Anesthesia is powerful and potentially deadly medicine. It makes perfect sense that there are very strict limits on what kinds of anesthesia doctors can administer to women during labor. Even minor mistakes in dosage or delivery could have fatal consequences for a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
The most common form of anesthesia during modern deliveries is probably an epidural block, often just called an epidural. An epidural involves the placement of a thin tube in the back to reduce pain in the lower body without inhibiting cognition or memory as much as general anesthesia does.
An epidural blocks pain signals from reaching your brain and also reduces your sensation below the waist while still allowing you to push during contractions. Unfortunately, while epidurals can make birth easier for many women, they can sometimes lead to tragic outcomes.
Placement issues can do permanent damage to the mother
It takes a combination of skill and experience to be able to safely insert an epidural block. Even a tiny mistake in placements with the tube or the needle used to position it could do nerve damage.
In some cases, there could be a permanent loss of sensation or motor control after nerve damage due to an epidural block. Research shows that nerve damage occurs in between 1 in 4,000 and 1 in 200,000 people who receive this kind of anesthesia.
There are other side effects that can also be problematic. If the medication for an epidural reaches the brain, it could cause a seizure. The placement of the epidural block could also lead to an infection. Some women may develop low blood pressure or fevers after an anesthesiologist administers an epidural block.
In extreme cases that result in infections, seizures or nerve damage, the improper placement of the epidural may constitute medical malpractice. Reviewing your medical records can help you decide if you want to pursue a claim after an anesthesia-related birth injury.