Birth injuries are injuries sustained by the baby or mother before, during, or after delivery. In some cases, this trauma is preventable. Obstetricians, nurses, midwives, hospitals, and other medical providers and facilities are held to a specific standard of care. Failure to meet this standard may have serious or even fatal consequences.
If you or your child has sustained a birth injury due to the negligence of a healthcare provider or facility, you may be eligible to file a legal claim for birth-injury-related medical malpractice. You deserve compassionate, experienced legal representation to help you through this hard time without the added stress of navigating the Florida legal system.
Examples of Child-Birth-Related Medical Malpractice
Every birth experience is different, but healthcare providers can make a few serious mistakes that could have permanent consequences for the mother or baby. The failure to take action can form the basis for medical malpractice. This includes failing to do the following:
- Order a cesarean section (C-section) when one is medically necessary;
- Anticipate birthing complications such as twisted or pinched umbilical cords;
- Properly use medical equipment like forceps and vacuum extractors;
- Respond appropriately to fetal or maternal bleeding;
- Monitor and address signs of fetal or maternal distress, including abnormal heart rate, blood pressure, or oxygen deprivation;
- Treat conditions during pregnancy such as maternal infections, gestational diabetes, or meningitis; and
- Properly care for and monitor the mother and infant post-delivery.
Failing to do any of these things and more can cause things to go wrong during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
When Is a Birth Injury Medical Malpractice?
If the action or inaction of a healthcare professional or facility resulted in a birth injury for your child, you might have a valid claim of medical malpractice for childbirth. Keep in mind that you only have two years to file a claim from the date the malpractice occurred or was discovered. And to establish a successful claim, you will need to prove the following four elements.
Duty of Care
The first crucial element is determining that there was a patient-physician relationship between the healthcare provider and the injured mother (and, consequently, the injured child). If a patient-physician relationship exists, the healthcare provider or facility has a duty to provide the care, skill, and treatment that a reasonably prudent practitioner would under the same or similar circumstances. In other words, your doctor must provide care that meets or exceeds medical standards of care under the circumstances.
Breach of Duty
Once it’s established that your provider owes you a duty of care, it is necessary to show that the provider breached that duty. This generally means that there was a failure to adhere to the standard of care that is recognized and accepted in the industry. This could be a failure to diagnose, provide correct treatment, contact a specialist, and much more.
It is important to show that there is a direct link between the action or inaction of the liable party and the birth injury. You must be able to show proof that the birth injury would not have occurred if the healthcare provider had acted reasonably.
The resulting damages must be compensable. For example, suppose your doctor could have ordered a C-section but chose not to. If no damage actually occurred, there is no loss to compensate.
Common Birth Injuries
The vast majority of births turn out just fine, but there are some that go wrong every day. Let’s look at some of the most common birth injuries related to medical malpractice.
- Cerebral Palsy (CP)—CP may occur when medical staff fails to properly manage a placenta, umbilical cord, or uterine rupture.
- Brachial Plexus injury—During the delivery, the nerves that run from the neck to the chest and armpit may stretch, pull, or tear.
- Spinal cord injuries—These are less common but may cause reduced feeling, immobility, spasms, and weakness.
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)—HIE generally refers to brain dysfunction due to lack of oxygen or blood flow.
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage—Long or strenuous births may cause blood vessels below the infant’s eyes to rupture. This could be temporary or cause blindness, seizures, or lethargy.
- Bone fractures—The collar bone is the most common fracture in newborns, but more traumatic births may result in broken legs and arms.
- Cephalohematoma—Deliveries involving vacuum extractors or forceps may cause blood vessels to rupture and pool blood between the skin and skull. There is a risk of seizures, pain, and head swelling.
The mother may also suffer from malpractice if she is not monitored correctly. She could get seizures from high or low blood pressure, and an improperly placed epidural or unsterile c-section could also lead to long-term complications.
Contact a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney
When a birth injury is caused by medical malpractice, you have legal options for recovery. The experienced team at James Horne Law PA is committed to helping you cope with this difficult situation. Nothing is more precious than your child, and you deserve to receive the high standard of care expected from your healthcare provider. We work on contingency, so we do not get paid unless you do. Contact us to schedule an appointment.