One of the most joyful life events is the birth of a child. Happy parents clutch their newborns and eagerly, counting their fingers and toes, making sure all is well and intact. But sometimes a problem occurs during the delivery and the child is harmed as a result of accident or negligence. The parents are devastated and seek answers to their questions about how the injuries to their baby could have occurred and who’s responsible.
Birth injuries occur when the tissues and organs of a newly delivered child are damaged during childbirth, often caused by physical pressure or trauma. Also, they can happen as a result of improper prenatal care. The injuries can have long-term effects on the child’s cognitive ability. Negligent or incorrect medical care during childbirth may cause a birth injury. During birth, an infant can sustain broken bones, brain damage, or nerve damage.
Medical doctors are not the only health care providers who can cause or contribute to a birth injury. Nurses, health care facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and other health care services also can be liable.
Common birth injuries include:
Cerebral palsy: A condition caused by brain damage that occurs while a child’s brain is still developing, before birth, during birth, or immediately after birth.
Erb’s Palsy and other nerve injuries: Erb’s palsy is a form of brachial plexus marked by the nerves of the upper arm being affected, usually after a birth injury. Loss of feeling and weakness in the arm are common symptoms of Erb’s palsy.
Complications associated with shoulder dystocia, which occurs when an infant’s head and shoulders get trapped behind the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery. Complications from this injury can be severe. The baby may experience a collarbone fracture, difficulties when breathing, a brachial plexus fracture, or death.
Bruising and forceps marks.
Birth injuries can be the result of circumstances such as breech or otherwise difficult delivery, the size of the infant, and the narrowness of the mother’s pelvis. But the following medical errors also can contribute to the incidence of injury:
Failing to foresee birth complications when the baby is large or the mother has health issues;
Not ordering cesarean section when medically necessary;
Misusing forceps or a vacuum extractor;
Improperly using Pitocin to induce or accelerate up labor;
Failing to properly stem bleeding;
Failing to correct a trapped umbilical cord; and
Failure to respond irregularities in the fetal heartbeat or other signs of distress.
Doctor, Nurse Malpractice
Parents of a child who is injured during birth due to medical error or negligence can file a medical malpractice lawsuit again the physician, medical facility, and staff. Doctors commit malpractice when they cause injury to a patient through negligence. Malpractice can occur in the doctor’s office during consultation, examination, and treatment, or in the surgery.
Common forms of medical malpractice include:
Misdiagnosis of the patient’s condition;
Prescription error – the doctor prescribes the wrong medication or fails to advise the patient of the risks or fails to consider possible drug interactions; and
Damage or injury during surgery.
Doctors are expected to treat patients with a certain standard of care. If treatment fails to meet the standard, the doctor may be liable and have to compensate a patient.
Like doctors, nurses are responsible to their patients and must exercise a standard of care to ensure patients are treated properly and without injury.
Qualified nurses are in high demand today, and the need exceeds the supply. Nurses are required to work long shifts and work many days before getting time off. Also, medical facilities may have to hire nurses with less training and experience because their budgets only can afford these nurses’ lower wages.
As a result, the incidence of nurse malpractice is on the rise. The most common areas of nurse malpractice are failure to:
Minister the correct drug or dosage;
Properly supervise a patient;
Properly monitor a patient’s condition;
Follow the doctor’s orders; and
Use certain medical procedures.
Filing a Lawsuit
If your baby was injured as a result of negligence by your doctor, nurse, hospital or other service provider, contact an attorney soon. State laws impose a limited period during which you can make a claim for your injuries. These statute of limitations typically run one to three years from either the date of the injury or the date when the injury should have been discovered.
Before filing a claim for birth injuries, consult with a lawyer to ensure that you have a viable case. Ask whether:
You had an established doctor/patient relationship established when the injury took place – if the physician delivered your baby, then a doctor/patient relationship was established;
The doctor was medically negligent while treating you; and
The negligence resulted in the birth injuries
Establishing medical malpractice involves proving complex medical and legal issues, which likely will require the consultation and testimony of expert witnesses. An attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases can arrange for expert evaluation of your condition and testimony on your behalf.
Florida Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for birth injury cases is two years from the time of the injury or within two years of the time the injury reasonably should have been discovered. At the utmost, you must file your birth injury lawsuit within four years of the injury no matter the circumstances. A lawsuit for infant wrongful death must be filed within two years of the date of death.
If the lawsuit is successful, you may be awarded compensatory damages that include payment of all medical expenses, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, loss of a normal life and loss of future earnings.
An attorney can work with you to investigate the circumstances of your case and help you document the injuries and their effects. A lawyer can ensure your child receives the competent medical attention he or she needs.
If your baby has suffered birth injuries, call us today for a free consultation with the personal injury attorneys at Madalon Law. The attorneys at Madalon Law are experienced Ft. Lauderdale medical malpractice attorneys who handle birth injury compensation claims and will put forth the best case for you. We are based in Fort Lauderdale and serve clients throughout Florida.