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Childbirth Injuries and Medical Malpractice

How to legally handle childbirth injuries

Medical malpractice is a term which describes accidental harm done to a patient by a doctor or medical worker’s negligence or misconduct. If a medical professional fails in some aspect of his or her duties, and their failure causes you, the patient, further harm or financial or physical inconvenience, then you are within your rights to file a lawsuit and recover damages.

One of the most tragic ways in which malpractice may harm an individual or a family is childbirth injuries, especially those which cause cerebral palsy. There are numerous things which can go wrong during childbirth which are not the attending physician’s fault, but when a physician fails to take the proper care during a mother’s labor, the infant may sustain a variety of injuries: cerebral palsy, seizures, broken bones, or Erb’s or Klumpke’s palsy, which damages nerves in the infant’s arms and hands.

While these injuries may also be caused by something other than malpractice, they are frequent side-effects of a physician’s negligence during childbirth. In addition to the physical injuries which may result from an improperly conducted childbirth procedure. Doctors and obstetricians are also capable of displaying negligent behavior or incompetence both before and after a birth.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported in 2012 that hospitals and medical facilities in the United States shelled out more than $3 billion to victims of medical malpractice. Malpractice remains the third leading cause of death in America, following close behind heart disease and various types of cancers.

Types of Childbirth Injuries

There are numerous ways physicians or obstetricians may display negligence during the childbirth process. These may happen before or after the birth. Negligence during prenatal care can harm both the mother and the fetus. Examples of professional misconduct during prenatal care (on the part of either the attending physician or the obstetrician) include but are not limited to:

  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose potentially harmful medical conditions in the mother (gestational diabetes, Rh incompatibility, preeclampsia, anemia, or hypoglycemia)
  • Failure to spot or take steps to address a birth defect
  • Failure to spot or adequately treat an ectopic pregnancy
  • Failure to spot a mother’s disease which could be passed to the baby (neonatal lupus, genital herpes, etc.)

Obstetricians or doctors may also demonstrate negligence during the actual act of childbirth in some of the following ways:

  • Inability to foresee or prepare for complications during the birth regarding the baby’s size and weight
  • Not noticing that the umbilical cord is tangled
  • Missing or failing to remedy any sign of fetal distress
  • Neglecting to order or perform cesarean sections when needed
  • Misuse or incompetent use of a vacuum extractor or forceps

In 2013, Los Angeles County was forced to pay $7.5 million to the mother of a child born at the LA County-USC Medical Center. The mother alleged that negligent medical staff caused brain damage to her infant son. The 25-year-old mother, who had formerly been homeless, filed the lawsuit on behalf of her 1½-year-old son Micah, alleging that she had been 39 weeks pregnant and had experienced abdominal pains. Upon being taken from the homeless shelter to the medical center, she spent 14 hours in the labor unit before being discharged and returned to the shelter without ever having seen an obstetrician. Twelve hours later she was rushed back to the hospital again with a ruptured uterus, which the lawsuit alleges caused her son irreparable brain damage.

Liability and Childbirth Injuries

Liability in malpractice cases can be complex and confusing. To determine whether or not you have grounds for a viable childbirth injuries malpractice lawsuit, keep these two conditions in mind:

  • First, you must be able to prove that your attending physician or obstetrician committed a breach of their duty, either by deliberate misconduct or (more frequently) by negligence.
  • Second, you must be able to prove that this negligence harmed you or your baby in some fashion—either by injuring you or your baby, or by relegating you to the hospital for many days and causing you to lose wages or productivity, or by racking up high medical bills.

If these two conditions have been satisfied, you and your childbirth injuries attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against the hospital or the doctor who caused the injury to you or your infant and recover a financial settlement.

To establish whether or not the doctor or obstetrician’s mistake was preventable, your lawyer will bring in expert testimony from other natal physicians and obstetricians. This establishes the proper standard of care for the jury in civil court, who will then decide whether or not your doctor failed in their professional duties. There is unfortunately no way to determine what type of settlement or what amount you may expect to receive; it is up to the judge and jury to decide how grievous the doctor’s negligence was, and how badly you and your infant were hurt or inconvenienced by that negligence.

The Childbirth Injuries Attorneys at Estey Bomberger Can Help

This is why it’s so important to hire a childbirth injuries lawyer. A competent law firm can help you wade through the confusing maze of personal injury and malpractice law. We’ll never settle for a compensation figure that’s less than you deserve, and we spare no expense in hiring medical experts to lend their voices to your case. We routinely take cases that even other lawyers have turned down or claimed are “unwinnable” and have turned them into record-setting verdicts or settlements. If you want experienced, aggressive legal representation in the courtroom, then contact the law firm of Estey Bomberger at 1.800.925.0723 or go to www.ebtrialattorneys.com.