Can I File a Medical Malpractice Case for Birth Injury?
Birth injuries are a lesser-known yet extremely common form of medical malpractice that occurs when a doctor, nurse, midwife, or other medical professional causes harm to a patient during childbirth, be it the mother or the child. It often happens as a form of negligence or malpractice when the medical professional fails to provide the expected standard of care to the patient and causes injury.
Luckily, those who have experienced an injury due to medical malpractice are eligible to file suit for financial compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
When is a Birth Injury a Form of Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens when a doctor or medical professional causes injury to a patient due to their failure to follow the accepted guidelines and practices of their profession. When the expected standard of care is not met during the childbirth process resulting in injury, the birth injury becomes a form of medical malpractice. Doctors are expected to respond appropriately to any complications during childbirth and administer prompt and appropriate treatment. If a doctor fails to do so and their medical mistake causes complications to the child or mother, they can potentially be held responsible for medical malpractice.
What Types of Birth Injuries Happen to Mothers?
While the majority of birth injuries happen to children during the childbirth process, injuries to the mother may also occur as well. Doctors may negligently ignore a mother who insists she’s feeling an abnormal amount of pain, leading to childbirth complications. In other instances, a doctor may ignore high blood pressure, which often indicates preeclampsia, which causes seizures during delivery.
Additionally, mothers may undergo a rushed or unnecessary c-section leading to injury during the surgery itself. Other types of injuries that harm mothers include:
- Uterine Rupture
- Anesthetic Complications
- Excessive Blood Loss
Types of Birth Injuries to Children
Medical negligence may also lead to injuries to the child, especially when forceps are used to deliver the child. Common injuries that occur to the baby during delivery include:
- Brain Damage
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Skull Fractures
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (which causes problems with movement and vision due to white brain matter being damaged)
- Newborn Cephalohematoma (which is fluid buildup caused by brain trauma)
- Intrauterine fetal demise (when the child dies in the womb)
- Kernicterus (which is brain damage caused by too much bilirubin in the blood leading to cerebral palsy or hearing loss)
- Neonatal Brachial Plexus Palsy (when the nerves of the shoulder are damaged, causing movement impairments in the arms and hands)
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (occurs when lack of oxygen or blood flow to the brain leads to developmental disabilities, epilepsy, or cerebral palsy)
What Causes Birthing Injury Medical Malpractice to Occur?
Several factors can lead to medical malpractice incidents during child labor. However, some tend to be a bit more common than others, including:
Failure to Administer the Correct Medication or Dose
This occurs when doctors accidentally prescribe the wrong medication or dosage, leading to congenital disabilities or injuries. Additionally, drugs administered to induce labor place excessive stress on the uterine muscles to contract. Because of this, they can reduce blood supply to the fetus, causing complications such as seizures, brain damage, or death. Other medications used during the epidural may be improperly administered, causing paralysis in the mother.
C-sections have many risks, which mothers may not be informed about before the operation is performed. A C-section can lead to infection, swelling, blood clots, and increased risks for future pregnancies. Furthermore, C-sections also have risks for the infant, including placental abruption or compression of the umbilical cord around the neck (which often causes cerebral palsy). While a mother has the right to be informed and consent to these risks, a doctor must also perform this surgery in an appropriate amount of time before the infant sustains severe or life-threatening injuries (which is why C-sections are often performed in the first place).
Improper Use of Surgical Equipment
Doctors may be forced to use forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery, requiring a high degree of skill to use without causing injury. Both are applied to the infant’s skull to help them move through the birth canal. However, each increases the risk of birth injuries due to negligence or malpractice.
Proving You Have a Case for Birth Injury Malpractice
If you want to file a birth injury malpractice suit, it’s important to understand the evidence you will need to collect. First and foremost, you must be positive that the doctor or hospital in question violated their duty of care and deviated from the standard medical treatment causing damages (such as injury, emotional suffering, or financial costs) to occur.
Because birth injury cases are complex, it’s essential to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you properly collect the necessary evidence to win your suit. Such evidence that will further your case includes treatment records, medical documents, medical bills, proof of emotional suffering, therapy bills, and lost wages. An attorney will help compile expert testimony from witnesses and other professionals who will help prove that malpractice indeed occurred.
Birth injuries are rarely discussed but are a frequent issue among medical malpractice claims. While various injuries may happen during the child birthing process, regardless of the type of injury, the cause remains the same: a medical professional who has violated their standard care of duty to a patient.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of medical malpractice during childbirth, it’s crucial to speak with a lawyer as quickly as possible. A lawyer will help collect evidence and gather professional witness testimony to fight for fair and due financial compensation.