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When Hospitals Discharge Women in Active Labor Things Can Go Wrong

It’s hard to imagine a woman in active labor being discharged, but in this case, that is what happened.

Who would have thought that a hospital would tell a mother in active labor to go home? It seems to be an unthinkable thing to do, but it actually happened. Not surprisingly, the woman filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital.

The woman went to her local hospital in 2009 with severe pelvic pain. Evidently, for whatever reasons, other than negligence, she was told to go home. She was not screened to see if she had started labor and she was not stabilized. By the time she arrived home, she was in agony and shortly thereafter, went into full blown labor. She delivered her baby at home with the help of two EMTs.

The lawsuit claims that due to the delay in delivery, her baby was harmed and she is seeking damages for mental anguish, medical expenses, loss of consortium, physical impairment and pain and suffering. Does this case stand a chance of winning? It may. However, that would largely depend on the nature of the harm caused to the baby and to the mother. More to the point is if the baby was delivered at home, with the help of EMTs, and suffered harm, why were they not named in the lawsuit as well?

While this is a touch and go case, as what hospital in their right mind discharges a woman in active labor, there are other facets to also consider. For instance, loss of consortium would be a typical result of delivering a baby, but were there some specific damages done during delivery that made it impossible to have intercourse? Again, this would have more to do with the people who delivered the child, and not the hospital.

As you can see, not all medical malpractice cases are clear cut and black and white. Then there is also the question of delaying the delivery. Was the delivery delayed? Or did it progress on its own timeline? Was she expecting to be induced or deliver naturally? If she expected to be induced, she would view the situation as delayed delivery. If the baby was on its own timetable, it would have come later, as it did.

What and who caused the actual harm, and what that harm is, are the key determining factors in this lawsuit, and frankly, it could go either way depending on what medical experts weigh in during the trial. The thing with medical malpractice lawsuits is that not all bad outcomes with a doctor are necessarily medical negligence. There is a fine line there that a good Nashua medical malpractice lawyer will outline for you if you feel you have been the victim of a medical professional.

Charlie Donahue is a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer located in Keene. Donahue handles injury cases in New Hampshire and across the United States. To learn more about New Hampshire injury attorney, Charlie Donahue, visit

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