It's one of the most joyful occasions in your life: the birth of your baby. While most deliveries do not harm your baby, the unfortunate reality is that sometimes, doctors make mistakes that could have been avoided. Some mistakes can harm the health and wellbeing of your new bundle of joy. This is called a birth injury. It is estimated that in the United States, for every 1,000 babies born, five are injured during birth.
Some complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery can leave a baby injured, even though the doctor did not make a mistake. However, if the doctor made a mistake such as improper use of tools during delivery, or prescribed a medicine that ended up being harmful during pregnancy, you may have a claim for medical malpractice.
Examples of a doctor's mistakes that can lead to birth injury are:
- Prescribing drugs to the mother during pregnancy that harmed the fetus
- Failure to catch pregnancy complications such as hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Failure to perform a medically necessary C-section when a vaginal delivery was not the safest option
- Incorrect use of medical tools such as a vacuum or forceps during delivery, resulting in severe head injuries to the baby
- Failure to correctly assess the baby's overall health in the womb, during pregnancy, resulting in failure to treat certain conditions
If your baby has a birth defect, it can be difficult to tell if there was anything the doctor could have done to avoid it - or if the doctor missed something or made a mistake. For example, if a baby is born with cerebral palsy, one reason could be that the doctor did not give the baby enough oxygen during the labor process. Other times, the defect is unpreventable. A medical malpractice attorney can help you distinguish between a preventable condition, and one that was unavoidable. It is estimated that 7 percent of babies are born with birth defects.
Who is responsible for the birth injury?
If your baby suffered a birth injury, it is important to know who you can sue or who is responsible for such a devastating mistake. In a medical malpractice suit, the following people or places can be held accountable if they caused a birth injury:
- The obstetrician or doctor
- The hospital where the delivery took place
- The medical staff at the hospital including nurses, nurse practitioners and physician's assistants (this falls under hospital negligence)
- The pharmaceutical company that manufactured the prescription drugs that the mother took during pregnancy
When a medical malpractice attorney looks at your case, they will consult with a medical expert who can explain whether the birth injury was avoidable. Along with damages for the birth injury to the baby, parents can seek damages for emotional distress, as a birth injury likely comes with deep agony to the parents. A medical malpractice attorney skilled in the area of birth injuries can help answer questions if you are unsure of what to do when you suspect your baby was injured during birth because of a mistake.