Episiotomy: Necessary or obstetrical malpractice?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2019 | Birth Injuries |

Many women in Oregon and beyond have undergone episiotomy surgery during childbirth. However, as in many other health-related areas, such as those involving risks of asbestos exposure, years of experience and scientific studies have provided information and data to help improve patient safety. With regard to cutting a woman’s vagina during childbirth, most experts agree that, not only is it unnecessary, it is a health risk to the mother and may lead to obstetrical malpractice in some cases.

The initial idea behind episiotomy surgery was that making a surgical cut to the vagina could provide more room for the baby’s head and shoulders to pass through during the birthing process. However, it is now known that the procedure often places women at risk for complications that might not otherwise occur had the mother in question not had the surgery. Dating back to 2006, national guidelines for obstetrics have recommended greatly limiting episiotomy surgery; in fact, it is recommended only to assist a birth where a baby’s head or shoulders are stuck.

The problem is that dozens of hospitals continue to perform episiotomy surgeries at a rate of 20% or higher in all childbirth cases. A professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine expressed disdain, saying he cannot fathom any reason why a hospital’s rate of procedure should be so high, given updated information and known risks involved with episiotomy surgery. The executive director of National Women’s Health Network said there is no excuse for continued high rates of epiosotomy, given that hospitals have now had more than a decade to reduce their rates. She also stated that every patient has a right to reasonably expect that a hospital will avoid unnecessary risk.

A woman can definitely speak up to question whether an epiosotomy surgery is medically necessary in her case or whether her medical team is simply trying to speed up the birthing process. Obstetrical malpractice occurs when a licensed medical professional or hospital administrators are negligent, resulting in injury to an infant or mother. Any Oregon resident who believes she or her child were injured because of medical negligence may seek justice in a civil court. A first logical step to take to file a medical malpractice claim is to meet with an experienced personal injury attorney.