Medical malpractice is a personal injury that occurs when a doctor, other medical professional, and/or healthcare organization falls below the standard duty of care that is required of them when managing, diagnosing, or treating a patient. This lapse in care typically results in an injury to that patient themselves, but it may also result in an injury to an unborn child being carried by the patient.
The deviation from the standard duty of care that is required of all medical professionals is generally associated with an act of negligence. Medical malpractice laws are what enable an injured patient to bring a claim against a negligent medical professional for injuries caused to them or on behalf of their unborn or newly born child. It also allows an injured person to recover damages for the harms that were caused by the medical professional’s substandard conduct.
Whether a medical professional can be held liable for a patient’s injuries will generally depend on the facts of each specific case. It will also depend on the various rules and requirements of medical malpractice laws that are enacted in the particular state in which the patient resides at the time of their injury.
Under some circumstances, the standards and regulations for medical malpractice can even vary between different jurisdictions within the same state. As such, it is important to research local laws on medical malpractice and wrongful conception for your local jurisdiction.
What Is Medical Malpractice Liability?
Medical malpractice liability refers to which people or organizations may be held legally responsible for a patient’s injuries to themselves or their child. Generally speaking, this is generally the party who breached their duty of care and was the actual cause of the patient’s or child’s injuries. However, determining exactly who was liable can be challenging due to the fact that medical malpractice liability frequently involves more than one party.
For example, it is possible to divide medical malpractice liability between a doctor and their nurse or other medical personnel when their combined negligent conduct led to a patient’s injury. Thus, if improper instructions were provided, or if one medical professional failed to correct the other when they were aware of a mistake, there may be a chance that both parties could be held liable for their mistakes.
Additionally, the organization itself, such as a hospital organization, can sometimes also be held liable for medical malpractice. This is especially true in cases in which a medical organization’s overall policy or quality of care for patients falls below the necessary duty of care standard for that jurisdiction.
Examples of parties that may be held liable for medical malpractice involving wrongful conception include, but may not be limited to:
- General practitioners;
- Clerical staff.
Some of the most common examples of medical malpractice claims involving wrongful conception, wrongful birth, and wrongful life include:
- Improperly diagnosing or failing to diagnose a patient;
- Prescribing the incorrect treatment or medication;
- Failing to provide a proper birth control method or providing an ineffective birth control device;
- Failing to inform parents of a birth defect.
What Is Wrongful Conception?
Wrongful conception is a medical malpractice claim in which the parents of an unexpected child allege that they suffered damages as a result of a medical professional providing negligent sterilization procedures or a defective contraceptive device. As mentioned above, in a medical malpractice case, numerous parties may be held accountable for injuries resulting from a defective medical device, such as a birth control device.
In a wrongful conception case, the parents may choose to sue both the manufacturer of the defective device and or any medical professional that was associated with the negligent sterilization process. If the parents are successful in their claim against the medical professionals, organization, or manufacturer, then they may be able to recover the following damages:
What Is a Wrongful Birth?
Wrongful birth occurs when parents initiate a medical malpractice claim seeking damages for a child that was born with birth shortcomings, such as a birth defect that should have been detected prior to the birth. The wrongful birth claim may occur in a variety of different circumstances, such as by:
- The healthcare provider of a disabled child’s parents failed to properly inform the parents of the risk of having a child with the disability in question;
- Healthcare providers not performing birth control or sterilization procedures properly; or
- Healthcare providers not properly terminating a pregnancy.
In the case of a claim based on the failure to properly inform the parents of the risks a child will be born with a disability, the parents must prove that the health care provider fell below their standard of care and did not properly inform them of risks of the disability or the possibility that their child would be born with a disability.
This deviation from the standard of care may result from something as simple as the doctor misreading an ultrasound or failing to diagnose any potential birth problems. The parents must also prove that had they known the risk, they would have terminated the pregnancy or perhaps avoided conception altogether. If the parents are successful in their wrongful birth claim, then they may be awarded damages that are similar to those listed above for wrongful conception.
What Is Wrongful Life?
As opposed to a wrongful birth claim, in a wrongful life claim, the lawsuit is brought by the disabled child for damages associated with the pain and suffering of living their life with a disability. This type of legal action is rarely ever accepted, as many courts assume that being alive is far better than being dead. It is often difficult to find and present sufficient evidence that would prove a medical malpractice case for a matter that occurred more than 18 years ago.
However, there have been cases in which an individual was successful in a wrongful life claim. They were able to provide the evidence necessary to demonstrate medical malpractice on behalf of a doctor who failed to properly inform the injured party’s parents of the hardships the child would face with birth defects or disabilities.
In other words, the plaintiff (i.e., the injured party) claims that the physician or laboratory negligently failed to inform the child’s parents of the risk of bearing a genetically defective infant and henceforth prevented the parents’ right to avoid the birth altogether.
Can I Sue for Wrongful Conception, Birth, and Life?
As mentioned above, if parents or a child believe that they have a proper medical malpractice claim that resulted in injuries, then they may seek damages from the responsible healthcare provider. As such, any party that has been damaged may bring a private civil claim against the responsible party for wrongful conception, birth, or life.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Wrongful Conception, Birth, or Life Claim?
If you believe that your child was born injured as a result of the malpractice of a medical professional, you should contact a birth injury attorney.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer in your state can help you understand your state’s specific medical malpractice and birth injury laws. They can also help you understand what your legal rights and options are according to those laws. Additionally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court as needed.