A surgical cut made to the vagina during the labor and delivery practice has become fairly standard practice, but should it? A recent analysis finds that dozens of hospitals have episiotomy rates at or above 20%. Many even double this rate.
The problem: national guidelines state hospitals should limit the procedure for emergencies and hospital safety groups state episiotomies should occur in no more than 5% of vaginal deliveries.
Why are episiotomy rates so high? Medical experts that reviewed the data explain high episiotomy rates are the result of "outdated medical practices and a desire to speed up the time it takes to deliver babies." In the past, physicians were taught an episiotomy would result in a more precise cut that would be easier to repair and reduce the risk of future issues when compared to a natural tear. Studies over the past couple of decades have disproven this belief. As a result, recommendations have changed.
Unfortunately, the belief that an episiotomy will "speed up the time it takes to deliver a baby" is a mindset that could result in other complications during the delivery process, potentially leading to serious injury to the mother and infant.
What can mothers do to avoid these types of injuries? Ideally, expecting mothers can have a discussion with their medical practitioner before going into labor. This discussion should include a review of the mother's birthing plan. The plan should discuss when and what type of medical intervention the obstetrician will use in the event of an emergency during the delivery.
If you feel the physician did not follow this plan or negligence resulted in injury, compensation may be available to help cover the costs of additional treatment. Contact an attorney experienced in labor and delivery errors to discuss your options.