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Water birth leads to medical malpractice lawsuit

For Illinois parents who are preparing to add to their family, there are a number of choices to be made concerning virtually every aspect of the pregnancy and birth process. From what to eat to whether or not to take birthing classes, there are innumerable decisions to be considered before the big day arrives. For some, the idea of a water birth may appeal. This is still a controversial choice, however, as one recent medical malpractice lawsuit illustrates.

The parents who have filed the suit allege that the hospital they chose misled them about the safety of choosing a water birth over a more traditional form of delivery. As a result of the water birth process, they claim that their infant son suffers from cerebral palsy as well as significant hearing loss. Within their lawsuit against the medical center, they are asking for a total of $36 million in damages.

There is a consensus within the medical field that water birthing techniques can ease the pain of the mother when used in the first stage of labor. However, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believe that there is simply not enough science to support using these techniques in the second stage of labor and delivery. In fact, several organizations assert that water birth extending into the later parts of the delivery process should be considered experimental.

As the case moves forward, many in Illinois and beyond will watch to see how the court addresses the issue. The center of the medical malpractice suit is the parents' assertion that the hospital acted negligently by promoting water birth as being just as safe as a more traditional birthing experience. The court will be tasked with considering what level of education and information an organization must provide when presenting various options to patients.

Source:, "Parents of boy suffering Cerebral Palsy file $36m malpractice lawsuit", Tanya Campbell, Jan. 16, 2015

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