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Common Causes of Birth Injuries

Common Causes of Birth Injuries

Having a baby is often an exciting yet stressful time for new parents. The stress of raising a child can be substantially magnified if you learn that your child suffered an injury at birth. Even minor birth injuries can require medical treatment, which will result in more medical bills in addition to the expenses of your labor and delivery. More serious birth injuries can result in impairments and disabilities with which your child may struggle their entire lives. Furthermore, serious birth injuries can mean a lifetime of medical and personal care and limitations on work and activities. If a birth injury occurs due to medical malpractice, you have the right to hold your negligent1 doctor liable for all of the costs – monetary and otherwise – of the birth injury. Improper Testing During Pregnancy As part of prenatal care, doctors often should perform a variety of tests to determine the health of both the mother and the fetus. These tests can identify whether a mother has health conditions that need to be managed or addressed, can help predict any possible complications during the birth, and can determine whether the baby has any life-threatening or otherwise severe birth defects. If a doctor fails to perform necessary tests or does not relay test results back to the parents, it can constitute malpractice if any birth injuries result. Failure to Monitor Vital Signs During Labor Hospitals have equipment that can monitor a baby’s and mother’s vital signs during the labor process. If it appears that one of their heart rates are falling or if there are signs the baby is not receiving...
Who Can Be Sued in A Birth Injury Case?

Who Can Be Sued in A Birth Injury Case?

A birth injury or medical malpractice claim is not limited to the conduct of medical doctors, but applies also to nurses, anesthesiologists, health care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and others that provide health care services. Hospitals Hospitals are corporations that are either public or private entities. In the context of medical malpractice actions, hospitals can be held directly liable for their own negligence, and can also be held “vicariously” liable for the negligence of their employees. Vicarious liability means a party is held responsible not for its own negligence, but for the negligence of another. Hospital Negligence: A hospital’s medical staff will consist of licensed physicians and other licensed health care providers, such as nurses, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners. In hiring its medical staff, a hospital must make reasonable inquiries into an applicant’s education, training and licensing. If a hospital fails to make reasonable inquiries regarding a member of its medical staff, it might be held liable under the “corporate negligence” doctrine for negligent supervision or retention, if the staff member’s negligent care injures a patient. A hospital might be held liable for its own negligence where, for example, it fails to investigate the credentials of an attending physician before granting him/her privileges at the hospital, or where it allows a physician whom it knew, or should have known, was incompetent, to treat patients at the hospital. Hospitals are also required to ensure that there is a sufficient number of registered nurses on duty at all times to maintain quality patient care. A hospital that fails to do so may be held liable for injuries to patients resulting from...
My Child Was Born with Hypoxia, Can I Sue for This Birth Injury?

My Child Was Born with Hypoxia, Can I Sue for This Birth Injury?

What is Hypoxia? Hypoxia occurs when a baby receives inadequate oxygen to its brain before, during, or after delivery. The condition can lead to brain injury and, if improperly treated, may progress into a permanent disorder, such as cerebral palsy, cognitive deficiencies, or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). However, hypoxia doesn’t necessarily lead to permanent disability. While most babies born with mild hypoxia will recover without permanent disability, moderate or severe hypoxia substantially increases the risk that your baby will have a lifelong disability. What Causes Hypoxia? The longer it’s left untreated, the more likely it is that Hypoxia will lead to permanent, debilitating disability. Therefore, it’s crucial that hypoxia be identified as soon as possible. Neonatal hypoxia may occur anytime before, during, or after labor. Potential risk factors for hypoxia include: Infection Umbilical cord injuries Placental insufficiency – a blood flow disorder that leads to a lack of growth for the placenta Congenital heart disease Placental abruption – the lining of the placenta separates from the mother’s uterus Cardiovascular collapse Umbilical cord prolapse – the umbilical cord leaves the uterus before or at the same time as the fetus Oxygen deprivation Shoulder dystocia – the baby’s shoulder gets stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during labor Brain blood vessel abnormality   Treatment Options The first step in treatment is to resuscitate the infant and stabilize oxygen flow. Once this has been done, depending on the needs of the baby, treatment may include hypo-or-hyperthermia management, fluid management, and ensuring adequate ventilation. In recent years, cooling therapy has become a popular treatment. Cooling therapy involves a plastic blanket that is circulated inside...
How Do You Prove Fault in a Medical Malpractice Case?

How Do You Prove Fault in a Medical Malpractice Case?

When a physician fails to meet the standard of care, and it results in an injury to the patient, that patient may seek damages for medical malpractice. Below are the ways you can establish medical malpractice, and all of them are based on whether the doctor exercised the proper standard of care. Negligence: Most medical malpractice cases follow the theory of negligence. Essentially, this means that a medical professional was negligent in treating the patient. To establish medical negligence, an injured patient, the plaintiff, must prove: The existence of a duty owed by the health care professional to the plaintiff The applicable standard of care, and the health care professional’s breach of the duty owed the patient A connection between the health care professional’s deviation from the standard of care and the patient’s injury Injury to the patient To find a medical professional negligent, it must be proven that his or her conduct fell below a generally accepted standard of medical care. Negligent Prescription of Medications or Medical Devices: A medical professional may be held liable for the negligent prescription of a medication or medical device if he or she ignored the manufacturer’s instructions, or prescribed an incorrect medication or dosage, which resulted in injury to the patient. Informed Consent: “Informed consent” means that a physician must tell a patient all of the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives involved in any surgical procedure, medical procedure, or other course of treatment, and must obtain the patient’s written consent to proceed. In many situations, the failure to obtain a patient’s informed consent before administering a procedure or treatment is a form...
What is Birth Related Medical Malpractice?

What is Birth Related Medical Malpractice?

Complications can arise during pregnancy and delivery, and these complications can potentially result in injury to the baby. In situations such as these where the harm was avoidable, it is important that the legal rights of both baby and parent are safeguarded. How Birth Injuries Occur Most situations involve one of two general scenarios: either the doctor’s failure to assess or respond to conditions, or injuries due to prenatal care, which includes prescription drugs. For example, a doctor may fail to recognize pregnancy disorders like hypertension; improper use of medical devices such as forceps or vacuum; failure to perform a necessary cesarean section; or improper assessment of a baby’s overall health in the womb. A lawsuit arising from these types of situations will usually include a medical malpractice claim against the physicians and other medical practitioners involved, and in some cases a claim against the hospital where the treatment or delivery took place. Birth Injury vs. Birth Defect It can be difficult to know if certain complications were caused by a birth injury or were the result of a birth defect. For example, a child born with cerebral palsy may not have been given enough oxygen during labor or the situation may have been caused by an unpreventable birth defect. The information provided will help to differentiate between the two: 1. Birth Injuries: A birth injury to a baby occurs due to a complication in the labor or delivery process. A birth injury can happen because of an obstetrician’s use of an improper medical technique during delivery, or through improper use of a medical device such as forceps or...
The Medical Malpractice Epidemic

The Medical Malpractice Epidemic

When you visit a healthcare provider, you have a reasonable expectation that he or she will be able to provide you with quality medical assistance. Society expects that, after years of intensive studying and training, healthcare providers will be adequately prepared to assess a patient’s condition and work to bring the patient back to health. Although many healthcare providers provide high-quality medical services to their patients, some patients suffer unnecessary medical errors caused by the healthcare provider’s negligence. In fact, the United States has witnessed the growth of an easily preventable medical malpractice epidemic. Medical malpractice can cause serious injuries to an individual in addition to emotional and financial hardships to the victim and his or her family. Medical Malpractice Can Cause Wrongful Death Medical malpractice is often considered the third leading cause of death in the United States. According to a report by the Journal of Patient Safety [1] presented before a United States Senate panel in 2014, nearly 440,000 Americans die each and every year from preventable medical errors. Deaths caused by medical malpractice can cause serious complications for the family of the deceased. First and foremost, the family can suffer serious emotional distress resulting from the loss of a loved family member. The sudden, unexpected loss of the deceased keeps him or her from providing the family with the same love, compassion, and support as before passing. Additionally, the family may suffer economically. The deceased may have served as the family’s main or only source of income. The wrongful death may, among other things, force family members to drastically alter their lifestyle or to make serious financial decisions...