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What Are The Responsibilities of Doctors & Nurses During Childbirth?

Posted on September 22, 2021

Doctors and nurses play critical roles in monitoring labor and assisting with delivery during childbirth. If they act recklessly or a medical error is made, the consequences can be catastrophic. Knowing each staff member’s responsibilities can help you understand whether you have grounds to take legal action and pursue compensation.

Labor and Delivery Nurse Roles and Responsibilities

Labor and delivery (L&D) nurses are present throughout labor, birth, and the postpartum experience. In contrast, doctors or midwives may only be with the mother for part of the time. These nurses assess each mother and baby and develop an individualized plan of care. They are there to provide a great deal of assistance, encouragement, and comfort, as well as serve as a liaison between patients and medical teams.

Specific responsibilities for L&D nurses include the following.

  • Monitoring vital signs for the baby and mother, including heart rate and blood pressure
  • Administering medications
  • Starting IV lines
  • Measuring contractions
  • Aiding with inducing labor
  • Identifying and assisting with handling complications
  • Assisting with surgery in the event of a cesarean delivery
  • Coaching new mothers

A good L&D nurse will know how to assess, mitigate and manage complications during childbirth, as well as have good bedside manner and a caring demeanor. Nurses can be liable for medical malpractice, and claims are commonly filed based on:

  • Failure to inform the doctor of maternal or fetal status changes
  • Failure to ensure a patient is adequately cared for by the attending physician
  • Medication errors
  • Failure to properly monitor vital signs or identify fetal distress
  • Negligent intervention or incorrectly performing a task

A Doctor’s Roles and Responsibilities

An obstetrician (OB) is a doctor with specialist qualifications in delivering babies and providing medical care to women during pregnancy (antenatal care) and after birth (postnatal care). Both OBs and midwives deliver babies, and one will be there to monitor your progress and, when the time comes, deliver your baby. OBs manage complications during delivery and perform C-sections, whereas midwives can deliver babies vaginally and will consult your healthcare team to create a plan of care if issues arise. Common acts of medical negligence by doctors or midwives during delivery include:

  • Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis
  • Improper monitoring of fetal or maternal vital signs
  • Failing to anticipate a difficult birth
  • Improper use of birth-assisting tools
  • Failing to perform or delaying an emergency Cesarean section (C-section)
  • Failing to monitor and control oxygen intake (oxygen deprivation)
  • Improper management of maternal infections
  • Failure to inform parents of an infant’s abnormality, resulting in birth complications

What Should I Do If I Feel a Doctor or Nurse Acted Irresponsibly?

If you believe you or your child was injured due to the irresponsible actions of a doctor or nurse, contact a Delaware county birth injury lawyer. They will be able to tell you whether you may have a case and if it is worth bringing a lawsuit. If so, they can help you investigate, collect evidence supporting your claim, and help you navigate the claims process.