Though pregnancy can be a joyous time for an expectant mother, there are many critical medical errors that can adversely affect the pregnancy or the child. Although it goes without saying that the mother needs to exhibit responsible behavior for the duration of the pregnancy, negligence on behalf of a medical care provider is often the reason for one of these errors.

Some of the most common errors that occur in obstetrical management are:

  • Failing to screen for maternal disease. A variety of maternal diseases can be highly detrimental to the health and survival chances of a fetus.
  • Failure to determine a proper due date. A common error in obstetrical management, this is often due to over-dependence upon ultrasonography and can lead to several complications if the mother goes into preterm labor and the proper gestational age has not yet been determined.
  • Failure to respond to abnormal test results. Observing abnormal test result values and not acting on them is a critical mistake that can lead to many preventable errors.
  • Failure to monitor preterm labor or early cervical dilatation. Often blamed on the fact that doctors are very busy, this important step in obstetrical management is sometimes not done in patients between 24 and 28 weeks.
  • Not referring to specialists in pregnancies with complications. Some pregnancies experience complications due to diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disorders and anemia. Though easily done, many doctors simply fail to contact specialists in these instances when it would be highly beneficial.
  • Failing to obtain fetal surveillance in high risk pregnancies. In pregnancies with complications due to such conditions as diabetes and hypertension, bi-weekly non-stress testing is required after 36 weeks.
  • Failing to get to the hospital on time. State hospital regulations require that covering obstetricians are able to arrive at the hospital within 15 to 30 minutes after being notified of an emergency. This can vary by state.
  • Other forms of negligence. Other examples of errors in obstetrical management include negligence in diagnosing premature ruptures of membranes, recognizing fetal distress, diagnosing abnormal placentation, intervening by caesarian section on time, recognizing and managing shoulder dystocia, and using forceps and vacuuming appropriately in assisted deliveries. After the birth, errors can occur in failing to manage post-partum hemorrhage, identifying post-partum trauma, or in asking for pediatric or neonatology assistance for infant resuscitation at delivery.