Tips For Determining If A Birth Injury Was Due To Negligence

Suffering an injury during or shortly after birth, whether to the mother or the infant, is both stressful and frightening. It can be even more disturbing if malpractice was at play. Not all cases of birth injury qualify for a malpractice suit. The following guide can help you determine if negligence and malpractice was at the root of your troubles.

Was negligence involved?

Malpractice can only occur if there was negligence on the part of a medical provider. For example, the umbilical cord wrapping around a child's neck during birth can cut off oxygen to the brain, resulting in a brain injury and permanent damage. This is usually not something that can be anticipated, but delivery doctors and nurses are trained to act quickly to minimize the damage – usually before the child is fully out of the birth canal. On the other hand, an inattentive doctor that doesn't realize that the cord is placed dangerously until after delivery may be found negligent.

Did the injury happen after delivery?

Many birth injuries actually occur after delivery. Generally, to be considered a birth injury, it has to happen at the hands of the attending medical staff for the birth and subsequent recovery period. For example, if your child's body temperature drops dangerously low several hours after delivery, but the attending nurse doesn't notice until after distress has occurred, this will still be considered birth injury malpractice. If the same situation occurs during a hospital visit a week later because you child is ill, this would be standard malpractice and not a birth injury.

Was lack of care the problem?

Malpractice doesn't just involve what a medical professional did, but also what they did not do. A common situation is a narrow pelvis leading to prolonged labor. In some cases, the mother may suffer extensive injuries or the child may spend too much time in the birth canal and suffer from oxygen deprivation if vaginal birth is continued. It may be considered malpractice if the medical staff failed to notice the signs of distress and provide a caesarian section in a timely manner.

Did the injury result in death?

Death does not mean that negligence wasn't the cause, but it does immediately take the situation out of the realm of malpractice. If the injury resulted in death, but it still meets the criteria for malpractice as covered above, then you will need to sue for wrongful death.

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