As every birthing injury and medical malpractice lawyer knows, childbirth is a particularly vulnerable moment in a person’s life. Even when the birthing process is completed safely and successfully, the mother and child may be susceptible to infections or other illnesses.

Last month, the Toronto Star reported on the death of 24-year-old new mother Ayesha Riaz, who gave birth to a healthy baby boy at Markham Stouffville Hospital on February 7. She appeared to be recovering well, but just days after the birth, she contracted a Group A Strep infection amid an outbreak in the maternity ward, and quickly died of the illness.

“Ayesha and the baby stayed in the hospital for the next few days because she gave birth four to five weeks early, so the baby was to be monitored,” Riaz’s friend Khalidha Nasiri told the Star via email. “On Fen. 10, 2018 around noon, Ayesha underwent sudden septic shock and her organs started failing. It was determined that she had an undetected group A streptococcus (GAS) infection that resulted in the septic shock. Within a few hours, she died.”

The hospital launched an immediate internal investigation into the cause of Riaz’s death on February 10, at which point they identified the Strep A infection.

“As soon as there were indications of a Group A Strep case on the unit, we instituted enhanced cleaning measures and restricted visitors to the unit,” hospital communications head Lisa Joyce told the Star. “We also proactively notified patients who would be coming to the unit about the increase in infections and the restrictions we had put in place.”

Despite the hospital’s thorough response to the outbreak, Nasiri said Riaz’s family has questions about the standard of care she received. According to the family, a single nurse delivered the baby without a doctor’s supervision; preliminary symptoms experienced by Riaz were regarded as normal; and the intensive care unit was under the supervision of a lone doctor when she arrived on February 10.

The fact that Riaz contracted a serious infection does not necessarily mean the hospital is liable for her death. As any medical malpractice lawyer can tell you, malpractice only occurs when an appropriate standard of care is not met.

However, hospital-acquired infections can, in some cases, lead to successful medical malpractice claims. If the infection was caused by the hospital’s failure to provide a clean and sanitary environment, for example, the hospital may be liable. The same may be true if the hospital’s staff failed to diagnose or treat the infection in a timely manner.

The specifics surrounding Riaz’s death are still unclear, and her family may choose to avoid the lengthy and emotionally taxing process of pursuing a medical malpractice claim. If the hospital is in any way responsible for her death, though, it is well within their rights to do so.

If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury because of a hospital or physician error, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Our team can help you understand the viability of your claim and guide you along your path to recovery.

Greg Neinstein