5 types of birth injury medical malpractice claims

by John McKiggan

As birth injury lawyers, we work with clients whose children are, tragically, the victims of many types of medical malpractice. Contrary to what you might imagine, birth injuries are not limited to mishaps during the actual birth – they can happen in many contexts leading up to, immediately following, and related to the birth. Here’s a look at five common types of medical malpractice claims in the context of birth injuries.

  1. Birth Injury: These are claims resulting from injuries to mothers and/or babies stemming from events before, during and after childbirth. There are dozens of types of specific birth injuries, including cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injuries, and Erb’s palsy.
  2. Medication Error: This can involve over-prescription of medication or the prescription or administration of the wrong medication to a patient. The harm caused by this type of error depends on the extent of the reaction to the medication. In the context of birth injury cases, a medication used to increase the intensity and frequency of uterine contractions (oxytocin/pitocin/syntocinon) can be mis-used.
  3. Interpretation Error: These cases involve the negligent interpretation of medical studies or investigations, such as x-rays, CT scans, pathology slides or blood tests. In the birth injury context, this may also involve the negligent interpretation of prenatal ultrasounds.
  4. Referral Error: These cases involve a failure by a medical professional to refer a patient to the appropriate specialist in a timely way or at all.  For birth injury cases, not all pregnancies are the same. Some carry higher risk for both mother and baby and require referral to the appropriately skilled obstetrician.
  5. Errors in Infection Control: Community acquired infections and the absence of sterile/asceptic protocols can lead to liability of hospitals, doctors, and governmental agencies. In some situations mothers carry certain bacteria that pose a risk to the baby that requires certain treatment of the mother and monitoring of the newborn.

Other errors related to surgery, timely and accurate diagnosis, and informed consent can also form the basis of a birth injury claim.

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