Medical malpractice (negligence) or improper medical care including pre-natal care, labor and delivery can cause physical harm to the newborn and/or the mother. These birth injuries are considered a civil wrong (tort) which often provides the foundation of a medical malpractice lawsuit. The injury could be a result of an intentional or careless action of a doctor, nurse, medical facility, hospital, or other provider of health care.
For nearly every type of common birth injury, someone can be held legally responsible. If the responsible individual is found liable for the injuries of the mother or child, they may be ordered to pay compensatory damages, through a medical malpractice suit. A skilled birth injury attorney can calculate the amount of compensation that is often determined on what it will cost to assist the injured party back to a healthy state.
For the newborn, this might include any past or future medical expenses for treatments and procedures. In addition, the compensation should be enough to cover past, current and future pain and suffering, disfigurement and disability, along with the loss of living a normal life. It might also include the cost of any future lost earnings, depending on the severity of the injuries suffered by the child.
Common Birth Injuries
Every day across the nation, attorneys that specialize in birth injury cases file medical malpractice lawsuits on behalf of their clients as an unfortunate result of the negligence of the medical staff or facility. The most common types of birth injuries include:
• Breach birth complications
• Bronchial plexus injury
• Shoulder dystocia
• Klumpke or Erbs palsy
• Brain damage
• Cerebral palsy
• Trauma or death caused by incorrect dosage of prescription medication
• Fetal death before or during delivery
• Vacuum extraction birth injury
• Birth injury because a timely cesarean section was not performed
Out of all of the medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries, cerebral palsy tends to be the most common. Newborns suffer from cerebral palsy by a lack of oxygen to their brain during their birth. Unfortunately, this devastating and debilitating condition will have a lifelong negative impact on the newborn and their family.
Cerebral palsy covers a variety of neurological disorders that hinder muscle coordination and body movement. Negligence during delivery causes cerebral palsy conditions in nearly four out of 1000 childbirths every year. Nearly all children that suffer from cerebral palsy have the condition because of a birth trauma or premature delivery. Oftentimes, it is a direct result of medical staff negligence during the labor and delivery of the child.
Even when the medical staff is responsible in their duties and provides the utmost care, mistakes still happen. Many of these common mistakes will lead to a variety of birth injuries including cerebral palsy. The most common mistakes that can cause a serious and debilitating birth defect include:
• Neglect to detect or treat an infection, including meningitis during pregnancy
• Neglect when using the fetal heart rate monitor through labor and delivery
• Neglect to identify a prolapsed umbilical cord
• Failure to provide an appropriate response to bleeding
• Failure to provide an appropriate response to fetal distress
• Inappropriate use of inducing or augmenting medications
• Neglect in planning or scheduling a cesarean section knowing that the newborn is too large to be delivered through the birth canal safely
• Delay in performing a necessary and timely cesarean section
• Negligence when using forceps or a vacuum in performing the delivery
• Failure to provide proper care after birth
• Failure to perform a proper circumcision
Injury to the Mother
Sometimes, negligence during prenatal care, labor and delivery will have a direct impact on the health of the mother and the child. Many medical malpractice cases are a result of carelessness by the doctor that caused injury prior to birth. As an example, the mother may be experiencing high blood pressure before delivery. This can be a sign of preeclampsia where the mother will experience a seizure during delivery that could cause serious injury to her and/or her child.
Not all medical malpractice cases involve just physical injury to a child or mother. Many parents file a medical malpractice suit using a skilled birth injury attorney for the emotional pain and suffering they have endured because of the injuries to their child. Oftentimes, the injuries that happened because of the negligence by the medical staff can last the lifetime of both the parents and the child.
Medical malpractice birth injury cases can also include an action of wrongful birth. This is usually a claim made by the parents when the doctor did not adequately warn them about the newborn’s impending birth defect if the pregnancy is carried to delivery. With this valuable information the parents could have ended the pregnancy, or have taken steps to avoid pregnancy altogether.
A skilled attorney usually supports this claim through one of two means. These include:
• Genetic Testing – Their doctor may have been negligent by not testing for genetic defects before the conception of the child.
• Detecting Impairments – Their doctor might have been negligent in their failure to detect any physical or mental impairment when the pregnancy was in its early stage.
The attorney seeks compensation for the damages involved in a wrongful birth case. This compensation can cover the extensive costs that arise through ongoing educational therapy and medical expenses to cover the child’s disorder. In addition, the lawsuit might provide compensation for the parents’ emotional pain and suffering as a result of their child’s birth defect and the stress involved in raising the child.
The Complexity of the Case
Due to medical malpractice law involving birth-related injuries, many of these cases have extensive and complex legal and medical issues. Because of that, it is essential to seek out an experienced attorney that has years in handling multi-faceted birth injury cases.
Through proper representation and counsel of an experienced birth injury attorney, the parents of the child suffering from a birth injury can sue for the ongoing costs of extensive medical expenses and possibly the expense involved in raising a healthy child. A skilled attorney can fight to protect the rights of the family and find compensation to cover the long-term consequences of the young child’s injury.