Visitor Question

Does this error during childbirth constitute malpractice?

Submitted By: Francis (California)

My wife was giving childbirth. A doctor and two nurses said my wife was 10cm dilated and we gave the OK to rupture her membranes (break her water). They assured us it would speed up the delivery. This caused my wife a lot of pain as she was laboring for 14 hours with no medication. After the water was broken they then realized she was only 7cm and this forced them to do an emergency c-section on her.

Is this medical malpractice?

The doctor and nurse brushed me off when I questioned them, they were really nasty about it and never gave me an answer. Thanks for any information you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Francis,

If rudeness was compensable there would be a good deal more rich people around. Although being unprofessional and rude is never acceptable, in the case of your wife thankfully the rudeness didn’t transfer into injury.

Unless you know a reason why the medical staff would purposely deceive you by saying your wife had dilated 10cm instead of 7, then you really don’t have much of a case. It is regrettable your wife suffered pain she might not otherwise have, but the decision of the medical staff was probably made because they had reason to believe your wife was dilated 10 cm.

All professionals make some mistakes. It’s the frequency and severity of them which normally comes under scrutiny. Compensation in a personal injury case is in direct proportion to injuries. Additional pain, although regrettable, is probably not sufficient to prevail in a lawsuit.

Medical malpractice cases take years to pursue, and substantial time and effort with which to prevail. If you wish to pursue it further you will need to contact an experienced medical malpractice personal injury attorney.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 24, 2011

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One thought on “Does this error during childbirth constitute malpractice?

  1. Thanks for your reply but rudeness wasn’t what I was getting at. They to my standards didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. If a nurse and a doctor confirm that she is dilated and ready to give birth, suggested she rupture her membranes to speed up the process, but because they were both incorrect it caused her much suffering and pain.

    They were telling her to push before she should’ve been, in my book I think they should be held accountable for their unprofessionalism. Thankfully she didn’t have a dropped uterus or other condition that could’ve resulted from their wrong suggestions.

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