How Can You Tell if a Birth Injury Was the Result of Malpractice?
Birth injuries are some of the most tragic forms of medical malpractice. If a doctor or another medical professional harms a mother or an infant through negligence, the injured parties are entitled to compensation. It is important to consult with a birth injury lawyer in Baltimore to determine whether or not you have grounds for a malpractice case. The determination must be made on an individual basis, according to the facts of the case.
How Can You Tell if a Birth Injury Was the Result of Malpractice?
While not every birth injury is the result of a doctor’s negligence, medical malpractice is more common than you might think. With today’s modern medical advances, responsible doctors are fully equipped to deliver babies safely in most situations. If you or your newborn develops a medical condition or an injury following childbirth, there is a strong likelihood that you have grounds for a malpractice case.
Since every case has its own set of facts that are reviewed to determine whether or not malpractice occurred, it is impossible to provide a standard method for understanding whether or not negligence came into play in your situation. There are, however, several conditions to watch for that are often the result of malpractice. Getting the opinion of an expert witness, such as another doctor or a rehabilitation therapist, can also help determine whether or not malpractice occurred.
When Are Birth Injuries Caused by Malpractice?
In the context of childbirth, malpractice is defined as the negligent actions of a medical professional that directly cause a mother or infant to experience injury or death. Usually, the negligence in question represents a deviation from the standard of care established by the American College of Obstetricians. According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA), 4 conditions must exist for a case to constitute malpractice:
The Doctor-Patient Relationship
People cannot sue one another for malpractice on the basis of casual medical advice gone wrong. For a birth injury case to be considered malpractice, the mother must be able to show that an official doctor-patient relationship existed between herself and the doctor in question.
The Departure From the Standard of Care
The standard of care is a subjective legal term that refers to the usual protocols and precautions that are observed within the medical community for each given condition. It can also refer to the most basic, minimal level of care a doctor owes a patient. Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional commits an error or an oversight that constitutes a departure from the standard of care.
The term damages refers to the injuries or conditions a mother or an infant suffers as a result of medical negligence. In a wrongful death case, negligence results in the death of the mother or infant. When medical professionals fail to diagnose a condition or monitor the birthing process correctly, the damages include any medical problems resulting from their oversight.
In a medical malpractice case, damages are expressed in terms of the negative ways they impact patients’ lives. For example, plaintiffs might seek compensation for:
- Medical treatments needed to treat the birth injury
- Rehabilitation therapy
- At-home medical equipment
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional stress
The Direct Causal Link
The last condition that must be proved in a malpractice case is a direct causal link between the birth injury and medical negligence. If a doctor acts negligently but the injury would have occurred anyway, there is no case. A common defense tactic is to argue that the patients’ injuries were unavoidable, however, a skilled medical malpractice lawyer can often disprove this argument.
What Types of Birth Injuries Does Medical Negligence Cause in Infants?
There are several medical conditions that commonly result from negligent actions on the part of the medical professionals overseeing the childbirth process. It is worth speaking with a lawyer about the possibility of filing a medical malpractice claim if your infant shows signs of:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
- Damage to the Brachial plexus
What Kinds of Negligent Actions Result in Birth Injuries?
When delivering a baby, doctors need to be vigilant of the mother at all times, recognizing the warning signs early when something is wrong. They must always be wary of using excessive force and working with surgical instruments. Here are some examples of medical negligence that lead to birth injuries all too often:
Failure to Monitor
It is essential for doctors to keep a constant watch over the mother’s blood pressure and other vital signs, even when the childbirth appears to be going smoothly. A failure to monitor both the mother and the baby can result in catastrophic injuries that go undetected. For example, the medical team might miss signs of internal bleeding if they are not constantly observing the mother’s blood pressure.
Failure to Order a C-Section
Emergency C-sections must be done in a timely manner in order to prevent catastrophic injury to the mother and/or the baby. When mothers experience complications during a vaginal delivery, doctors have a narrow window of time in which they must identify the warning signs before it is too late. A failure to order the C-section in time constitutes medical negligence.
Incorrect Use of Surgical Instruments or Excessive Force
Forceps and other surgical instruments are rarely used in childbirth because of their potential to injure infants. However, doctors may resort to using them during an extremely difficult delivery. Using surgical instruments carelessly can cause mild to severe injuries in the newborn.
Even without instruments, a careless doctor has the potential to harm an infant by using excessive force. For example, maneuvering an infant incorrectly often leads to injuries in the brachial plexus nerves that run from the back of the neck into the upper arms.
The Importance of Receiving Compensation
If you or your infant experienced a birth injury from medical malpractice, receiving compensation can help finance the care your family needs. If the doctor’s negligent actions caused cerebral palsy or another lifelong condition, ongoing treatments or therapies may be needed to improve their quality of life. Additionally, while compensation cannot undo the wrong, it can help your family find a sense of justice and closure.
How a Birth Injury Lawyer in Baltimore Can Help
Proving medical malpractice is a serious process that requires you to follow strict legal protocols, including observing the statute of limitations, securing a medical board review of your case, and obtaining the testimony of an expert witness. An experienced lawyer can guide you every step of the way, helping you take actions that strengthen your case, rather than jeopardize it.
Your lawyer should advise you on how to collect evidence according to a clear legal strategy. When it comes time to negotiate for a settlement or litigate on your behalf, your lawyer should leverage a wealth of legal expertise. For that reason, it is important to choose a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice cases.
In addition to causing unimaginable distress, birth injuries usually involve costly treatments that take an unexpected toll on your family. You have the right to seek compensation from any doctor who harmed you or your baby. To get in touch with a birth injury lawyer in Baltimore, contact Peter Angelos Law, today.