Thankfully for everyone involved, modern medicine has made the process of pregnancy, labor and delivery much safer for both mother and child than it has ever been in history. Unfortunately, however, there are instances in which medical negligence leads to birth injuries. Birth injuries have the potential to leave newborns with medical conditions that could affect them for the rest of their lives. Even when these injuries are treatable, they may cause a tremendous amount of pain and suffering for the child as well as significant emotional distress for new parents.
Medical malpractice is a type of professional negligence that occurs when a medical professional “deviates from the standard of care.” In other words, medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional does not use the degree of care that would ordinarily be used by a medical professional with similar experience and training. Some of the more common examples of medical malpractice that can occur during the birthing process are detailed below.
Failure to Monitor Vital Signs During Labor
One of the most common causes of fetal injury is a failure on the part of the medical staff to monitor fetal vital signs. There are many things that could happen during labor, and failure to take prompt action could result in lifelong disabilities for the newborn. If a fetus goes without sufficient oxygen for too long, for example, it may result in a brain injury that could affect his or her physical and cognitive development.
Failure to Order an Emergency Cesarean Section
If issues do arise during labor, it may become necessary to perform a cesarean section, in which the baby is surgically removed from the mother’s uterus. If a medical professional waits too long to perform a C-section, it may result in serious injury to the fetus and/or the mother. In some cases, (not all) the delay in performing the procedure may amount to medical malpractice.
Improper Use of Instruments
There are many instruments used during labor and delivery and if a medical professional uses any of these instruments incorrectly or needlessly, it can cause extremely serious injuries to a newborn. One of the most common ways that instruments are incorrectly used is when a medical professional applies too much force during labor. This type of error can cause conditions like Erb’s Palsy and/ or cause a newborn to sustain a Brachial Plexus injury.
Failure to Diagnose a Condition in the Mother
Lastly, proper prenatal care is an essential part of making sure that a newborn is as healthy as possible. If a medical professional fails to recognize certain symptoms as indicative of a medical condition that could affect the fetus, he or she may have engaged in medical malpractice. Some conditions in expectant mothers that have the potential to cause serious problems in fetal development are preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypertension.
Every birth injury is complex and could have life-altering ramifications for both parents and children. If your child sustained a birth injury that you believe was related to medical negligence, it is important to discuss your situation with an experienced birth injury attorney.