Issues of Potential Malpractice during Pregnancy and Childbirth
Having a new child is one of the most joyful events a parent experiences, and most parents harbor months of happy anticipation preceding the birth. While pregnancy and childbirth represent one of the most basic functions of the human body, it does not come without risk, which is why expectant mothers work with a gynecologist/obstetrician throughout the pregnancy and during child labor. Problems arise when the doctor does not properly treat the mother or screen the unborn child for serious issues that can lead to irreparable harm. Medical malpractice lawsuits often follow such tragic circumstances. The risk facing pregnant mothers and their babies is borne out by the fact that the U.S. has a surprisingly high infant mortality rate compared to other wealthy developed countries. In addition, a recent study by Consumer Reports found that most Caesarean section births are unnecessary and expose the mother and child to needless risk of later complications. Doctors that treat expectant mothers are trained to look for certain issues that potentially threaten the health of the mother and/or the baby in order to catch such problems before any harm occurs. Parents should understand the issues ob/gyn physicians are expected to investigate, as well as the legal recourse the parents have if a doctor fails to take appropriate action.
Medical Issues Leading to Malpractice
When medical providers in charge of treatment for pregnant mothers fail to identify and/or treat serious medical conditions, the provider could be liable for negligence, the basis for medical malpractice lawsuits. Some of the more common conditions/concerns that ob/gyns must be cognizant of and respond appropriately to include:
- Pre-eclampsia, a condition frequently experienced among pregnant women, which is characterized by high blood pressure and swelling of the hands, feet and face. Left untreated, the mother could develop kidney dysfunction and seizures during or immediately after pregnancy, which can result in death to the mother and child.
- Gestational diabetes, which occurs in approximately 18 percent of pregnant women and relates to a woman’s inability to create enough insulin to convert glucose to energy. This leads to a buildup of glucose in the body and creates problems for the baby, especially during birth. Babies from these mothers are often larger, making delivery more difficult and exposing the baby to possible injury during the birthing process.
- Anemia during pregnancy, which refers to a lack of healthy blood cells to carry oxygen to the baby. Most cases are mild and easily addressed, but if not discovered and treated, the mother can experience dizziness that increases her chance of sustaining injury from a fall, or in serious cases, require blood transfusions.
Sources of Compensation for Harm
All of the conditions mentioned above are common and included in most routine checks as part of the standard treatment protocol for pregnant women. However, the existence of a standard treatment protocol does not guarantee that all doctors properly follow it. These lapses are the source of many malpractice lawsuits, and if negligence is proven, entitle the injured party to compensation. Some types of compensation an injured party may receive include:
- medical bills, including current and future medical expenses necessary to correct or manage any damage to mother and/or child;
- lost wages if the mother cannot return to work;
- pain and suffering for emotional trauma suffered from the injury;
- wrongful death benefits if the mother or child dies; and
- punitive damages if the doctor’s conduct was egregious, warranting punishment of the physician for his/her behavior.
Consult a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or your child were injured because of a doctor’s negligence, a medical malpractice attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve. These situations are tragic, and need the attention of experienced malpractice attorneys to increase the chance of holding the doctor accountable. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado knows how to handle the complex malpractice litigation process in Florida, and is available to assess your case. Contact us for a free consultation.