Understanding the Causes of Medical Negligence and Birth Injuries

3 min read

child birth injury

Pregnancy and becoming a new mother is often portrayed as an idyllic time. However, many things can go wrong without proper care.

Complications can occur before, during, and after birth that can lead to birth injuries if not correctly managed by medical professionals.

While some complications are unavoidable, others could have been prevented or properly handled by the doctors and other medical professionals caring for the mother and child.

If something goes wrong during pregnancy, labor, or after birth that injures the baby that could have been prevented by proper medical care, then the doctor may be medically negligent.

Medical Negligence and Birth Injuries

Different types of medical negligence can occur during pregnancy, birth, or after birth. All of them can cause birth injuries that have lifelong impacts on your child.

Medical Negligence During Pregnancy

Complications can arise during pregnancy that can result in a birth injury include:

  • A doctor may fail to recognize the signs of premature delivery, or they may fail to prescribe medications that will either stop the preterm labor or speed up the infant’s lung development to prepare the child for early delivery.
  • A doctor may prescribe a medication or treatment to the mother that harms the developing fetus.
  • A doctor may fail to diagnose a condition, such as genital herpes, which increases the likelihood of complications during delivery.
  • A doctor may give the mother incorrect advice for gestational diabetes.

Medical Negligence During Birth

There are also many ways that the attending physician could be negligent during the child’s birth.

These include:

  • The newborn’s head could swell due to a vacuum extraction or an extended head-first delivery. This is called caput succedaneum, and the condition usually goes away within a few days.
  • Vacuum extraction can also cause cephalohematoma, which is when blood gathers between the skin and cranial bone. This type of injury usually clears up within three months.
  • Doctors can also cause Erb’s palsy by stretching the baby’s neck or shoulder, which damages the nerves that are responsible for sensation, strength, and motion in the child’s arms. Most babies will recover the movement and feeling in their arms, but some will need surgery and physical therapy.
  • The doctors can also misread the child’s vital signs and allow the delivery to go on for too long, which can starve the baby’s brain of oxygen and cause developmental problems, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, or even death.
  • Doctors could miss other potential complications, which could lead to clavicle or collarbone fractures.

Medical Negligence After Birth

After birth, the doctor may be considered negligent if they fail to monitor the infant’s oxygen levels or test the baby and mother to see if their blood types are compatible. If the doctor fails to check the child for jaundice, the baby may develop kernicterus, a potentially fatal neurological condition.

Determining Medical Negligence

Parents may be able to take legal action if medical negligence occurred and resulted in an injury to their baby. However, first, the parents need to prove based on their child’s injuries and conditions that medical negligence took place.

The first step is to determine the medical standard of care — what level of care the average obstetrician would have provided in the same circumstances. Then you must show how your doctor failed to meet that standard.

Raising a child with a birth injury isn’t easy, and going through a medical negligence case can be confusing, complicated, and emotionally trying.

To lower some of the pressure and stress, take your case to an experienced birth injury lawyer who can review your claim. A birth injury attorney can help you prove that medical negligence played a role in your child’s injury.

To have your case reviewed for free, contact the Birth injury Justice Center today.

Birth Injury Support Team

The Birth Injury Justice Center was founded in 2003 by a team of legal professionals to educate and empower victims and families affected by birth injuries. Our team is devoted to providing you with the best resources and legal information for all types of birth injuries.

View Sources
  1. Medical Malpractice During Childbirth: A Legal Overview. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/medical-malpractice/childbirth.html
  2. Birth Injury. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.justia.com/injury/medical-malpractice/common-types-of-medical-malpractice/birth-injury/
  3. What Is Obstetric Negligence? (June 25, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/what-is-obstetric-negligence.html