When it comes to having children, your work as a parent begins long before birth. From buying baby clothes to decorating the nursery, you can expect to be busy for the entire nine months. However, it’s important not to get so absorbed in these exciting preparations that you neglect the most important part of having a baby: ensuring that mother and child are healthy. There’s a lot that the parents can do to make sure a child is nourished and cared for in the womb, but ultimately parents rely on their doctor for monitoring their child’s development and, eventually, bringing the baby safely into the world. Unfortunately, doctors are occasionally negligent in this capacity and cause injuries to the mother, child, or both.
Birth-related medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other hospital staff member acts negligently when providing medical services to a mother or her child. In this context, negligence is generally understood as a medical professional’s failure to provide the standard of care that a reasonable professional in the community would usually follow. In this post, we will discuss a few of the most common forms of birth-related medical malpractice that result when a medical professional falls below this standard of care.
Injuries During Birth
Most doctors and hospital staff are experienced professionals who can deliver a child without complications. However, negligence does occur and can have a devastating impact on newborns and their families. A great deal of birth-related medical malpractice cases stem from injuries that occur during labor and the delivery process, such as the following:
- Erb’s Palsy: Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy, known as Erb’s Palsy, is nerve damage that results from a baby’s neck and/or shoulder being excessively stretched during birth. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that as many as two out of every thousand babies are affected by this condition. Symptoms include weakness, numbness, and loss of motion in the newborn’s arms. Most babies recover feeling and motor function within a couple of months, but others require extensive surgery and physical therapy to treat the condition.
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy: Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) refers to a shortage of oxygen to a baby’s brain during delivery. This oxygen deprivation can kill brain cells if it persists for too long, and can lead to brain damage, developmental problems, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and death.
- Bone Fractures: Sometimes a baby suffers broken bones during delivery, and the most commonly broken bone in this context is the collar bone. Fractures may be unavoidable during an unforeseeably difficult delivery, but a doctor can also negligently fail to catch complications ahead of time and order a C-section in order to avoid injuries to the baby.
These are only a few of the many injuries that a baby can suffer as a result of medical malpractice during delivery. When a child has a medical malpractice claim based on one of the above injuries or others, a parent or guardian will bring it on their behalf as their legal guardian. Generally, parents/guardians will be able to seek general and special damages for the newborn’s physical and mental pain and suffering, as well as the child’s loss of enjoyment of their life.
Most babies are born happy and healthy. Unfortunately, sometimes negligence on the part of medical professionals results in a baby being born with debilitating birth defects. If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim based on injuries suffered during labor or delivery, then you should seek a consultation with a medical malpractice attorney immediately to discuss your options and to ensure that you receive every remedy to which you and your child are entitled.