Birth injury malpractice is not an instance in which the injury speaks for itself. In other words, a hospital is not automatically liable if an injury occurs to either the mother or the child during childbirth. The key to establishing liability is to show the standard of care that the hospital was required to follow and then make the showing that they failed to uphold that standard. Simply stated, that is not easy task as hospital will rarely just admit liability.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can result from inadequate care received during the pregnancy or mistakes made during the childbirth process at the hospital. Birth injuries may occur after a failure to diagnose a medical problem or as a result of trauma that happens during childbirth. One of the most common birth injuries to occur is cerebral palsy. This happens when there is damage to the baby’s brain that, in most instances, occurs before birth. While not all cerebral palsy is the result of malpractice, inadequate medical care can definitely be a contributing factor to cerebral palsy. Other types of birth injury can include Brachial plexus injury, fractures and facial paralysis.
In order to begin to understand one’s legal rights, one must be as well informed as possible about birth injuries. To learn more about birth injuries, please visit Accident & Injury Law Group.
Standard of Care
In dealing with pregnancies and births, doctors often make a substantial amount of decisions. Some of these decisions come with very little time to think. Nonetheless, doctors are held to a standard when making these decisions.
The standard of care factors in the expectation that doctors will use their training and professional skill to adhere to a generally-accepted course of action. This implies that doctors will make decisions that are reasonably appropriate under the circumstances. Specifically, doctors must exercise the “same skill and diligence” that other doctors would use in similar or the same circumstances.
Although the standard of care measures what is reasonably appropriate, it is not necessarily set in stone. Instead, determining the appropriate standard of care may require an inquiry into a number of different sources. These sources could include textbooks, medical articles, generally followed practices or the hospitals own written practices. Often times, the exact standard to use to determine liability is a hotly contested issue at trial.
How to Prove Liability
Once the standard of care is established, the critical step is proving that the standard was breached. This is not necessarily an easy undertaking and an attorney is of critical importance. Doctors often employ a variety of different defenses when faced with malpractice litigation. The major issue is that the defense will often be that the standard of care was followed. Overcoming that defense often requires expert witnesses and delving into scientific and medal intricacies to make an evidentiary showing that the standard was breached. Once it has been proven that the doctor breached the standard of care, a plaintiff must make a showing that there was injury suffered and that the doctors actions or omissions was the cause of that injury.