Premature children can be at risk to develop retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) which is an eye disease that puts newborns at risk for permanent blindness. While this condition can have potentially dire consequences, it can be treated save the child’s eyesight as long as a doctor catches it in time. Unfortunately, some doctors can deviate from the standard of care and fail to prevent retinopathy of prematurity in what can be considered medical malpractice.
If your child suffers from blindness caused by retinopathy of prematurity you may qualify to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in order to cover the related damages. Healthcare providers such as pediatricians, neonatologists, ophthalmologists, or even institutions like hospitals can be considered liable for medical malpractice that causes retinopathy of prematurity.
Why Choose Dolman Law Group for Your Retinopathy of Prematurity Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Dolman Law Group is a personal injury firm that provides award-winning legal representation to those harmed by the negligent actions of others. We specialize in medical malpractice lawsuits and have successfully gotten our clients' satisfactory compensation in a range of cases involving everything from surgical negligence to birth injuries.
The medical malpractice lawyers of Dolman Law Group can provide you with experienced legal insight garnered over years of litigation in order to put your case in the best position for success. Our medical malpractice lawyers work closely with clients through every step of the process from contacting the liable parties, to the negotiation of a settlement, and even to the courtroom if a trial is necessary. Our firm does not back down and has built a reputation for diligence and obstinancy in order to help our clients get the compensation that can get their lives back on track.
Dolman Law Group offers free consultations to those with children that suffer from retinopathy of prematurity-related blindness. Contact our firm today at 727-451-6900 or fill out our website’s contact form for a no-obligation consultation.
What is Retinopathy of Prematurity?
Retinopathy of prematurity, also known as retrolental fibroplasia or Terry syndrome, is an eye disease that can affect premature or low birthweight newborn children. In most cases, retinopathy of prematurity will actually go away on its own with no treatment required and no serious consequences. However, ROP does have the potential to advance and cause blindness in infants should it progress.
Retinopathy of prematurity occurs when the blood vessels in the retina start to grow abnormally in a process known as neovascularization. The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of your eye and is an integral part of its ability to see. So if the blood vessels’ abnormal growth proceeds far enough in the wrong direction they can pull the retina off and render a baby blind.
The Stages of Retinopathy of Prematurity
Stages 1 and 2: Newborns in these early stages will usually not require treatment and get better on their own. Most cases of ROP are diagnosed and monitored closely at this point.
Stage 3: While some babies will still recover on their own at this point, others will need treatment to prevent their enlarged and twisted blood vessels in the eye known as “plus disease”, from causing the retina to detach.
Stage 4: Babies in stage 4 have partially detached retinas and need treatment.
Stage 5: At this point, the baby’s retina detaches completely. Even with treatment, babies in stage 5 ROP may suffer vision loss or blindness.
Who is at Risk of Retinopathy of Prematurity
14,000 to 16,000 babies are born with retinopathy of prematurity every year. It is not at all an uncommon condition. ROP is an issue that arises predominantly in babies born before 31 weeks of gestation and of a weight of 2.75 pounds or less. Generally, the earlier the baby is born or the lower weight they are, the higher the risk they develop retinopathy of prematurity. Other risk factors include:
- Oxygen toxicity
- Blood transfusion
- Respiratory issues
This is because the blood vessels around the retina tend to develop abnormally when there is an issue with the baby getting enough oxygen and nutrients. The eyes are one of the last things to develop in the womb in the last 12 weeks of the pregnancy so premature birth can pose developmental issues with regard to this.
Eye Injuries Caused by Retinopathy of Prematurity
- Retinal detachment
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
Damages Caused by Retinopathy of Prematurity
Children that suffer from the effects of retinopathy of prematurity are likely to face significant obstacles in their life because of their condition. Any damage to the eyes can drastically affect a person’s ability to learn, work, or otherwise lead a normal life. Suffice to say, that the losses both economic and otherwise caused by this are severe. A medical malpractice lawsuit takes into account the full breadth of losses a child can suffer because of retinopathy of prematurity over their entire life.
The compensation recovered for these losses are known as damages and make up the foundation of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Economic damages such as medical bills, lost earning potential make up a significant portion of these losses and are some of the primary damages sought through medical malpractice lawsuits.
There are also non-economic damages that don’t involve a direct monetary value such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent disfigurement. These damages don’t have a tangible dollar value but a medical malpractice lawsuit can get compensation for them.
Retinopathy of Prematurity and Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice does not simply constitute a doctor making a mistake that harms a patient. Yes, doctors owe their patients a duty to provide safe medical treatment but there are many situations where errors occur because of innate risks of treatment or unavoidable circumstances.
Instead, medical malpractice involves a healthcare provider deviating from the standard of care in a way that causes harm to their patient. The standard of care is the accepted quality of medical treatment healthcare professionals are expected to provide. This standard of care is determined through comparison to what a doctor’s peers would do in a similar situation. Deviation from the proper procedure or acts or omissions from treatment that are outside the norm and such are generally how medical malpractice is perpetrated.
How Doctors Cause Retinopathy of Prematurity Through Medical Malpractice
Retinopathy of prematurity is treatable and potential blindness can be avoided but this requires that doctors (specifically pediatricians, neonatologists, and ophthalmologists) diagnose the condition before complications arise. Babies born prematurely should be checked for ROP and in the event that they do have it, they should be monitored and treated as necessary.
Screening for retinopathy of prematurity should begin within one week of birth and should continue until it is verified that an infant is no longer at risk. Doctors need to check at regular intervals for signs of progression like Plus Disease does not develop.
Treatment of Retinopathy of Prematurity
- If your infant’s doctor sees symptoms of retinopathy of prematurity and it progresses to the point that their eyes are in danger then they will need to get treatment to prevent permanent damage. This treatment may consist of:
- Oxygen treatment
- Cryotherapy to freeze and prevent abnormal blood vessels from spreading
- Retinal ablation laser therapy (photocoagulation)
- Placement of a silicone band (scleral buckle) around the eye
- Removing the vitreous and replacing it with a saline solution (vitrectomy)
- Retina repair surgery
These treatments can prevent ROP from causing serious damage that can impair a child’s sight but medical malpractice can also involve issues with the follow-up of ROP screening.
There are some cases where children have had retinopathy of prematurity progress to the point that it causes permanent damage because a healthcare provider failed to instruct parents to seek follow-up care and monitoring of a child’s condition. Doctors may fail to properly transfer a child to the care of a specialist or fail to provide follow-up care in a timely manner which can be considered medical malpractice.
How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help
Medical malpractice lawsuits require an experienced hand otherwise there is a very high risk of easy mistakes being made that can ruin a case. The damages inflicted by medical malpractice are typically very severe so it is within a plaintiff’s best interest to not hold back on getting the best help possible when filing a lawsuit.
An experienced medical malpractice birth injury lawyer can assist you in almost every aspect of your case. They provide experienced legal insight and representation but also can levy their extensive resources to strengthen your case.
Medical malpractice lawyers network with reliable expert witnesses and specialists whose opinions can be invaluable to your case. A medical malpractice attorney will know what to look for and where in your case in order to establish that those liable for your damages were negligent so you can get the maximum amount of compensation.
Contact Dolman Law Group For Help With Your Retinopathy of Prematurity Lawsuit
Dolman Law Group’s medical malpractice lawyers have been serving the people of Florida and now people across the country for years. Our clients can speak to the thoroughness of our firm and our empathy for the situations medical malpractice puts many innocent people in.
Our medical malpractice lawyers are now representing plaintiffs that are considering filing lawsuits because their child was blinded by retinopathy of prematurity. Taking legal action over medical malpractice not only helps to secure compensation for damages you have suffered like medical bills or mental anguish but also helps to ensure that these kinds of mistakes do not occur again.
Dolman Law Group offers free consultations to prospective clients curious about whether or not they can take legal action over their child’s eye injuries. Our medical malpractice attorneys are happy to listen to the details of your case and advise you on your legal options and what they can do to help. Contact our office at 727-451-6900 or fill out our website’s contact form for a no-obligation consultation today.