BY: Kenneth T. Watkins | IN: Birth Injury
Studies continue to show that U.S. women die of pregnancy-related causes at double the rate of most other high-income countries – 24 deaths per 100,000 live births in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, the U.S. has a higher maternal death rate than many low-income countries, including Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The maternal mortality rate is especially dire for Black women in the U.S., who are nearly three times as likely as white women to die from pregnancy or childbirth.
These numbers are climbing each year, leading to increased scrutiny of causes and some preventive efforts. However, when these tragedies strike, little attention is paid to the fathers and families left behind. Whether a mother’s death occurs during pregnancy, at the time of birth, or even months after birth, it is almost always a sudden emergency, from unexpected or unknown causes, with few warning signs.
The emotional, financial, and physical toll on the fathers left behind can be devastating – when they may also care for a newborn.
Many families are unaware of the potential for complications during pregnancy or childbirth due to how suddenly it occurs, often in otherwise healthy women without pre-existing conditions. Complications can occur in situations ranging from a seemingly easy or normal birth to emergency C-sections and anything in between. Some can even happen weeks or months after birth.
The major complications that account for most deaths due to childbirth include:
Hospitals are under no federal reporting requirements, so most maternal complications or deaths go unreported to the public. While this is slowly changing, most families are unaware of the potential for complications – until the unthinkable occurs. Already facing the unexpected loss of a loved one, a grieving father may search for answers to understand what happened.
Adding to fathers’ heartbreak is the knowledge that most pregnancy-related deaths didn’t have to happen. According to the CDC, over 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, meaning doctors’ errors, nurses’ and hospitals’ mistakes, and other instances of medical malpractice are to blame. Prevention efforts aim to ensure access to prenatal care, increase awareness of pregnancy-related complications, and hold healthcare professionals accountable for taking patient concerns seriously.
Among pregnancy-related deaths, 53 percent occur up to one year after the pregnancy. In this period, the leading causes of death are mental health issues and cardiac (heart-related conditions). Healthcare providers must recognize the importance of a recent pregnancy or childbirth to a woman’s overall health and use it to inform diagnosis and treatment decisions.
Knowing so many pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, how can families determine whether the death of their loved one may give rise to legal claims? Sometimes, the mother may not have been diagnosed or received critical treatments within an appropriate timeframe. Perhaps a doctor missed a risk factor, such as high blood pressure, or otherwise failed to adhere to the applicable standard of care.
Hospital negligence can be difficult to investigate, and medical malpractice claims are complicated. In addition to the emotional strain of suddenly losing a loved one, grieving fathers may face financial hardship – particularly when a newborn is suddenly without a mother. A knowledgeable pregnancy-related death attorney may be able to investigate and pursue the compensation to which you’re entitled.
The birth trauma attorneys have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for families who have suffered injuries and deaths due to doctors’ negligence during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. As important as our courtroom experience, we understand the heartache and hardship the mother’s wrongful death can have on her partner, especially when there is a new baby to care for and raise.
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one due to pregnancy-related complications, we will aggressively fight for your right to compensation while showing you the compassion and sensitivity you deserve. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.
View all posts byKenneth T. Watkins
Kenneth T. Watkins is an accomplished trial attorney and Senior Shareholder with Sommers Schwartz. Over the course of his career, he has obtained numerous multimillion-dollar settlements. His achievements include one of the largest seven-digit medical malpractice cases in Macomb County in 2008, and his election to membership in the exclusive Million Dollar Verdict Club.