ERNST & YOUNG
Birth-related medical malpractice occurs when a physician, hospital or other medical staff fails to use reasonable care and causes injury to the fetus or infant. A variety of fetal injuries can be caused by medical malpractice, including fractured bones and brain injuries. Physician or obstetrician negligence can occur before or during childbirth. Examples of negligent prenatal care can include failure to diagnose a mother’s medical condition like Rh incompatibility or failure to identify a disease that could be contagious to the mother’s fetus. Negligence during delivery is one of the main causes of medical malpractice lawsuits. Examples of negligence during childbirth would be failure to anticipate birth complications, such as a tangled umbilical cord, hypoxia or failure to respond to signs of fetal distress.
When an infant is injured due to medical malpractice, the parents must initiate the lawsuit and act as guardians of the infant in order to receive both general and special damages for compensation. If the infant suffers brain damage, the parents may sue to recover medical expenses for developmental needs and future rehabilitation costs in addition to pain and suffering for lifelong physical and mental disabilities.
Birth mothers can also sue for medical malpractice if the physician’s carelessness caused her an injury before or during birth. For example, if the physician failed to diagnose high blood pressure during treatment and the mother experienced seizure during delivery, she can sue to recover for damages caused by the seizure.
Parents can also sue for pain and suffering they experience as a result of their baby’s injuries due to medical malpractice, as there is often parental pain and suffering associated with raising the child. For example, in a wrongful birth action, parents claim that the physician should’ve have given them notice about the child’s birth defect. This way, they could’ve eliminated the pregnancy. The grounds for filing a lawsuit in wrongful birth actions typically center on failure to identify impairments in the early stages of pregnancy or negligent genetic testing prior to conception.
Birth injuries that result in fetal death may result in a medical malpractice claim when the treating doctor failed to provide the same level of care as other health care professionals under the same circumstances. These cases are known as wrongful death suits.
It is important to note that birth-related injuries alone do not support a determination that medical malpractice occurred. The medical standard of care must be established to determine the appropriate level of care under the circumstances. The concept of the medical standard of care establishes the degree of care and skill by other health care providers of the same specialty in order to evaluate whether or not negligence did occur. It needs to be shown that the health care provider breached the medical standard of care.
Birth-related injuries and medical malpractice law entail a complicated set of medical and legal issues. Due to the complex nature of medical malpractice cases, it’s important to seek advice and representation from an experienced medical malpractice Maryland attorney.
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