Poor Communication Can Result in Labor and Delivery Complications

by Jonathan Rosenfeld on Mar. 04, 2020

Accident & Injury Medical Malpractice 

Summary: Poor communication during labor and delivery can lead to complications and even potential birth injury.

The complicated process of labor and delivery requires nurses in a hospital setting to communicate effectively with doctors, as needed. Most of the obstetric nursing staff function independently during routine labor, with only minimal communications with the physician lasting only minutes.

Effective communication is a hallmark of providing safe care and a crucial component to improve a woman's and child’s quality of life during labor and delivery. Midwives and nurses are expected to communicate with doctors, provide training and counseling to new mothers, and provide education to the entire family taking home a newborn. Any failure in the process can produce an undesirable outcome, including a birth-related injury to the child.

The staff of the labor and delivery team is collectively responsible for quickly identifying and managing ongoing threats when managing the health of the mother and fetus. Communication issues must be handled through a hierarchical dynamic to ensure that every challenge concerning resource issues, personality differences, on the job stress, work-related fatigue, and administrative support are resolved quickly.

The Benefits of Teamwork

Management of a safe and effective obstetric unit can be complicated. The physicians and nurses must maintain a high level of skill to accomplish necessary tasks to ensure the best outcome of the mother and baby. The skills must involve:

  • A comprehensive understanding of clinical knowledge
  • Substantial clinic experience to quickly recognize and respond to every aspect of challenging obstetrical complications
  • A method to comprehensively and rapidly share the responsibility of all aspects of labor and delivery when providing care to patients
  • Optimal communication skills

Any reluctance to identify and resolve issues proactively in the clinical care setting might result in reducing the quality of care. Alternatively, highly reliable obstetric teams trained to handle stressful situations can reduce clinical errors, improve delivery outcomes and enhance patient satisfaction. An effective strategy to improve prenatal care can quickly address the mother’s maternity needs at its most crucial time.

Research indicates that appropriate communication in maternity wards can be a determining factor for the mother and child satisfaction involving provided care. Unpredictability is an unexpected situation in most delivery cases. Challenging births could cause the mother’s blood pressure to spike, stress to the fetus, and the development of a perfect environment for infection.

The nurse or midwife developing a productive relationship with the mother can reduce the patient’s level of anxiety, lower blood pressure, and increase a sense of security during a challenging time. Unfortunately, studies show that communication in the healthcare setting has become defective. Many of the common complications associated with labor and delivery involve miscommunication.

Questions to Ask

Soon-to-be mothers and families should ask the nursing staff and obstetric doctor essential questions before the moment of delivery arrives. Gathering information can make you more informed and reduce the potential problems associated with miscommunication. Some of these questions include:

  • How many babies, on average, are born at this hospital every day?
  • What is the hospital’s percentage rate of unmedicated births?
  • What kind of fetal monitor will the hospital use (internal or external)?
  • How often does the nursing staff monitor the baby, or is it continuous?
  • Do I have the option to opt-out of using intravenous placement?
  • What standard procedures, as a hospital, follow immediately after the newborn’s birth?
  • What is the hospital’s cesarean section rate?
  • Does the hospital support family-centered/gentle cesarean sections?
  • Is there a way we can undergo a water birth or deliver the baby in a nonstandard position?
  • What is the hospital’s percentage rate of natural childbirth?
  • Will the hospital honor the birth plan I wrote and submitted?
  • Can I expect the nurse to assist me with exercises and positioning during labor?
  • Does the hospital have a strict time limit involving quick labor and delivery before using interventions?
  • Do I stay in the same room for my recovery that was used in the delivery?
  • Does the hospital allow breastfeeding a newborn in the recovery room?
  • Will my newborn be examined in the room or removed to a nursery?

Delivery is often the most crucial component of the birthing process, where the mother and child experience physical and mental stress that is often unavoidable. The emotional and social aspect of the birthing process often remains in the mother’s memory forever. Because of that, any unpleasant or undesirable event during labor and delivery can create a lifelong negative mental effect.

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer

Lawyer.com is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on Lawyer.com is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by Lawyer.com. The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, Lawyer.com recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See Lawyer.com's full Terms of Use for more information.