Hospital negligence is an epidemic. Preventable harm in the hospital is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., right behind cancer and heart disease. Babies are especially vulnerable patients who are often affected by medical malpractice that occurs during or near the time of birth. Birth injuries affect an estimated 28,000 babies each year. Some of the most common conditions resulting from birth injuries include hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, seizures, and developmental delays (see a more extensive list here). Medical malpractice attorneys can help children with birth injuries by securing financial compensation to cover proper medical care, rehabilitative services, and more.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to follow the standard of care in treating a patient, resulting in harm. Standard of care is defined as what a reasonably prudent health care provider would or would not do under similar circumstances. When health care providers deviate from standards of care, it is negligence. When negligence causes a patient to be injured, it constitutes medical malpractice. Babies who are victims of medical malpractice often have birth injuries such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, and developmental delays.
How Do Medical Malpractice Lawyers Determine If Negligence Occurred?
Malpractice attorneys can help determine whether an injury or medical condition emerged as the result of negligence. They assess the nature and extent of a client’s injury, review all aspects of their medical records, and take depositions of the physicians and other medical professionals suspected of causing harm. Attorneys call on medical experts to help them review the records and assess whether care providers behaved negligently. Sometimes, forensics experts are consulted to help determine if medical personnel tried to cover up evidence of negligence in the records.
Medical Malpractice and Birth Injuries
The term “birth injury” can refer to negligent prenatal care, labor and delivery management, or treatment of a newborn. One of the most common causes of birth injury is failure to monitor for and quickly respond to signs of fetal distress. These are signs that a baby is being deprived of oxygen, and is likely in need of an emergency C-section. Impending fetal distress should also be recognized as soon as possible. For example, if a baby’s shoulder gets stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery (shoulder dystocia), labor is prolonged or there is an umbilical cord prolapse, severe oxygen deprivation can result. A prompt C-section delivery when a baby is in distress is very important because the severity of brain damage increases with the length of time a baby is deprived of oxygen. Often, quickly getting the baby out of the womb is the only way to prevent permanent harm. Sometimes, physicians try to force a vaginal delivery, often using risky drugs (Pitocin and Cytotec) and instruments (forceps and vacuum extractors). This often just prolongs labor and delivery, when what the baby really needs is an emergency C-section.
Why Do Parents Pursue Birth Injury Cases?
Here, attorney Emily Thomas will walk you through the long-term benefits of pursuing a birth trauma lawsuit for your loved one. To learn more about birth injuries and our law firm, make sure to visit our video library.
Reiter & Walsh, P.C. | Michigan Birth Injury Attorneys Helping Children Since 1997
Birth injury is a difficult area of law to pursue due to the complex nature of the medical records. The award-winning birth injury attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have decades of joint experience with birth injury, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), and cerebral palsy cases. To find out if you have a case, contact our firm to speak with one of our lawyers. We have numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case. We give personal attention to each child and family we help, and are available 24/7 to speak with you.
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Finding the Right Michigan HIE Lawyer for Your Birth Injury Case: Please note that while this article is focused on hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy cases in Michigan, we work with families whose children have many different types of birth injuries, and who live all over the country. If necessary, we will travel to your hometown.
Check out our Legal Process page if you have any of the following questions or concerns about pursuing a birth injury case:
- I think my child may have a birth injury, but I don’t want to seem litigious or confrontational. What should I do?
- I can’t spend a huge amount of time in court. I need to take care of my child. What kind of time commitment will this take on my end?
- I don’t live in the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan area, or even in the state of Michigan. Is this a problem?
- What does the legal process look like? I’ve never worked with a birth injury law firm before.
- My baby had a birth injury in a military hospital or a federally-funded free clinic. Can I get help for my baby’s injuries?
- I don’t have the resources to pay Reiter & Walsh, P.C. out-of-pocket. How do I pay for my legal services?
- James, John T. “A new, evidence-based estimate of patient harms associated with hospital care.” J Patient Saf 9.3 (2013): 122-128.
- Gallagher, Thomas H., et al. “Talking with Patients about Other Clinicians’ Errors.” New England Journal of Medicine 369.18 (2013): 1752-1757.
- Levinson, Daniel R., and Inspector General. “Adverse events in hospitals: national incidence among Medicare beneficiaries.” Department of Health & Human Services (2010).
- Levine, Alan S., Robert Eugene Oshel, and Sidney M. Wolfe. State medical boards fail to discipline doctors with hospital actions against them. Washington DC: Public Citizen, 2011.
- Woolf, Steven H., et al. “A string of mistakes: the importance of cascade analysis in describing, counting, and preventing medical errors.” The Annals of Family Medicine 2.4 (2004): 317-326.