An obstetrician or other physician responsible for the care and treatment of a pregnant woman has two patients: the woman and her as yet unborn child. Physicians and other healthcare professionals providing care and treatment to a pregnant woman have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the health and safety of both mother and fetus throughout the mother’s pregnancy as well as during her labor and the delivery of her child. Medical negligence during a woman’s pregnancy or the labor and delivery stages of childbirth can cause serious and irreversible birth injuries to children and may result in the direct liability of responsible medical personnel—and the indirect liability of the hospitals, clinics, or other entities that employ them—for damages suffered by a child as a result. In some cases, direct negligence by hospitals or clinics may lead to the direct liability of these entities for birth injuries caused by hospital or clinic negligence.
If your child sustained a fatal or non-fatal childbirth injury and you have reason to suspect that the injury was caused by medical negligence during your pregnancy and/or the labor and delivery stages of your child’s birth, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a medical-malpractice action against the responsible parties. The Killino Firm’s San Francisco birth-trauma and birth-injury lawyers have extensive experience with birth-injury and birth-trauma cases, including those arising out of injuries caused by the negligence of healthcare providers and/or the hospitals and clinics that employ them. Contact The Killino Firm at 415-278-9278 for a cost-free evaluation of your case and additional information about your legal rights and options.
Legal Liability for Children’s Negligently Caused Birth Injuries
Negligence during a woman’s pregnancy or the labor and delivery stages of her child’s birth can cause or contribute to birth injuries for which the responsible parties may be held accountable through legal action. This negligence can be committed by nurses, obstetricians, mid-wives, anesthesiologists, hospitals, clinics, and others involved in the care of a pregnant woman and her unborn or newly born child.
Negligent Medical Care during Pregnancy
Negligent medical care and treatment during a woman’s pregnancy can result in immediate or subsequent injuries to the fetus she is carrying. Pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organ systems, for example, can lead to serious or fatal injury to a fetus if left untreated. Depending on when in a woman’s pregnancy pre-eclampsia occurs, an obstetrician’s negligent failure to monitor her blood pressure, test for excess protein in her urine, and to recognize and respond to other pre-eclampsia symptoms may result in serious injury or death to a fetus that might have been prevented with a timely diagnosis and adequate response. A child’s fatal or non-fatal birth injury may also result from the negligent performance or misreading of a fetal non-stress test (FNT) performed after the 28th week of gestation. When properly performed and read, FNT can provide indications of placental, umbilical-cord, and other oxygen-deprivation problems in a fetus that may result in serious injury or death if not timely and appropriately managed.
Negligent Medical Care during Labor and Delivery
Negligent medical care during the labor and delivery stages of a child’s birth can also result in serious injury or death to a fetus. Negligent care causal of such injuries can occur immediately or shortly after a child’s delivery, as well. Asphyxiation injuries, for example, may occur during labor or delivery when a fetus’s umbilical cord is prolapsed or compressed or when the cord becomes wound around the fetus’s neck. A physician’s negligent failure to order a Caesarian section (C-section) when severe cord compression has been detected, for example, may lead to an infant’s brain injury or death. Such injuries may also be caused when obstetricians and other medical personnel negligently fail to diagnose and appropriately and/or timely respond to placental abruption. Childbirth brain injuries that may be caused by these and other hypoxic or anoxic events (i.e., complications or conditions that result in too little or no oxygen to the fetus) can lead to, among other things, children’s cerebral palsy (CP), autism, paralysis, and damage to cardiovascular and respiratory systems, kidneys, and other internal organs.
Difficult deliveries often lead to infants’ serious injuries or deaths when not properly managed by physicians and others assisting in deliveries. The negligent use of forceps or other delivery assistance devices, for example, may result in fatal or non-fatal brain injuries to a child. Excessive pulling on an infant’s shoulders or neck when labor has slowed or stopped can cause Erb’s palsy and other brachial plexus palsy injuries. Broken shoulders or clavicles that could have been prevented through timely ordered C-sections may result from vaginal deliveries through birth canals too small to accommodate macrosomic fetuses (fetuses over the average weight).
In these cases and others, the physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers whose negligence is found to have caused or contributed to children’s birth injuries may be found liable for the damages suffered by these children. In addition, the hospitals and clinics that employ such medical personnel may be found indirectly liable for birth injuries caused by the negligence of their employees and directly liable for injuries caused by hospitals’ and clinics’ own negligence.
If your child has sustained any type of birth injury due to healthcare-provider or hospital or clinic negligence, The Killino Firm’s San Francisco birth-injury and birth-trauma attorneys are ready to fight for the justice you deserve from all those responsible for your child’s suffering. Contact The Killino Firm at 415-278-9278 for compassionate yet aggressive assistance with your case.