How Can I Tell If I’m Getting Proper Medical Care—Jeff Sheppard, Attorney in New Jersey Weighs In

Posted on: May 9, 2018
NEW JERSEY. In recent months, we’ve been hearing more and more about the many ways that maternity care falls short for pregnant women in America. The New York Times recently ran a fascinating piece about how black mothers in America are routinely denied the quality maternal care they need and deserve. According to the Times, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease are the leading causes of maternal death in America.

Pre-eclampsia cases have been increasing in recent years as well. When they are serious, women can suffer seizures or even death. If not treated on time, women can lose their babies. The statistics are harrowing. According to one statistic, a black educated woman is more likely to lose her baby than a white woman with an 8th grade education. The U.S. is one of only 13 other countries where the maternal death rate has increased in the last 25 years.

Unfortunately, based on recent reports, black women’s complaints and concerns are often ignored by doctors and medical personnel. So, how can you tell if you’re getting proper medical care during pregnancy? First of all, tell your doctor all your symptoms and ask whether your blood pressure is within the normal range. If your doctor isn’t hearing your concerns, consider seeking a second opinion. Unfortunately, not all women can seek a second opinion. For example, in the hospital, women may be cared for by doctors who may focus more on the health of the baby than on the woman’s health. Or, women may be on Medicaid or insurance programs where they cannot easily change doctors. What can you do, then?

Some women are hiring doulas to help them with the prenatal, labor, and delivery process. Doulas can serve as emotional support and they can also advocate for patients as they receive medical care before labor and during labor. While many women have to pay for a doula independently, there do exist programs that help low-income women in accessing this critical care.

Another way you can protect yourself is by advocating for yourself. E-mail or send a letter to your doctor outlining your health concerns. If your doctor doesn’t respond in a satisfactory way, forward this information to your insurance company and see if there are other medical options available. The added benefit of having a record of your interactions with your doctor is that if anything does go wrong and you need to seek damages in a personal injury claim, you’ll have records of your interactions. It can also be helpful to take notes during your appointments with your doctor and to ask your doctor to provide you with notes about his or her recommendations.

Black mothers are not the only ones whose concerns get ignored. James Comey, the former FBI director, wrote about how his wife’s own concerns about their newborn fell on deaf ears. QZ reports that the baby had developed an infection that went undetected. The baby died shortly after. The baby might have survived his infection had his mother’s concerns been addressed. Unfortunately, too often in the American health care system, women’s concerns go unheard.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or loss from what you believe to be medical negligence, malpractice, or neglect, consider reaching out to a qualified personal injury lawyer. Jeff Sheppard, Esq. is a personal injury attorney in New Jersey who works closely with victims and their families. You and your family may be entitled to receive compensation for your medical care or other losses. Visit us at to learn more.