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Is It Legal to Perform a C-Section Without the Mother’s Consent?


In August 2018, a woman in California underwent a caesarian section after doctors couldn’t detect the baby’s heartbeat. Sounds fairly standard, right? The difference was the woman didn’t receive any anesthesia and passed out from the pain.

When it comes to intense, stress-inducing, painful experiences, childbirth is hard to beat. Being aware and worried about possible birth injuries, medication side effects, and surgical complications is exhausting in itself, never mind the process of actually delivering a baby.

In these moments, doctors can take the helm, making snap decisions so the mother doesn’t have to think about anything but delivering her baby. However, when these decisions are made negligently, they may amount to medical malpractice.

Duty of Care for C-Sections


Mothers who arrive at the hospital to give birth establish a patient-physician relationship with not only their delivery doctor, but also their obstetrician (OB/GYN). This medical professional is in charge of measuring, making decisions, and delegating responsibilities based on their observations.

There are two ways in which an OB/GYN may be found negligent in their decision about performing a C-section: performing the procedure negligently or failing to perform the procedure when needed.

Ordering a Negligent C-Section

Though the OB/GYN doesn’t perform the surgery, they still may be liable if the surgeon makes a negligent error during the process. Possible medical mistakes include unnecessary injuries like lacerations to the mother, as well as injuries inflicted on the infant.

Failing to Perform a C-Section

In addition, OB/GYNs and other attending physicians may be negligent if they fail to test for or notice warning signs that may require a patient to have a C-section.

Doctors should be constantly monitoring both the baby’s health and the mother’s, and they should be aware of low blood pressure, weak pulse, or other delivery complications. They need to order and perform the surgery in a timely manner, because babies’ bodies are so susceptible to damage that mere seconds could mean grave consequences.

Doctors may be guilty of medical malpractice if the baby is injured due to their failure to order or perform a C-section in a timely manner or at all.

Necessity of Giving Consent

Because certain medical scenarios require them to perform C-sections, doctors have the right to make decisions that ensure the health of both the mother and her baby. When they take this responsibility, however, surgeons and OB/GYNs also take on liability if their decisions are negligent and cause harm.

This means doctors can’t be held liable for performing successful, non-negligent C-sections without the mother’s consent, but they may be responsible for harm caused in the process.

Help Seek Justice with an Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorney

Infants are extremely vulnerable during childbirth, and though a large majority of hospital deliveries go smoothly, the rare mistakes cause real, tragic harm to families. If you or your baby has been hurt because of a doctor’s negligence during childbirth, you may have a medical malpractice case on your hands.

Hensley Legal Group’s medical malpractice attorneys are here for Indiana medical malpractice victims. We’ll fight hospitals and physicians to secure the damages you deserve for your pain, suffering, and injuries. Call us or contact us online today to get started with a free conversation. There’s no obligation, and our lawyers won’t be paid until you are.