A Portland-area couple sued Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center in 2015 for $36 million, stating that the medical center failed to warn them of the dangers of water birthing. The couple claimed that the medical center had failed to deliver the child properly, and had failed to provide an emergency C-section when needed. The lawsuit also accused the medical center of failing to properly resuscitate the child, for failing to monitor fetal heart rate, and for not having trained midwives and nurses on hand, as well as an available obstetrician. According to the lawsuit, the couple’s child suffered brain damage as a result of not getting enough oxygen during the water birth. The case was settled out of court; details of the settlement are unknown.
The lawsuit had also requested that the medical center cease offering water births altogether with the exception of water births for clinical trials. The lawsuit also demanded that the hospital stop advertising the beneficial effects of water births. The hospital has not changed its approach to water births as a result of the lawsuit.
Some risks do exist for water births that don’t exist for more traditional birthing methods. A baby could potentially inhale water; a baby could also become infected from a contaminated tub, or could even drown. However, it is not these risks that caused the Oregon couple to file a lawsuit; it was the actions (or lack thereof) of the medical professionals who allegedly failed to provide a standard duty of care.
Medical malpractice cases can be complicated, and can face compelling defense arguments. If you feel that you or a loved one has been injured as a result of negligence on behalf of a medical professional, contact a personal injury lawyer with experience handling medical malpractice cases.