Bringing a new baby into the world is every parent’s greatest joy. Most pregnant women deliver healthy babies with few complications. Sometimes, however, the delivery process can lead to birth injury, and the consequences are often catastrophic for both infant and family. Some birth injuries cannot be avoided, but others are sometimes caused by negligent members of the hospital staff.
When Birth Injuries Occur
Birth injuries are injuries that infants or mothers sustain just prior to, during, or after the delivery process. Some of these injuries cannot be prevented, but some are the result of the negligent or willful actions of the medical team involved. When the negligence of a member of the hospital staff is determined to be medically responsible for a mother or her infant’s birth injury, that professional can be ordered to compensate the infant and the parents for damages suffered. Such damages include the following:
- Medical expenses (past, current, future, and ongoing)
- Pain and suffering
- Diminishment of life’s enjoyments
- Loss of future earnings
In certain circumstances, punitive damages may also be awarded. Many people assume that only the delivering obstetrician can be held accountable for a birth injury. Yet any negligent member of your hospital staff or medical team can be held accountable for a birth injury that affects either you or your infant and that is a result of that medical professional’s negligence.
There are several conditions found in newborns that are typically associated with birth injuries, such as:
- Facial paralysis
- Swelling of the head or scalp
- Blood clots or hemorrhages
- Brachial plexus injury (weakness or loss of feeling or movement in the shoulder, arm, or hand)
- Dejerine-Klumpke palsy or Klumpke paralysis (partial palsy of the lower brachial plexus)
- Birth asphyxia, which can lead to fetal stroke
- Strangulation or injury caused by the umbilical cord
- Brain injuries caused by lack of oxygen
- Damage to the spinal cord
- Cephalohematoma (pooling of blood under the scalp)
- Cerebral palsy (disorder of movement, muscle tone, or posture)
- Erb’s palsy (palsy of the arm)
- Bone fractures
- Shoulder dystocia (a maternal and fetal risk factor caused by a fetal shoulder-obstruction that leads to a slow, difficult, or dangerous birth)
Medical negligence—or medical malpractice—occurs when medical professionals fail to provide medical care that is in accordance with their standard of duty. Medical professionals, in other words, should provide at least that level of care that their fellow medical professionals would ordinarily provide under similar circumstances. During delivery, for example, an obstetrician should follow the medical protocols that other reasonably prudent obstetricians in similar situations would normally follow.
Birth injuries are often extremely serious, and the negative consequences are usually permanent. If a birth injury is caused by someone else’s negligence, the law takes that negligence into consideration when apportioning responsibility. The hospital itself can be found legally responsible for its own corporate negligence; the hospital can also be found vicariously liable for negligence on behalf of its employees and medical personnel. In fact, even the pharmaceutical company involved can be found responsible or share in responsibility in a birth injury case.
Negligent Hospital Staff Members
Hospital staff members—including doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel—whose actions throughout, just before, or right after the delivery are found to be negligent can be held responsible for any birth injuries you and your newborn child may suffer as a result. Medical facilities and hospitals have the additional duty of hiring adequate staff to provide necessary care and for verifying that their staff members have the appropriate credentials, training, and education to provide care that meets medical-industry regulations. In fact, the responsibility factor for birth injury cases can sink deep into the medical organization, and ascertain exact responsibility is often an intricate and complicated process.
What to Expect when Expecting
Welcoming a new baby into your family is one of life’s most precious joys. While no childbirth is without risk, expecting parents have every right to maintain the reasonable expectation that every member of their medical team will act in good-faith accordance with the industry’s code of standards and regulations. A birth injury can turn a joyful experience into a tragedy that can permanently scar both your infant and your family.
You and Your Newborn
You and your unborn baby deserve to receive medical attention that meets modern standards, and if a member of your hospital staff fails to provide you with such, your infant could suffer irreparable damage. The potential consequences of medical negligence by hospital staff members are so significant that, if your child suffers from a birth injury, you should seek experienced legal counsel immediately. As difficult as your situation undoubtedly is, it is in your child’s and your family’s best interest to act quickly. Apportioning responsibility in birth injury cases is notoriously complicated. Your birth injury attorney will need to quickly begin the process of collecting evidence, interviewing your medical team, consulting with medical experts, and determining who is at fault in your unique birth injury case.
Consult with a Clearwater Birth Injury Lawyer Today
Most newborns are delivered safely to ecstatic young families. In fact, childbirth is much less dangerous than it once was. Nevertheless, birth injuries still happen, and these injuries are sometimes caused by negligent hospital staff members. Building a case that clearly illustrates this negligence, however, can be very difficult. If you or your baby suffered a birth injury due to hospital staff member’s negligence, you require skilled legal counsel. Contact an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as you can after you discover the injury. The experienced Clearwater birth injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group are dedicated to protecting the rights of birth injury victims and their families, and we are here to help. We have the experience, skill, and commitment to bring your birth injury case to its best possible resolution. Please contact or call us at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation today.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765