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Did your doctor miss the signs of a potential uterine rupture?

A uterine rupture occurs when there's a separation of the uterine wall at the site of a prior cesarean incision. They often occur in women who are attempting a vaginal delivery after having had a prior cesarean (VBAC). If the uterine tear goes deep enough, the consequences for both the baby and the mother can be severe -- immediate surgical intervention is required.

What happens if the necessary surgical intervention isn't received?

If a cesarean delivery isn't performed immediately, the baby can die because his or her oxygen supply is cut off. The optimal window for the baby's survival is only somewhere between 10-40 minutes after the rupture. In addition, the mother may die from severe blood loss. Even with prompt surgical intervention, there's the possibility that the mother will have to have a total hysterectomy in order to stop the uterine bleeding.

When should a doctor know in advance that a woman is at risk of a uterine rupture?

Only around 1 percent of women attempting a VBAC are likely to have a uterine rupture. They do, however, tend to share certain risk factors:

-- Their cesarean scar is either vertical, T-shaped or J-shaped, due to the position and size of the baby that was previously delivered.

-- The previous cesarean was less than 18-24 months prior to the new pregnancy.

-- Labor is induced and causes extremely hard contractions. Misoprostol, a drug commonly used to induce labor, should never be used during a VBAC.

-- Single-layer sutures were used to close the previous cesarean instead of double-layer sutures. This illustrates the importance of making sure that a pregnant woman's prior medical records are carefully reviewed before any decisions on a VBAC are made.

-- Mothers who have had multiple cesareans, have suffered from fever following a cesarean or are aged 30 or older are generally poor candidates for a VBAC.

If you suffered the loss of a child or a permanent injury because your doctor didn't recognize the signs that a VBAC was too dangerous, you may be entitled to recover financially for your damages. While nothing may help replace your biggest loss, the financial consequences due to your medical bills, lost time at work and other problems can also be severe. Compensation can help ease those financial struggles. Talk to an attorney who is familiar with birth injury lawsuits for more advice.

Source: VBAC.com, "What Is A Uterine Rupture and How Often Does It Occur?," accessed March 28, 2017

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