Birth injuries are not always the result of negligence. Some of them resolve naturally without intervention, and some injuries are unavoidable. The avoidable injuries lead to malpractice claims.
The most common birth injuries are the result of either excessive pressure or lack of oxygen during delivery. When these injuries occur, determining whether a malpractice liability exists involves using the four-step process of applying malpractice law.
Duty of care
The first step is to establish the appropriate standard of care and determine whether the physician failed to provide it. For example, a birth injury could be the result of a physician’s failure to properly monitor the mother and baby during pregnancy, or perhaps waiting too long to perform a c-section when a delivery doesn’t go as planned.
Deviation from duty
After establishing the standard of care, the next step is comparing the physician’s actions to both the standard and the actions of other health care providers under the same circumstances. Certain conditions during pregnancy are easily diagnosed, and addressing them appropriately could prevent serious harm.
The plaintiff must then prove that negligence was the direct cause of the injury. For example, doctors and nurses have a responsibility to monitor for signs of fetal distress. When a failure to do so leads to brain damage from oxygen deprivation, their negligence may be a direct cause of the injury.
The final step in the process is determining the extent of the damages. With a catastrophic birth injury, a child may need a lifetime of care. There are also non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or wrongful death.
Patients rely on their doctors to anticipate and solve problems, not to create them. Birth injuries lead to malpractice claims when avoidable damage occurs as a result of negligence.