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Do You Have a Right to Medical Assistance When Giving Birth?

Author: Neil fearn  Bullet  Dated: 04/10/2013

Many women experience birth injuries which can cause distress to them and their children. Often, birth injuries are a direct result of not receiving the medical care or treatment you deserve.

You have a human right to make choices about the care you receive and how you manage your pregnancy and birth. Before any treatment is carried out, your consent must be given. You must also be given sufficient information to make your own choices.

Do I Have a Right to Medical Care While Giving Birth?

All women have a right to medical care from an obstetrician or gynaecologist whilst they are giving birth. This is even more important if you encounter any complications during birth in which medical assistance is crucial.

Although human rights law does not say it explicitly, your right to life is protected. This means that the government has an obligation to provide you with basic lifesaving health treatment. This includes the medical attention you require when giving birth in a hospital.

Is Having a C-Section a Right?

At the moment, there is no right to a caesarean section unless there is a clinical need for it. If there is a need for it, it must be made available as an option on a suitable time scale.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has provided guidelines for women who want a c-section, but there are no clinical complications. They recommend that women be referred to a mental health specialist who deals with the period before and after the birth to talk about their reasons for wanting a c-section. If you still insist that a c-section is right for you then you should be given it.

NICE guidelines are not the law but if the person caring for your health does not follow them, they have to give good and clear reasons for not following them.

Do I have a Right to Refuse Treatment?

Equal to your right to medical care is your right to refuse it. A pregnant woman has the right to refuse any treatment at any point during her pregnant state all the way up to giving birth.

The only time this does not apply is if the woman does not have the mental capacity to make these decisions herself.

What If My Rights Were Violated?

If you did not receive the medical treatment you asked for before, during or after giving birth then you can approach a solicitor. They will be able to tell you if you have a claim for compensation.

Often, when the right medical assistance is not given this can have a grave impact on the mother and child. The mistake of your doctor or nurse can sometimes lead to your child being born with a birth injury such as cerebral palsy. Children that are born with disabilities often need a lot of support emotionally and physically. Financially, it can be a lot to bear also.

A claim for compensation could put your child in a position where their health needs can be met and catered for so they can reach their full potential.

Choosing a solicitor like Simpson Millar LLP who is experienced in dealing with birth injuries is the first step to making your claim.

Top Tips

  • You have right to medical assistance – if you don't receive it, this is a violation of your human rights
  • You also have a right to refuse medical treatment – if a procedure is carried out that you had no knowledge of this is also a violation of your rights
  • The mistakes of a doctor or nurse can amount to medical negligence – if this is the case, you may have a claim for compensation

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