Childbirth malpractice is when negligence occurs during the delivery of a child during birth. They tend to involve some physical injury. But they can also involve other types of legal issues. Depending on the circumstances, various parties can be liable in a childbirth malpractice case.
- Hospital administrative staff
- Insurance and policy adjusters
- Other parties
What Are Some Examples of Childbirth Malpractice?
Childbirth malpractice involves injury to either the mother or the newborn child/children. These include:
- Cesarean surgery issues
- Problems related to birth injuries
- Administration of medications and drugs
- Negligence in handling the child
- Wrong identification of an infant/switching an infant
- Various other types of hospital mistakes
Childbirth malpractice can also include non-injury problems. Like negligence in connection with payments, issues of fraud, or insurance-related legal claims.
How Are Childbirth Malpractice Cases Resolved?
Most childbirth malpractice cases resolve with a damages award issued to the victim. This is usually the case for most injury-based claims. The damages may cover hospital costs, pain and suffering, and various other elements.
In some cases, the malpractice case can affect the responsible party. The physician or surgeon may have their medical license revoked or suspended. The hospital may need to adjust its policies and practices related to childbirth.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice claims occur when a doctor or other medical professional or a healthcare organization goes below the standard of care required when treating, diagnosing, or managing a patient, resulting in injury to that patient. In many cases, a deviation from the standard of care that is required for all medical professionals results from an act of negligence.
Medical malpractice laws permit injured patients to bring claims against negligent medical professionals. This permits injured patients to recover monetary damages to compensate them for the harms caused by medical professionals’ substandard conduct.
Whether or not medical experts may be held accountable for the injuries to patients will depend on several factors. These include the facts of the specific case and the miscellaneous rules and requirements of medical malpractice laws that apply in that particular state. In some circumstances, the standards and regulations governing medical malpractice may differ between jurisdictions within the same state.
Thus, if individuals believe they have sustained injuries due to medical malpractice, they should consult a local personal injury attorney to learn about the laws in their jurisdiction.
What Is Medical Malpractice Liability?
Medical malpractice liability refers to the people and organizations held liable or legally responsible for the injuries a patient sustains. Generally, this party is the person who breached their duty of care and was the actual cause of the injuries the patient sustained.
Figuring out precisely which party is responsible may sometimes be challenging. Medical malpractice liability cases often involve multiple parties, especially in childbirth cases.
For instance, medical malpractice liability may be shared between a physician and the physician’s nurse, or other medical personnel, when their combined negligent conduct resulted in injuries to a mother giving birth.
Further, if improper instructions were provided during the birth or if a medical professional fails to correct another medical professional, it may be possible to hold both parties accountable for the mistakes. Also, the organization itself, such as a hospital organization, may be held responsible in some childbirth cases for medical malpractice.
This standard of care applies especially in cases where the overall policy or quality of care for patients in a medical organization falls below the required duty of care standard. Parties who may be held responsible for medical malpractice in general include:
- General practitioners;
- Nurses, hospitals;
- Gynecologists; and
- Clerical staff.
What Is A Cesarean Delivery?
A cesarean delivery, also known as a C-section, is the delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. A C-section is usually performed when a standard delivery is too complicated or dangerous for the mother or the baby.
Cesarean delivery is normally scheduled before labor starts (elective cesarean), but it may be done during labor if there are issues with the baby or the mother’s health. In some circumstances, emergency cesareans are done because the baby is in danger.
When Should a Cesarean be Performed?
When deciding whether an elective cesarean section is better for a mother and her baby, details about the medical condition of the mother and the baby should be discussed between the patient and the healthcare provider.
Some common medical conditions that may warrant cesarean section include:
- Placenta previa: when the placenta grows in front of or over the opening of the cervix, blocking access by the baby through the vagina
- Breech delivery: when the baby is positioned with feet down towards the cervix instead of head down
- Fetal distress: lack of oxygen to baby, often due to the umbilical cord wrapped around the neck
- High-risk pregnancy: electing to have a planned cesarean delivery because either the mother’s or the baby’s health is at risk
For instance, suppose a condition that causes maternal bleeding during pregnancy has not settled or has worsened at the end of the second trimester or beginning of the third trimester. In that circumstance, cesarean delivery may be recommended to ensure safety for both mother and baby.
Liability for C-Section Negligence
During C-section deliveries, if something goes wrong and it results in injuries to either the mother or the child, then the medical team and hospital involved could be held responsible for the harm caused by them.
Typically, injuries are caused by negligence, whether by a doctor or someone assisting in the delivery. Negligence happens when a medical professional’s conduct falls below the standard established by law to protect others against unreasonable risk of harm.
Suppose a medical device malfunctioned and caused injury during birth. In that case, there could be a cause of action under product liability, where the manufacturer could be held responsible for the harm caused.
What If My Doctor Failed to Perform a C-Section?
A vaginal delivery can be risky for both the expectant mother and her baby under certain conditions such as:
- Carrying more than one baby at a time (i.e., twins, triplets).
- The uterus has been scarred or damaged in previous pregnancies or surgeries.
- There are anomalies in the shape of the pelvic cavity that would make it difficult for a baby to squeeze through without difficulty
- The placenta is blocking the birth canal
- Incomplete dilation
These circumstances will increase the risk of difficulties during labor and delivery. If preventative steps are not taken to ensure a safe vaginal delivery, you may have grounds for legal action against your doctor.
How Much Time Do I Have To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for a Childbirth Case?
The statute of limitations varies between states, but generally, you should file a medical malpractice lawsuit within 1-3 years of an injury or within one year of the date you discovered (or should have discovered) that the doctor’s actions led to an injury.
You might still be able to file a lawsuit if you are outside these time limits, but it will depend on the laws in your state and whether any exceptions apply to your situation.
Talk with an attorney about this timeframe as soon as possible, so you understand how much time remains for filing a claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Childbirth malpractice is a serious issue and can result in severe injuries and other legal issues. These can have long-term effects on the child that carries on into adulthood. These claims can often involve significant damages awards and other legal remedies. You may need to consult a personal injury lawyer in your area if you need help with a childbirth malpractice claim.