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Can You Sue Your OBGYN for an Unnecessary C-Section?

Cesarean births, or C-sections, as they are commonly knows, are increasing at an alarming rate in the United States, up from 23 percent of all births in 2000 to 32 percent in 2015. To put these percentages in perspective, in 1985 the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there was "no justification for any region to have a caesarean section rate higher than 10-15 percent."

Though necessary C-sections are always welcomed, unnecessary ones are of concern because the procedure can pose risks, such as infection or postpartum heavy bleeding. If your obstetrician performs an unnecessary C-section on you, can you sue?

Planned C-Sections Require Informed Consent

Let's assume that all emergency C-sections are necessary, since considering anything else requires too many factual discussions about the birth and the doctor. Therefore the issue turns to informed consent. Did you give your informed consent to have the C-section prior to the operation? Meaning, did you give consent? And was it informed?

Did You Provide Consent?

Prior to having any surgery, including a C-section, patients need to give their consent to having the specific operation in question. If there is no consent, or if the consent was given for a different surgery, then the patient could sue the doctor for battery, which is technically having contact with a person without their consent. Assuming, though, that consent was given, the question becomes, was it informed?

Was Your Consent Truly Informed?

Was the consent that you gave informed? Specifically, before signing the Informed Consent document, were you given:

  • A description of your specific situation that is leading to the need for a C-section, and
  • The nature and purpose of the C-section, and
  • The benefits to you of having the C-section, and what would happen if you had a vaginal birth instead, and
  • The risks, complications, and post-operative issues of the C-section

Upon being given all of this information, you should be able to determine if the C-section is necessary or not, specifically in regards to "what would happen if you had a vaginal birth instead". If it is unnecessary, talk with your doctor, since it may very well be that the benefits do not outweigh the risks. If you were not given all of the above information, your consent couldn't truly be informed, and therefore the C-section would be considered battery, and a basis for a suit.

Like most personal injury lawsuits, there needs to be some damages. In order to successfully bring a suit, there would need to be damages to either you or your baby. If you or someone you love has had a C-section, and you feel that you gave consent based on misinformation and indeed the operation wasn't necessary, and there were damages, contact a medical malpractice attorney. Upon hearing the facts of your case, a trained legal advisor can help you determine if you have a viable case, and best ways to move forward.

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