Are Doctors Ordering Risky C-Sections Too Frequently?

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and senior attorney     

The CBS Evening News (8/30, story 9, 0:40, Smith) reported that a recently released study reveals that "one in three first-time mothers" in America "has a c-section these days," a trend thats not likely to "reverse in the near future, because once a woman has a c-section shes more likely to have future babies delivered the same way."   The study claims that the rate of c-section is worrisome because "Caesareans pose a risk of surgical complications and research has found that they are more likely than normal births to cause problems that can put the mother back in the hospital and the infant in intensive care," the New York Times (8/31, D7, Grady) reports. "Caesareans also increase the risk of dangerous abnormalities in the placenta during later pregnancies, which can cause hemorrhaging and lead to a hysterectomy." Whats more, "costs for a Caesarean are nearly twice those for a vaginal delivery."

Indeed, "C-sections are necessary sometimes to save the baby or the mother or both," according to the Washington Posts "The Checkup" blog. "But experts think theyre being done far too frequently." The current study authors "stress that the study cant determine exactly how many of the C-sections were really unnecessary and could have been avoided," but it "does provide new evidence that more could be done to avoid women getting C-sections the first time around, and more could at least try a regular birth even if they have had a previous C-section."

Before reaching those conclusions, researchers at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development looked at data on "230,000 deliveries at 19 hospitals across the country," according to the Los Angeles Times (8/30, Roan) "Booster Shots" blog.  The paper in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology revealed, "not surprisingly, that the major reason for undergoing a cesarean was due to the woman having a prior C-section.  Still, almost half of the cesareans that took place after labor had started were due to failure to progress, and the study suggests that doctors arent acknowledging that labor takes time and doesnt follow a predictable pattern in women, especially first-time mothers."

In preparing for child delivery, it is important for women to speak with their physicians to best understand the safest available options.  Natural delivery may be the healthiest method for a mom.  However, it should always be remembered, that during natural delivery, the baby or the mother may suffer distress, which will require a c-section under the applicable standards of care. Doctors, nurses, and hospitals must be prepared to take whatever action is necessary and appropriate to protect the mother and child. 

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About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washingtons best–most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri was recently (2011 edition) acknowledged as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers, and has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2010)–a national publication that honors the top lawyers in the country.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at or call him at 202-822-1899.

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