Birth injuries and medical malpractice occur when a physician acts negligently and fails to uphold the standard quality of medical care that’s require by medical professionals. When doctor negligence happens, it can lead to several injuries either during pregnancy, or during and shortly after childbirth. Common reasons for doctor negligence include:
- Failure to inform parents of an infant’s abnormality, resulting in wrongful birth
- Failure to properly help parents avoid a pregnancy, such as a botched hysterectomy, resulting in wrongful pregnancy
- Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis
Birth Injuries and Injuries to the Mother
Negligent doctors can make an array of mistakes that lead to injuries to both mother and baby. In some instances, the injuries are minor and the baby and mother will go on to heal. However, in other cases, the injuries are so severe that they result in a lifetime of medical and cognitive problems.
The most common birth injuries occur due to:
- Improper use of birth-assisting tools
- Failing to properly detect and treat fetal distress
- Failing to schedule and perform and emergency cesarean section (C-section)
- Failing to monitor and control oxygen intake.
The most common reasons for maternal injuries include:
- Failure to prevent and/or control hemmoraghing
- Failure to prevent and/control perineal tearing
- Failure to diagnose and treat preeclampsia
- Failure to diagnose and treat maternal diabetes
- Failure to diagnose and treat maternal infections, such as group B strep, chicken pox
In wrongful birth cases, the parents state that the doctor failed to warn about an infant’s abnormalities; if they have been informed, they would have underwent an elective abortion.
In most instances, wrong birth occurs when:
- The doctor failed to screen for infant abnormalities during pregnancy, or
- The doctor failed to give the parents the proper results
Wrongful pregnancy occurs when a woman becomes pregnant even though methods to avoid pregnancy were carried out, such as sterilization.
Even if an infant is born healthy, without any disabilities or disorders, parent still have the right to file for damages against the medical expert who administered the surgery or any other method to prevent pregnancy.
For example, in a recent wrongful pregnancy lawsuit, Cynthia Williams, of Chicago, became pregnant after undergoing a tubal litigation. However, the physician who performed the surgery only tied her right tube, leaving her susceptible to pregnancy. Her baby was born with sickle cell anemia, which was the reason she wanted a tubal litigation in the first place. Both Williams and her husband are carriers of the disease, and they feared a pregnancy would result in a child who would have to endure a lifetime of medical issues.
” I was livid. I just lost it,” Williams stated while recalling the details of the botched surgery.
For more information on the Williams’ and on wrongful pregnancy, see our article Wrongful Pregnancy.
Wrongful pregnancy damages will vary according state to state. Most states allow damages for medical expenses and lost wages, yet only a few states will allow damages for pain and suffering of an unwanted baby.
Delayed Diagnosis or Failure to Diagnose
Due to a number of reasons, including miscommunication, inexperience, or other extenuating circumstances, doctors may misdiagnose, delay to diagnose, or fail to diagnose medical conditions. These conditions could be anything from a mild warning that may elongate the birthing process, or something that ends up risking the life and health of the mother and baby. Examples include
- Anemia (the body not having enough healthy red blood cells)
- Maternal infections
- Maternal diabetes
- Placental issues, such as placenta previa or placental abruption
- Prolapsed umbilical cord
- rH incompatibility
- Uterine rupture
- Fetal abnormalities