Birth-Related Medical Malpractice
Welcoming a new family member is typically one of the most joyous occasions of a mother’s or father’s life. In most, if not all, situations, the stresses and pains of trying to get pregnancy, the pregnancy itself, and childbirth are all washed away the moment a parent comes face-to-face with his/her child. However, while this country is always at the top of the list when it comes to countries with a low rate of birth defects, the reality is that birth defects do happen. Unfortunately, in some cases, the defect is the result of preventable error on the part of the medical professionals attending to the birth. When this does happen, retaining a medical malpractice attorney with experience in birth injuries as soon as possible is critical. Recently, a Pennsylvania girl whose spinal cord was injured during birth was awarded a multi-million dollar sum as a result of the preventable errors caused by medical providers at the birth. Given that birth injuries, when they occur, are often severe and long-lasting, understanding when medical malpractice may apply is important for new parents. A discussion of what to look for regarding birth injuries, as well as how to determine a value of a birth injury, will follow below.
Signs of Birth Injuries
Medical professionals can be held liable under Florida’s medical malpractice law. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional breaches a standard of care, the breach of which causes harm to his/her patient. The standard of care refers to the accepted procedures and practices within the medical professional’s specialty. Successful plaintiffs may be entitled to compensation for their child’s injuries, which may include medical care and visits, medication, physical therapy, special-needs equipment, counseling, psychological services, and pain and suffering.
Given that infants are unable to speak about their birth injuries, it is important that the parents be cognizant of potential symptoms, which may indicate the child is suffering from a birth injury. For example, limited facial or limb movement, paralysis, vision problems, clenched fists, poor coordination and/or delayed motor skills can be indicative of injury, and parent should monitor their infants for these situations. Additionally, if the infant has missed any important development milestones or is showing signs of physical or cognitive distress, this may be an indication that brain or nerve damage occurred during the labor process.
If any of these symptoms is present, it is wise to obtain a copy of all medical records, including a copy of the fetal monitoring strips. These strips will indicate if any anomalies were observed during pregnancy, such as heart rate and respiration. Delivery records also typically indicate a rating of the health and appearance of the child at birth – if this rating is low, there is a good chance the child suffered an injury.
Determining the Value of a Birth Injury
Damage awards in birth injury matters can vary widely, and depend on a number of factors, including the severity the injury, whether the parent was partially at fault, and the child’s prognosis. In any event, birth injuries can result in a condition that requires ongoing care. As a result, victims of birth injuries may incur thousands or millions of dollars in medical expenses. An experienced medical malpractice attorney is best able to calculate the ultimate cost of these expenses, and should be contacted as soon as possible.
In addition to damages for medical care, Florida permits victims of birth injuries to recover non-economic damages, such as physical and emotional pain and suffering and loss of quality of life. Again, given that these types of injuries can last a long time, if not for the entire lifetime of the child, these damages can be significant.
Seek Legal Advice
If you, or someone you love, has suffered an injury at birth, and you believe it was caused by preventable medical error, contact a medical negligence attorney as soon as possible. The Miami attorneys at the law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado have experience in medical negligence involving birth injuries, and will work to determine the best strategy to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.