Posted on March 1, 2019

pregnant woman getting an epidural from a doctor Gray and White LawDifferent forms of anesthesia may be used during childbirth. Two of the most common types of anesthesia used during labor and delivery include a spinal epidural, which may be used during a vaginal delivery, and a spinal block, which may be used during a Cesarean section delivery.

Anesthesia has risks, but when it is used correctly, it is generally safe for the baby. When an error occurs, however, anesthesia can have devastating results.

Anesthesia Errors During Childbirth

You trust the doctor, nurse, and hospital to provide you with reasonable care and to keep you and your baby safe. Unfortunately, mistakes may be made during labor and delivery that have lasting results. The risks should be clearly explained to you, and you should provide your permission before anesthesia is administered. If a medical professional fails to use reasonable care, one of the following errors may be made:

Failure to diagnose and treat maternal hypotension.

Anesthesia can cause a mother’s blood pressure to drop significantly. The drop in blood pressure is dangerous for both the mom and the baby. Medical staff should carefully watch the mother for signs of low blood pressure and monitor the baby for signs of fetal distress so that prompt action can be taken, if necessary.

Failure to monitor the mother for abnormal contractions.

Anesthesia may affect labor contractions which, in turn, may affect the amount of oxygen the baby receives and may result in a uterine rupture.

Failure to monitor the mother and baby for any other potential adverse reactions.

The sooner the medical team knows about a problem, the sooner treatment may begin to limit the lasting effects of that problem.

Failure to administer the anesthesia safely.

A mistake that is made during the administration of the medication could result in an injury.

Failure to provide informed consent.

There are known risks with anesthesia. For example, anesthesia may impact a mother’s ability to push during a contraction which could increase the likelihood that a tool such as a forceps or a vacuum may need to be used.

Any of these anesthesia mistakes can result in harm to the baby.

Birth Injuries Caused by Anesthesia Errors

The specific injury suffered by a baby because of an anesthesia error will depend on the type of error that occurred and how quickly the mother and baby got medical intervention. Some of the potential injuries that could happen to a baby after an anesthesia mistake include:

Fetal acidosis.

Babies with fetal acidosis have too much acid in their bloodstream. This can result in oxygen deprivation.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

HIE occurs when not enough blood and oxygen make it to the baby’s brain.

Head trauma.

Head trauma, including brain bleeds, may result from the use of birthing tools such as vacuums and forceps.

Brain damage.

Brain damage may occur as a result of oxygen deprivation or head trauma. The effect of brain damage on your baby’s life will depend on the part of the brain that was hurt and how badly it was injured.

Cerebral palsy.

Oxygen deprivation during labor or delivery can result in a lifelong condition known as cerebral palsy. A person with cerebral palsy may have trouble controlling or moving parts of the body.


A lack of oxygen to the brain can result in a stroke that causes lifelong disabilities or death.


Some anesthesia errors can result in a baby’s death.

Additionally, the mother may suffer significant injuries of her own due to an anesthesia error during labor or delivery.

Protect Your Child’s Recovery After an Anesthesia Error

Your child’s birth injury may have been preventable. Our experienced birth injury lawyers and our staff nurse can review what happened during your labor and delivery. If your child was hurt due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, midwife, or hospital, we will fight hard to get your child full and fair damages for all of his or her injuries.

Let us do the legal work of identifying the right defendant(s), analyzing the right evidence, and making convincing arguments on your child’s behalf while you do the hard work of parenting. Contact us online or call our Louisville office directly at 888.450.4456 at any time to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more about how we can help you help your child.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law