The thought of giving birth alone is terrifying, both to Texas women who
have not yet had a child and to Texas women who have already experienced
giving birth. Typically, the delivery process is an anxious time, but
one that ultimately results in much joy. In some cases, though, unexpected
birth injuries can arise and anticipation can quickly turn to grief.
In one recent birth injury case out of Texas, a female inmate at a Wichita
County jail claims she was forced to give birth alone during a period
of solitary confinement. According to recently-filed court documents,
two years ago, the woman was serving time on a drug possession conviction.
While she was in custody, a doctor informed her of her pregnancy. After
she returned to jail, the expecting mother began to feel pain and cramping.
Her situation was reviewed by an on-duty nurse at the time, who concluded
the woman was not in labor.
However, the woman then experienced worsening pain, and attempted to get
help and medical attention. Purportedly ignored by both the nurse and
other guards, the woman claims she gave birth to a non-breathing baby
with an umbilical cord still wrapped around the newborn’s neck. Per
the lawsuit, CPR was not performed on the baby, and the woman was returned
to solitary confinement following the birth.
Her lawsuit accuses both the on-duty nurse, as well as the nurse’s
employer, of medical malpractice. In addition, the lawsuit claims Wichita
County denied the mother access to reasonable medical care. Finally, the
lawsuit also names the Sheriff’s Office as another defendant. The
federal lawsuit connects the baby’s death to the alleged malpractice
of the defendants.
As those who work in the medical field may know, umbilical cord entrapment
is an exceptionally dangerous situation for a baby in the birth process.
As the cord wraps around a baby’s neck, it can deprive the vulnerable
infant of oxygen. Emergency intervention is often needed immediately or
else the baby can suffocate or suffer damage to its brain. In the medical
community, failure to observe this type of situation, as well as failure
to appropriately and quickly respond to it, can constitute the negligence
needed for a civil malpractice lawsuit.
Source: KPRC Houston, “Texas woman claims solitary birth in jail,” Shelby
Lin Erdman & Carma Hassan, May 23, 2014