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Can a Doctor Be Liable For Prolonged Labor?

Published on July 11, 2022

The labor and delivery process is incredibly difficult on a woman’s body. There are many things that can go wrong, including prolonged labor that adds continued stress to the body of the mother and child. However, can a doctor be held liable for prolonged labor that leads to injuries or illness of the mother or child? Here, we want to discuss what causes prolonged labor and whether or not a doctor could be held responsible.

Modern Technology Allows Close Monitoring

Modern technology and modern medicine have come a long way, and they have helped lessen the dangers that mothers and their children face as a result of the labor process. Before labor begins, mothers can now be aware of any pre-existing conditions that they themselves or their children may have that could cause a difficult labor process. Doctors can monitor mothers and their children for months in advance, and they can prepare for the delivery process.

Additionally, even if there are no pre-existing conditions that could prolong labor, this does not necessarily mean that the labor process will be easy. It typically never is. However, doctors and their team can monitor a mother after labor begins, during the labor process, and all the way through until after the birth.

Some of the most common causes of prolonged labor include adverse positioning of the fetus, a disproportionately large fatal head, weak or inadequate contractions, and more.

Despite the advances in modern medicine, there are still times when prolonged labor will occur. In many cases, this will have nothing to do with the actions of the medical professionals involved. However, there are times when medical professionals make mistakes during prolonged labor, and injuries could occur.

What Injuries Can Occur as a Result of a Prolonged Labor

There are various types of injuries that can occur as a result of prolonged labor, and these injuries can affect the mother or the child:

  • Fetal distress
  • Irregular fetal heartbeat
  • Intrauterine infection
  • Fetal hypoxia or asphyxia
  • Postpartum hemorrhaging
  • Intracranial hemorrhaging


of these issues, and others, could lead to significant birth injuries, including fetal brain damage, learning disabilities for the child, cerebral palsy, or developmental issues. Additionally, prolonged labor can place significant stress on the woman’s body and lead to heart complications, strokes, and significant bleeding.

Doctors and every other person on the delivery team must be acutely aware of the signs and symptoms of mother and fetal distress during prolonged labor. They should monitor the timing and strength of the contractions, and they should also perform ultrasounds to determine the position of the fetus as well as the size of the fetus.

There are various types of medications that doctors can give a woman to help aid the natural delivery, and there are other tools that doctors could use to aid with the delivery process, including forceps and vacuum extractors. The misuse of these tools can lead to significant injuries.

Doctors must also know when it is necessary to perform a cesarean section to help with the delivery process, and prolonging this decision could place significant distress on the mother and child.

Working With an Attorney

If you think that you or your child have been injured during prolonged labor due to the careless or negligent actions of a medical professional, you need to work with an attorney immediately. A lawyer will examine every aspect of the situation to help determine the best steps forward for recovering compensation for your losses.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.