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Birth-Related Medical Malpractice Overview

What You Need to Know About Birth-Related Medical Malpractice

For parents, there's nothing more important than the health and well-being of their child, but sometimes things can go wrong during the birth process. According to the CDC, for every 1,000 children born, about seven of them will suffer from a birth injury. If you or your child was injured due to negligence, you may have a case for birth-related medical malpractice.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is professional negligence by a health care provider that results in harm to a patient. It occurs when a provider fails to provide the requisite standard of care. To win a medical malpractice case, you must be able to prove that the health care provider deviated from the accepted standard of care and that this deviation caused you or your child harm. If you have a viable claim, an Allentown personal injury lawyer could help you accomplish this.

Types of Birth-Related Injuries

Birth-related injuries come in many forms and can occur at all stages of the prenatal period, during labor and delivery, or after the baby is born. Either the mother or the child can sustain these injuries. In many cases, both do. However, the types of injuries each suffers are very different.

Injuries to the Mother

Two main types of injuries can occur to the mother: those that occur during labor and delivery, and those that occur after the baby is born. During labor and delivery, the most common type of injury is a perineal laceration, which is a tear in the tissue between the vagina and anus. These tears can be caused by many things, including the use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery. After the baby is born, the most common type of injury to the mother is postpartum hemorrhage. This is heavy bleeding after delivery that can be life-threatening. Other injuries to the mother can include uterine rupture, placental abruption, and peripartum cardiomyopathy. Additionally, malpractice-related injuries to the mother can occur during pregnancy. These include injuries from a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose conditions like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

Injuries to the Child

Many different types of injuries can occur to a child during the birth process. These include:
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Brachial plexus palsy
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Skull fractures
  • Facial paralysis
  • Spinal cord injuries
These injuries can be caused by many things, including the use of forceps or vacuum extractors during delivery, prolonged labor, and maternal infection. Malpractice-related fetal injuries during pregnancy are also possible. For instance, certain prenatal tests can be used to detect conditions like spina bifida. If these tests aren't performed or are performed incorrectly, the child could be born with a preventable birth defect.

When Are Birth Injuries Considered Malpractice?

Not all birth injuries are considered medical malpractice. For an injury to be considered medical malpractice, it must've been caused by the negligence of a health care provider. There are many different ways in which a health care provider can be negligent. Some common examples include:
  • Failing to properly monitor the mother and child during labor and delivery.
  • Failing to identify maternal or fetal distress.
  • Failing to intervene in a timely manner when problems arise during labor and delivery
  • Using too much force during delivery.
  • Making an error during a C-section.
  • Failing to properly treat maternal infection.
Additionally, a health care provider can be found negligent if they fail to obtain informed consent from the mother before performing a procedure. This means that they didn't explain the risks and benefits of the procedure in a way that the mother could understand.

Filing a Birth-Related Medical Malpractice Claim

If you believe that you or your child has been the victim of medical malpractice, you may be wondering how to proceed. The first step is to contact an experienced Allentown personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will review your case and help you determine whether you have a claim. If it's determined that you do have a claim, your attorney may help you gather the necessary evidence and file a lawsuit with the appropriate court. The personal injury lawyers at Metzger & Kleiner have extensive experience handling birth-related medical malpractice claims. Contact us at our Philadelphia office at 215-567-6616 or our Lehigh Valley office at 610-435-7400 to schedule a consultation.

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