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Are Doctors Negligent If My Child Suffered a Birth Injury?

Posted on September 22, 2021

There are many different causes of birth injuries. Some occur naturally, some are unavoidable, and some are caused by errors. Therefore, when a birth injury occurs, it doesn’t necessarily mean the doctors or other healthcare providers were negligent.

What Is Medical Negligence During Childbirth?

Medical negligence during childbirth occurs when a doctor or other healthcare provider does not follow the acceptable standard of care and causes a birth injury to a pregnant mother or child during delivery. There are some key aspects of pregnancy, labor, and delivery that, when carefully monitored, can help prevent birth-related medical malpractice. When doctors or nurses fail to do these tasks, and the baby or mother suffers as a result, it is considered medical negligence. Some examples of medical negligence during childbirth are:

  • A baby not receiving enough oxygen during labor and delivery, causing brain damage.
  • A medical instrument used incorrectly and causing the baby to suffer a skull fracture.
  • Undetected or untreated preeclampsia, leading to a mother seizing during delivery.
  • Medical equipment or supplies left inside a mother after a cesarean section (C-section).
  • Damage to the mother’s internal organs during a C-section.

When a baby is born with congenital disabilities, which if the parents would have known about, would have avoided or ended the pregnancy, they may have a wrongful birth claim. Wrongful birth actions are commonly based on negligent genetic testing or negligent failure to detect impairments.

What Are Common Causes of Negligence During Childbirth?

Some of the most common causes of medical negligence during childbirth that results in injury include:

  • Failure to properly monitor the mother and fetus during labor and delivery
  • Failure to monitor during pregnancy to identify any risk factors
  • Lack of labor preparedness and mismanagement of standard delivery procedure
  • Failure to perform a C-Section when appropriate
  • Mismanagement of dystocia or breech deliveries
  • Failure to detect and address problems with the umbilical cord
  • Failure to respond to cardiac complications during birth
  • Improper use of delivery assistance devices, like forceps and vacuum extractors
  • Failure to notice signs of uterine rupture
  • Failure to notice signs of fetal distress
  • Medication errors during labor and delivery
  • Failure to diagnose and treat infection
  • Failure to treat conditions in the newborn such as meconium aspiration syndrome, infant respiratory distress syndrome, or jaundice
  • Failure to address and correct adverse effects from surgery or drugs, including complications from anesthesia and epidural toxicity

When a Birth Injury Can Lead to a Lawsuit

The first step in determining whether medical negligence occurred is establishing the appropriate medical standard of care that applied in the specific childbirth situation in which the mother or child was injured. From there, the standard of care can be compared to the doctor’s, nurse’s, or healthcare provider’s actions. If there was a failure to act similar to how another similarly skilled doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider would have under the same circumstances, their deviation might be deemed medical negligence and the legal cause of injury to the mother or baby.