Medical malpractice can cause children that would otherwise be born healthy to be born with birth injuries. Any error made by medical staff that causes harm to the infant or the mother may be considered malpractice. Qualified birth injury attorneys can help victims receive compensation that may help with costs of medical care and treatment, as well as other special needs resulting from birth injuries.
Types of Birth Injury Malpractice
There are many different errors and acts of negligence that may cause birth injuries, including:
- Delayed diagnosis of conditions in the mother
- Failure to anticipate birth complications
- Misuse of forceps
- Misuse of vacuum extractors
- Failure to recognize umbilical cord compression
- Failure to order a timely cesarean section
- Improper assessment of fetal health prior to birth
- Failure to respond to bleeding
- Failure to respond to fetal distress
- Improper use of the drug Pitocin
Birth Defect Causing Medications
There are certain medications that have been linked to birth defects in children. The medications that are associated with these defects are known as teratogans. Many teratogans were originally prescribed to aid pregnancy. Known teratogans include Delalutin, Bendectin, and Ortho-Gyno.
Determining Birth Injury Malpractice
An attorney that is experienced with birth injury cases is needed to determine whether birth injury causes can be considered malpractice. In some cases, complications that occur may cause unavoidable injuries, despite the medical staff’s best efforts and level of competency. Birth injury attorneys will often enlist the help of medical professionals to determine whether injuries could have been avoided.
Causation of Injury
The nature of the injury and the relation to the act of malpractice may also affect a birth injury malpractice lawsuit. If an act of malpractice causes a very minor injury or does not cause injury, it may not be possible to file a birth injury malpractice lawsuit. Even if it can be proven that an act of malpractice occurred, it must be proven that the injury directly caused severe or permanent damage in order for a lawsuit to be successful. However, proving that an act of malpractice occurred that resulted in minor injury may be enough cause for the physician or medical professional to face repercussions.
Parties Responsible for Malpractice
Any member of the medical staff that assists with a delivery in which birth injuries occur may be accountable for medical malpractice. Nurses, physicians, obstetricians, and assisting staff may all be held liable for birth injuries if malpractice can be proven. Treating physicians may also be held accountable for birth defects that were caused by medical advice and medications given during the pregnancy. The hospital or medical facility may be vicariously liable for birth injuries. In some cases, pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers may also be liable for birth injuries if it can be proven that the injury resulted from medication errors or faulty design or manufacture of medical equipment.
Results of Birth Injury Malpractice
Medical malpractice during delivery can cause children pain and suffering that ranges from mild and temporary to permanent and severe. Children may suffer physical, emotional, and cognitive disabilities as a result of birth injury malpractice. In some cases, children may even perish as a result of malpractice. Common conditions caused by injury malpractice include cerebral palsy, shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy, caput succedaneum, cephalohematoma, and facial paralysis. Fractures that occur during delivery may also cause damage to the organs, body, or brain.
Birth Injury Malpractice Damages
When a child suffers birth injuries, damages that are awarded will often go to the child in the form of a trust fund. Life Care Plans may be set up in order to cover current and future medical, therapy, and development assistance costs. In addition to these damages, it is sometimes possible for parents to obtain separate damages for emotional pain and suffering. If medical malpractice is found to be particularly malicious, the medical facility or specific party may be ordered to pay punitive damages.
“Birth Injury.” Merck Manuals. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. <http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/childrens_health_issues/problems_in_newborns/birth_injury.html>
“Birth Injury Overview.” Findlaw. Thomson Reuters, 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. <http://injury.findlaw.com/medical-malpractice/birth-injury-overview.html>
“Birth Injury.” Stanford Children’s Health. Stanford Children’s Health, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. <http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=birth-injury-90-P02340>