Medical Malpractice and Newborn Children – A Look at Significant Cases

Pregnancy Medical MalpracticeThe birth of a child should be a joyous time in a new parent’s life. Those first few moments after the birth of a baby bring joy and happiness. That joy can turn to pain and sorrow when a medical error, mistake or other instance of medical malpractice permanently affects the life of the newborn child.

We place deep trust in our doctors and nurses, and expect them to live up to the standard of care upon which all medical professionals are judged. Despite this trust, not all medical professionals make smart decisions and mistakes are made, even when doctors are dealing with a new, fragile life.

Recent or Historic Medical Malpractice Cases and What They Taught Us

When a women or her child sustains a birth injury, the ramifications can be significant. Dealing with such an injury can be extremely costly and time-consuming. Victims also must face the emotional impact caused by knowing their injury could have been prevented. These cases happen all too often. Following are recent medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries:

  • The Boston Globe reported that while it did take seven years, a woman who became paralyzed after suffering a stroke shortly after giving birth finally saw justice served. In May, the jury awarded the victim $35.4 million for medical negligence stemming from a previous doctor’s alleged failure to place the woman in a database for high-risk patients. The woman’s attorney claims that had her name been placed on the list, her doctor would have known to perform a C-section rather than attempt a vaginal delivery, which is what reportedly triggered her stroke and subsequent paralysis.
  • Late last year, the Daily Record reported that a Maryland court upheld a $20.6 million verdict awarded to a family in a medical malpractice case involving their son who now suffers from cerebral palsy due to complications during delivery. Although fetal monitors indicated low oxygen levels, the doctor failed to take emergency action. A C-section was delayed and as a result the boy was allegedly deprived of oxygen for an extended period when the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.
  • A few years ago, The Baltimore Sun reported on an infant medical malpractice case in which the family was awarded $55 million for injuries the boy suffered as a result of the mother having to wait more than two hours for an emergency C-section to be performed.
  • Earlier this year, The Denver Sun reported on a $17.8 million verdict which had been awarded a family. The case involved birth injuries sustained after the hospital’s staff apparently gave the newborn the wrong dose of medication four days after her birth, which caused her to go into cardiac arrest. At the time she was being prepared for surgery for a common congenital heart defect. Now the girl requires around-the-clock care and suffers from cerebral palsy and other serious medical conditions.

These recent or historic medical malpractice cases clearly show that juries believe that life is valuable, particularly newborns. It has also taught us that children must be protected from errors during childbirth which could have a profound effect on their lives. These cases of medical malpractice were all preventable had the medical professionals met the accepted standard of care. Medical professionals should not be immune from the consequences of their mistakes. They need to be held responsible for their actions and justice must be served. Action needs to be taken to eliminate birth injury risks and preventable medical mistakes involving infants.

Common Poor Decisions Medical Professionals Make with Newborns

Medical mistakes and errors occur far more often than most people realize. As the parent of a newborn child, you want to do everything possible to protect your child and keep him or her safe during the birth process. But how can you do this if you don’t know the risks your child may face?

The following list includes poor decisions medical professional have made during the birth process:

  • Pulling on or twisting the baby’s head during delivery
  • Incompetence with forceps, vacuum extractors or other medical instruments
  • Failure to anticipate potential complications with labor or delivery, or prenatal risk factors
  • Delays in recognizing signs of fetal distress
  • Failure to address fetal distress
  • Improper handling of an umbilical cord which has become entangled
  • Failure to diagnose a potentially serious or fatal medical condition in the mother or child
  • Inability to recognize birth defects
  • Failure to deliver via cesarean section when the circumstances warrants

The Importance of Contacting an Attorney If Harm Has Been Done to Your Family

Proving medical malpractice or negligence can be a particularly difficult legal process, but it is essential if you plan to seek financial compensation for injuries or harm caused to your child by his or her doctor, nurse or other medical professional. Medical professionals need to be held accountable for their negligent actions, particularly when those actions result in injury or death to an innocent newborn child.

Contacting an attorney if harm has been done to your child can dramatically improve your chances of seeing justice served. An attorney will be able to review your case, determine what parties can be held liable, advise you of your legal rights, assist in gathering the necessary evidence and documentation to prove the case of medical malpractice, and work diligently to seek the highest level of compensation possible. With an aggressive attorney on your side, medical experts will be brought in to provide expert testimony to support your birth injury claims and assist in establishing grounds for your malpractice case.

Reasons Why You Might Have a Medical Malpractice Case

Not all birth injuries are avoidable. In certain instances, a baby may be more at risk for injury or illness, regardless of the competence of the doctor and nursing staff. For example, if the baby’s mother has a preexisting condition, the baby is larger than the mother’s pelvis will easily allow, the baby is premature, or the baby is in an abnormal position at birth, complications can result in serious injury, harm or death.

You might have a medical malpractice case if at any point before, during or immediately following delivery, the doctor failed to anticipate and plan for complications or respond immediately to signs of fetal distress. Failure to order a C-section when necessary, particularly if it caused you or your child to sustain injury, could also be grounds for a medical malpractice case. Any delayed or missed diagnosis, delayed treatment, wrong medication or dosage, or any other form of negligence on the part of the medical professional responsible for the treatment and care of you and your child during birth could indicate that your child was the victim of medical malpractice.

If you've been injured due to medical malpractice please call us at 800.256.1050 for your free consultation or contact us online

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