Birth Trauma Malpractice

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 What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice, also referred to as professional negligence, arises when a doctor or other healthcare provider is negligent when treating a patient. In order to prove that medical malpractice occurred, a plaintiff, or injured party, must prove five elements, including:

  • The doctor had a duty to the patient: A legal duty arises when a doctor undertakes the care or treatment of a patient;
  • The doctor was negligent: A doctor is negligent when they fail to act with the carefulness of a reasonably prudent doctor in their local community;
    • The doctor does not need to provide the best care possible;
    • The care just needs to be as reasonably skillful and careful as the care offered by other doctors in the community;
  • The doctor’s negligence was the actual cause of the patient’s injury: For a doctor to be liable, their negligence must have been the cause of the patient’s injury;
    • The “but-for” test is typically used to prove this. This test provides that, but for the doctor’s negligent conduct, the patient would not have sustained an injury;
    • The patient must show that it is more likely than not that the doctor’s negligence caused their injury;
  • The doctor’s negligence was the proximate cause of the patient’s injury: A doctor is only liable for the reasonably predictable consequences of her negligence;
    • If a patient’s injury were remote or unpredictable, the doctor would typically not be liable; and
  • The doctor’s negligence caused damages to the patient: Even if the doctor was negligent, the patient could only sue if they suffered harm. Patients commonly sue in order to recover for:
    • physical pain;
    • mental anguish;
    • medical bills; and
    • lost work and earning capacity.

Although it is rare, in some cases, a doctor’s medical malpractice causes a mother or an infant to be injured before or during the birth of the child. Birth-related medical malpractice lawsuits may include claims that the doctor negligently failed to control excessive amounts of maternal blood loss post-delivery or negligently failing to monitor the baby’s oxygen intake before and after delivery.

What Is a Birth Injury?

A birth injury is an injury that is sustained by the baby as a result of complications during labor or delivery. A birth injury may occur during or after delivery.

The most common birth injuries include:

  • Head injuries;
  • Damage caused by lack of oxygen;
  • Cerebral palsy;
  • Erbs palsy;
  • Deafness;
  • Blindness;
  • Autism; and
  • Down Syndrome.

If an infant is injured during the birth, the parents must bring the lawsuit and act as guardians for the child. The parents must request both general and specific damages on behalf of the infant.

General damages may include the cost of suffering, including mental and physical pain as well as suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life. For example, if a doctor did not use reasonable care and erroneously delivered a baby prematurely and, as a result, the baby suffered brain damage, the parents may sue to recover medical expenses incurred to pay for rehabilitation and developmental needs.

Recovery for pain and suffering is possible because the baby will experience physical and mental disability trauma. A mother can also bring a claim for medical malpractice if the doctor’s carelessness caused her to be injured prior to or during childbirth.

For example, if a doctor fails to notice the mother’s high blood pressure prior to delivery and, as a result, the mother has a seizure during delivery. In that situation, the mother may have a claim for medical malpractice and be able to recover from the injuries caused by her seizure.

What Are Birth Trauma Injuries?

Birth trauma injuries are physical injuries which occur during or in connection with childbirth. This typically refers to injuries that are sustained by the infant during childbirth.

Trauma injuries result from some type of contact or impact with the infant. In particular, birth trauma commonly involves some type pressure being placed on the infant’s skull, neck or other body parts.

Common examples of birth trauma injuries include:

  • Head or brain injuries, as the baby’s head is soft and susceptible to injury;
  • Broken bones or nerve injury;
  • Skin or soft tissue injury or bruising;
  • Bleeding or loss of blood;
  • Asphyxia, which occurs when there is too little blood flow or oxygen flow to the infant; and
  • Infection.

The term birth trauma may, in some cases, be used interchangeably with birth injury. Birth trauma, however, tends to denote some sort of physical impact or pressure-related injury.

What Causes Birth Injuries?

The majority of birth injuries are not the result of medical malpractice. Childbirth is a naturally traumatic event for both the mother and the child.

A birth injury often occurs naturally when a doctor could not have prevented the injury. However, a birth injury can be due to a medical error.

Common medical errors that may support a medical malpractice action may include:

  • Failing to monitor the baby;
  • Failing to warn of pregnancy risks;
  • Improper use of:
    • forceps;
    • vacuums; and
    • other medical birthing devices;
  • Failure to order, or delay in ordering, a cesarean section, or c-section, when medically necessary;
  • Medication errors.

What Is Birth Trauma Injury Malpractice?

Certain instances of birth trauma result from natural causes and may not always lead to a medical malpractice claim. One common example of this is where the birth canal is too small and it results in trauma to the child’s body during birth.

Medical malpractice requires there to be some form of negligence or improper action on the part of a:

  • Doctor;
  • Physician;
  • Nurse; or
  • Other medical personnel.

Birth trauma malpractice may involve:

  • Improper handling of the infant;
  • Negligence regarding administering of drugs or medicines;
  • Negligence in handling medical equipment or surgical equipment, for example, the misuse of pincers;
  • Failure to diagnose or detect dangerous conditions; or
  • General disregard of proper medical care standards.

In certain cases, birth trauma malpractice may lead to serious injury to the child or to the delivering mother. These cases may also involve some form of gross negligence or other related legal issues.

Who Are the Responsible Parties in a Birth Injury Claim?

Birth injuries or medical malpractice claims are not limited to only the conduct of the medical doctor. Medical malpractice claims in birth injury claims may apply to several parties, including:

  • The hospital that provided the doctors and medical staff;
  • Nurses and anesthesiologists;
  • Pharmaceutical Companies that provided the drugs and medicine; and
  • Doctors and medical providers.

Are There Any Legal Remedies for Birth Injury Malpractice?

There may be serious legal remedies available in birth trauma injury cases. In many instances, these remedies include a damages award intended to reimburse the plaintiff party for the injuries and costs associated with them.

The damages award may include money to cover:

  • Additional hospital bills;
  • Medication costs;
  • Surgery costs; and
  • Other expenses.

In cases that involve severe negligence, other damages may be awarded, such as punitive damages.

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Help Me with a Birth Trauma Malpractice Claim?

A birth trauma injury may lead to long-term damage for the child and result in serious complications. If you or your child were injured during childbirth, it may be in your best interest to hire a birth injury lawyer.

Your attorney can research your claim and can help you file a lawsuit with the court system as needed. In addition, your lawyer can be on hand to represent you during any court session.

Medical malpractice cases often involve complex evidence and require expert medical testimony. Because of this, having a lawyer on your case gives you the best chance at recovery.

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