearly double that. At the 553 hospitals analyzed, nearly 240,000 women were cut over four years.”
What is an episiotomy?
An episiotomy is an incision at the vaginal opening that creates a larger opening through which the baby can emerge. When a woman is in active labor and her child is having trouble getting through the vaginal canal, the doctor may feel that it is necessary to make the incision.
There are times when an episiotomy is needed. Some babies have large heads and/or broad shoulders that naturally get stuck on the way out of the vaginal canal, causing severe pain for the mother and obstructing the infant’s airway. In this scenario, an episiotomy can help protect the baby.
Why are episiotomies dangerous?
An episiotomy can lead to numerous problems for the mother. Although it is normal for a woman to experience vaginal pain after giving birth, that can be more severe when an episiotomy is involved. Women also risk bleeding out if the incision is too large or not properly treated, may experience additional tearing near the rectum, and can suffer from urinary incontinence in the future. Some women require surgery to correct overly deep incisions, and the risk of infection is great.
There is one additional risk to mothers whose have experienced tearing, or who were given episiotomies. Colloquially, it’s called a “husband stitch” or a “daddy stitch,” and it is an extra, entirely unnecessary stitch designed to tighten the vaginal opening. Many women have no idea that they have been given this extra stitch, which can make sexual intercourse extremely painful for them.
Making a claim for malpractice for an unnecessary or negligent episiotomy
The USA TODAY investigation implies that some obstetricians are rushing into making the incisions, rather than giving a woman time to push on her own and possibly tear on her own to make way for the baby. While medical professionals were once taught to perform these episiotomies at their own discretion, they have been advised for more than a decade to make the incisions as a last resort because the incisions are not always needed. Most women will tear on their own when vaginally delivering a baby.
If you sustained injuries related to a negligent episiotomy procedure, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim against the medical professional who harmed you. You can seek compensation for your medical bills and expenses, your lost wages, and your pain and suffering. Harris Lowry Manton LLP is one of the leading law firms in Georgia for medical malpractice claims. Our experienced attorneys can help you through the process, and protect your rights, your family, and your future.
Labor is difficult enough; you should not have to face additional risks because of medical negligence. If a Georgia obstetrician performed an unnecessary episiotomy on you during childbirth and you are suffering as a result, speak to Harris Lowry Manton LLP today. Please call our Atlanta lawyers at 404.998.8847, our Savannah attorneys at 912.417.3774, or fill out our contact form to learn more about your options.