When a baby is injured as a result of medical malpractice, a happy occasion can swiftly turn tragic. Sadly, this occurs far more frequently than it should, forcing families to figure out what to do next.
Birth injuries can be caused by a variety of factors. Some are because of natural causes, such as the baby’s head size could cause problems during labor and delivery. However, medical malpractice is a common reason behind birth-related injuries. Any moment during or after labor and delivery is vulnerable to possible medical malpractice and can have devastating effects on a baby’s health.
In this article, we will go through typical reasons behind birth injuries and infant wrongful death, as well as the legal options for the victims and their families.
Common Causes of Birth Injuries and Infant Wrongful Death
When a baby is injured before, during, or right after delivery, we call it a birth injury. Sometimes, the signs and symptoms of birth trauma fade within a few days or weeks. However, they can also be lifelong and severe, affecting a child for the rest of their life.
Birth injuries like severe asphyxiation, brain hemorrhage, hydrocephalus, or spinal cord injury are more likely to be deadly than others. If the death or injury could have been avoided, a wrongful death claim can help bring closure to the victim’s loved ones and prompt hospitals to institute new safety measures.
Some of the most common factors contributing to infant death and birth injuries are as follows:
Medical Errors During Delivery
Regardless of the circumstances, obstetricians and other members of an expecting patient’s care team are prepared to assist in the delivery of a healthy baby. However, when there is a breakdown in communication between the delivery team or a doctor commits a medical error, the outcomes can be devastating.
Birth injuries can be caused by the following medical errors made during delivery:
There is a greater risk of birth injuries when delivery is delayed. A delayed birth occurs when labor lasts more than 18 hours. If labor is prolonged, the baby’s brain will be under more stress. High blood pressure and fetal distress are two potential outcomes of compression. This may lead to cardiovascular issues or even stroke.
Lack of oxygen at birth is a major health risk that can have devastating effects on infants. A newborn delivered preterm or with a prolapsed umbilical cord may have underdeveloped lungs that prevent them from receiving adequate oxygen. Oxygen deprivation at birth is the leading cause of brain-related birth injuries. Even mild brain injuries can have lifelong consequences.
Excessive Use of Force
Birth injuries can result from the doctor using too much force during delivery or from other forms of medical negligence. Doctors and nurses go through extensive training to learn about labor and delivery and the potential complications that can arise. However, inexperienced personnel or impatient physicians can misunderstand data or even inflict blunt force trauma.
For example, the use of delivery techniques like forceps or vacuum extraction has been linked to brain injury in newborns. Poor monitoring of the expecting mother increases the risk of overlooking problems like decreased oxygen supply to the fetus’s brain.
Incorrect manipulation of the child’s body during delivery increases the risk of the infant having trouble exiting the birth canal, which can result in hypoxia. Pregnancy-related infections in either the mother or the baby, as well as the use of certain drugs, might increase the risk of difficulties during delivery.
Birth injuries and infant deaths can happen at any time, not only during delivery. Medical professionals can make a lot of mistakes that could endanger the baby while they are still in the hospital or clinic.
While anyone can suffer serious consequences from a medication error, newborns are particularly at risk because of their small size. A small dose of the wrong drug can be fatal.
Failure To Diagnose and Treat Fetal Distress
When birth injuries occur because of a doctor’s failure to recognize fetal distress, the doctor may be held accountable. Changes in heart rate, meconium in the amniotic fluid, decreased movement, and irregular fluid levels can all be indicators of fetal distress.
These symptoms point to an oxygen deprivation issue for the unborn baby. If medical professionals do not intervene quickly, the newborn may sustain irreversible brain damage from the lack of oxygen.
Legal Standards for Establishing Medical Malpractice in Birth Injury and Infant Wrongful Death Cases
By filing a lawsuit against the medical professionals who caused their child’s preventable birth injury, families can recover financial damages. However, victims of birth injuries, like those of any other type of medical negligence, must prove that the attending doctor or hospital’s conduct was inconsistent with the standards of care. It must also be proven that the mother or baby was injured as a direct result of that breach and that actual damage was sustained.
Breach of the Duty of Care
A medical professional’s legal liability is limited to instances where their negligent conduct deviates from the accepted standard. To do so, it is necessary to determine what level of care was considered reasonable at the time of the injury to the mother or child.
Typically, a birth injury lawyer near Minnesota will consult with and present the testimony of a third-party expert in the same industry as the defendant to establish the applicable standard of care. The defendant’s access to medical records from the time of the injury is also considered by the court.
Once the acceptable standard of care has been established, the defendant’s conduct can be evaluated considering that standard. The next step is for a medical expert to compare the actions taken during delivery to the actions a similarly trained medical professional would have taken had they had access to the same information.
There Must Have Been Injuries Due to the Breach
To succeed in a medical malpractice claim, an injured mother or child must show that their condition was caused by the defendant doctor’s breach of the established standards of professional practice. For instance, it would be necessary to provide evidence linking the doctor’s error to the infant’s stillbirth.
The Injury Must Have Caused Damages
The final step in determining medical malpractice in the context of a birth injury is to quantify the damage done by the defendant’s negligence and the financial losses that followed. This can be done by an experienced wrongful death attorney in Minnesota.
The Impact That Birth Injuries Can Have on Families and the Child
Both the mother and the child are vulnerable to the emotional and physical health consequences of birth trauma. Birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy due to brain damage, can have long-lasting effects on some children.
There are also other hidden consequences. After experiencing a difficult birth, mothers may ignore their mental health while showing severe signs of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Taking care of a child while experiencing these symptoms might be next to impossible. When parents can’t take care of themselves, it can put a strain on their relationships with their children.
Having a baby should be one of the greatest joys of one’s life. However, the happiness of delivering a newborn can turn into a living nightmare if medical negligence causes the infant’s permanent disability or even death.
Magna Law Firm offers free legal consultations to parents who believe their child was injured at birth due to medical negligence. Our wrongful death lawyers in Minnesota are dedicated to helping families during what may be a very trying time. We help them get ready for the difficult legal issues that lie ahead. Our mission is to provide families with the information they require to rest easy and pursue justice. Call us today at 763-438-3032 to get started.