Short Cervix: Was your premature birth caused by a doctor’s error?

Short Cervix: Was your premature birth caused by a doctor’s error?

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A short cervix can cause serious medical issues for women during pregnancy, including premature birth and miscarriage.

Getting checked for a short cervix early in pregnancy could help a patient receive the proper treatment and stay pregnant longer. If you’ve had a miscarriage or gave birth prematurely, and your doctor failed to identify your short cervix, you might have a medical malpractice case. 

What is the cervix?

The cervix is the opening to a woman’s uterus, or womb, that sits on top of the vagina. When a woman is pregnant and in labor, this becomes the birth canal that the baby passes through when born.

What is a short cervix?

Having a short cervix means a woman’s cervix is shorter than the normal three inches. Checking for a short cervix is not a routine pregnancy test, so if you think you may be at risk, it’s important to alert your healthcare provider.

Doctors will perform a test looking for a short cervix if a patient exhibits any of the following:

  • The patient has signs of preterm labor, meaning labor is beginning before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • The doctor has a reason to believe the cervix could be too short.
  • The patient has risk factors for premature birth, such as previously giving birth to a premature infant, or premature births run in the patient’s family.

You may also see this condition referred to as cervical insufficiency or incompetent cervix, meaning the cervix is weak and starts to shorten and dilate before the safe window for the mother to deliver.  

Why does cervical length matter?

Before a woman is pregnant, her cervix is closed, rigid and about three centimeters in length.

Once a woman becomes pregnant, her cervix starts to soften, open and shorten in length to prepare for labor. However, if this process happens too soon, or before 37 weeks, a woman may miscarry or give birth to a premature baby. Premature infants often have a myriad of health issues.

If you do have a short cervix, you have a 50 percent chance of a premature birth, according to the March of Dimes. If a doctor fails to diagnosis your short cervix in time, it can result in medical complications or death to your infant.

Are there treatments for a short cervix?

If you’re currently pregnant and not in active preterm labor, your doctor may recommend a cervical cerclage, according to the Mayo Clinic. A cervical cerclage is when the uterus is stitched closed with sutures.

If you have a history of premature birth, your healthcare provider may also want to give you progesterone injections to delay premature birth. Progesterone is a female hormone that helps a woman’s uterus grow and prevents contractions. However, progesterone can only be administered to women carrying a single baby. If you’re pregnant with multiples, this treatment won’t be an option.

You may also be put on bed rest or some activity restriction for the remainder of your pregnancy in hopes of preventing preterm labor.

What should I do if I think I have or had a short cervix?

In general, it’s important to get prenatal care early and often to help ensure you and your baby’s health.

Any signs of preterm labor may be an indication that you have a short cervix and you’ll want to notify your doctor immediately. Symptoms such as regular or frequent contractions, a constant low, dull backache, vaginal spotting, or pelvic pressure may be signs your cervix has begun opening.

If you’re having any of the above symptoms, reach out to your doctor right away. If your doctor thinks you may have a short cervix, he or she can regularly monitor you with a transvaginal ultrasound starting at 16 weeks of pregnancy.

An ultrasound is the best way to diagnosis a short cervix, and a manual exam is not often reliable, according to Very Well Family.

If you believe your doctor made a medical error in diagnosing your short cervix in time, and this resulted in you giving birth to a premature infant, or having a miscarriage, you need to find an attorney. A lawyer with the experience to successfully litigate the case can help get you the compensation you and your family deserve.

Ross Feller Casey, among the nation’s top personal injury law firms, has an unmatched record of winning multimillion-dollar recoveries in birth injury lawsuits, including those involving short cervixes. Ross Feller Casey has a team of leading physicians and doctor-lawyers right on staff to help determine if you have a lawsuit.

The lawyers at Ross Feller Casey handle all cases on a contingency basis, so you will not be charged until a recovery is made in your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.