What Is Birth Injury Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or another health care professional’s failure to meet basic standards of care results in harm to a patient. When medical malpractice occurs at birth, the resulting birth injuries may affect a newborn for the rest of their lives.
Birth injury malpractice can cause:
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy (brachial plexus injuries)
- Shoulder dystocia
- Spinal cord damage
- Brain injuries
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
- Wrongful death
Failure to protect a mother or baby from harm during birth may be grounds for a birth injury malpractice lawsuit. These lawsuits help families afford treatments to care for their injured child.
If you believe medical malpractice led to your child’s birth injury, consult a lawyer. Skilled birth injury attorneys can study your case and help you file a lawsuit if you’re eligible.
Do you suspect your child’s birth injury was caused by medical malpractice?
Causes of Child Birth Injury Malpractice
The primary cause of birth injury malpractice is the careless or reckless behaviors of doctors.
Doctors receive years of training so they can properly care for their patients. However, some doctors disregard their training and cause short- or long-term injuries — or even death.
In 2015, a mother whose baby was born with Erb’s palsy filed a lawsuit against the delivery doctor for using excessive force while under the influence of alcohol.
Examples of Birth Injury Malpractice
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction tools
- Failure to diagnose a maternal infection that causes harm to the baby
- Misdiagnosing a life-threatening birth trauma as a less serious condition
- Performing risky surgeries or not performing a needed surgery on time
- Prescribing medications that can injure an unborn baby
- Lack of aftercare for mother and/or child
- Failure to order proper tests for the mother before delivery, such as blood tests
- Failure to recognize symptoms of jaundice or other neonatal conditions
The mother can also suffer from injuries wrongfully sustained during birth, potentially affecting her health permanently.
Some of these health issues include:
- Blood clots
- Uterine rupture
Types of Birth Injury Malpractice
Birth injury malpractice is sometimes classified based on the specific condition that a baby was diagnosed with. Learn how birth injury malpractice can cause health problems like Erb’s palsy and cerebral palsy below.
Cerebral Palsy Malpractice
Cerebral palsy is a permanent disability caused by brain damage that affects muscle control and/or mental function. While some cases develop due to factors out of anyone’s control (like genetic mutations), others have been linked to the mistakes or carelessness of doctors.
Examples of cerebral palsy malpractice include:
- Failure to treat meningitis, encephalitis, or jaundice (all of which can cause brain damage)
- Incorrect monitoring of fetal heart rate during delivery
- Improper use of delivery tools, like forceps, that leads to brain damage
Cerebral palsy and medical malpractice were linked in a 2015 lawsuit. A family claimed the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital failed to properly monitor their son for fetal distress during delivery, and as a result, he was born with cerebral palsy. The jury in the case awarded the family $15 million.
There are also many other situations that could be considered cerebral palsy malpractice not listed above. A birth injury attorney can help determine if your child developed cerebral palsy due to medical malpractice.
Erb’s Palsy Malpractice
Erb’s palsy occurs when a group of nerves in the shoulder called the brachial plexus gets pulled away from the neck. This can lead to numbness, weakness, or even paralysis of the arm, shoulder, and/or hand.
Erb’s palsy malpractice cases must explain how a medical professional caused nerve damage in the child’s shoulder. For example, a 2016 lawsuit claimed that a midwife improperly pulled on a baby at the time of birth. The jury found the midwife had committed Erb’s palsy medical malpractice and awarded the family $4.2 million.
What to Do If You Suspect Birth Injury Malpractice
If you believe your child was harmed by birth injury malpractice, first make sure their condition is not immediately life-threatening. For example, meningitis and other conditions or infections can be fatal if left untreated.
Once you know your baby is not in danger, take note of their health, identifying symptoms of the birth injury and getting a proper diagnosis if you haven’t already. You can also write down what you remember about the medical care you and your child received and what actions your doctors took.
Finally, consider contacting an experienced birth injury lawyer to begin pursuing the compensation you deserve.
Do you suspect your child’s birth injury was caused by medical malpractice?
Seeking Birth Injury Malpractice Compensation
Birth injuries are traumatic, both emotionally and financially. For example, care costs for a child with cerebral palsy can be 26 times higher than someone without the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Thankfully, you may be able to access compensation from the doctors that harmed your child.
Birth injury malpractice compensation can help cover:
- Adaptive equipment
- Birth injury care plans
- Emotional damages (pain and suffering)
- Loss of earnings
- Medical expenses (medication and surgery)
- Physical, speech, and occupational therapy
To pursue compensation, connect with a birth injury attorney. They can build a case that explains why you need compensation and file a birth injury lawsuit on your behalf.
How Do You Prove Birth Injury Malpractice?
To prove a birth injury malpractice case, your lawyers will need to show that the doctor who delivered your child did something they knew could cause potential harm.
This is done in four steps:
- Establish the existence of a patient-doctor relationship, noting that the expectant mother sought care from the doctor
- Show how the doctor in question was negligent
- Explain how the doctor’s negligence harmed the child
- Determine what damages were caused by this injury (such as loss of income, pain and suffering, medical bills, etc.)
Lawyers will typically gather evidence, including medical records and testimonies from you or your loved ones, to support your birth injury malpractice claim.
Birth Injury Medical Malpractice FAQ
How common is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death after cancer and heart disease. In 2016, Johns Hopkins Medicine found that medical errors accounted for 250,000 deaths In the United States. These statistics cover patients of all ages, but birth injuries specifically are a common occurrence in malpractice cases.
Many hospitals and health care centers avoid these topics of conversation for obvious reasons. However, it is essential to know that negligence is not impossible.
What is the most common reason for malpractice?
Malpractice involving newborns most commonly occurs when doctors don’t properly treat injuries.
According to data released in 2019, 63% of all birth injury cases involving infants were related to the treatment of childbirth injuries. The second most common cause of birth injury malpractice lawsuits, at 14%, was failure to diagnose.
What is the difference between medical malpractice and medical negligence?
In a birth injury malpractice case, a doctor understands the possible risks to a patient but ignores them. Medical negligence is slightly different: it is any mistake that a doctor makes that harms the patient.
For example, a doctor who uses excessive force to deliver a baby may have committed malpractice since they knew doing so could cause harm. On the other hand, a doctor who fails to diagnose an infection in an expectant mother may be guilty of medical negligence since they made a mistake.
Is birth injury malpractice difficult to prove?
Birth injury malpractice is not hard to prove if you have the right lawyer by your side. A skilled birth injury attorney can build a strong case on your behalf to show how the doctors that delivered your child committed medical malpractice.
How much is a birth injury medical malpractice claim worth?
Between 2009 and 2014, medical malpractice claims relating to obstetrics (childbirth) awarded an average of $447,034. 12.5% of these cases awarded over $1 million. In 2012 alone, over $3 billion was awarded in medical malpractice compensation payouts.
The value of your birth injury malpractice claim will depend on the type of injury your child suffered, the strength of your evidence, and other factors. Get a better idea of your potential case value by contacting our team at (800) 914-1562.
Contact a Birth Injury Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If your child suffered a preventable birth injury because of medical malpractice, it is your right to seek legal compensation.
Caring and skilled lawyers are available to listen to your story and start the legal process if you qualify. It is best to consult a birth injury law firm that has handled other medical malpractice and personal injury claims successfully.
To see if you’re eligible to file a cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy malpractice claim, our team of Patient Advocates can connect you with a legal partner. Get started today with a free case review.
The help you need may be just around the corner.