Negligence During Labor and Delivery
GIVING BIRTH IS A NATURAL PROCESS, BUT IT CAN ALSO INVOLVE UNEXPECTED DANGERS FOR BOTH MOTHER AND CHILD.
Labor and delivery rooms tend to be chaotic, and decisions have to be made quickly. If medical mistakes and negligence enter the picture, the consequences can be severe injury or even death. When birth injuries are severe, the child and their family face not only emotional devastation, but overwhelming medical, therapeutic, and educational expenses that can last a lifetime.
If you or your child has suffered a labor or delivery injury due to the negligent care of the hospital, delivering physician or midwife, neonatal nurses, anesthesiologist or other medical staff, you may be entitled to compensation. Our Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorney, Cliff Rieders, has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing families who have suffered an injury due to negligence and malpractice by medical professionals and hospitals. His deep sense of compassion and loyalty to each client drives him to pursue each claim vigorously to get you the compensation you deserve.
Labor and Delivery Cases Can Be Complicated
Since medical malpractice law is highly regulated by a complex body of rules and statutes, we are happy to speak with people who call us. We talk with you and, when it is appropriate, we gather medical records. There are many occasions when it is also appropriate to obtain a medical review. Contact us if you believe your injury or your child’s injury or death during labor and delivery was due to medical negligence.
You deserve compensation that gives you the opportunity to offer your child a normal life. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with our labor and delivery injury attorneys to discuss your case and determine the best way to move forward. We help clients throughout PA and NJ.
For your free consultation, call (570) 323-8711
Pennsylvania Labor and Delivery Injury Lawyers Determine What is Negligence
Proving Violations of the Standard of Care
In order to recover damages, it is necessary to show negligence (meaning a lack of compliance with the standard of care), factual cause and harm as a result of the negligence.
Healthcare providers have a duty to their patients, which is the responsibility to treat patients with the standard of care expected in their profession. “Standard of care” is a term used to describe that basic level of acceptable treatment a patient should expect from their provider. It is the care that a reasonable healthcare provider in the circumstances would exercise.
All through the labor and delivery process, it is essential that both mother and child are monitored for signs of fetal distress and complications. Obstetricians, midwives, and other medical professionals who assist in the birth of a child are held to standards appropriate to their specialized profession. They have a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of both mother and child. If they do not follow these procedures and damage results, the professional may be found negligent and liable for any resulting harm.
Steps to Prove Negligence during a Labor and Delivery Lawsuit
Should injury or death result from labor and delivery negligence, it certainly may demonstrate negligence, assuming there is also what Pennsylvania law calls “factual cause.” In some situations, the hospital may also be found directly liable for negligence or negligence of its employees. We call that corporate negligence or, in some cases, vicarious liability. To obtain compensation, your attorney would still need to prove that the medical professional breached the duty of care and that this breach caused the injury or death.
In order to win your case and show that a healthcare provider was negligent, our labor and delivery attorneys would have to show:
- There was a provider–patient relationship, and the doctor had the duty not to cause harm.
- The doctor violated this duty and the standard of care through actions or failure to act.
- This violation caused the birth injuries or increased the risk of harm.
- You and your child suffered damages as a result.
How We Helped a Client Win a Labor and Delivery Case
Attorney Cliff Rieders handled a case involving a mother who was not properly monitored for diabetes during pregnancy. The doctor sent the mother to an ob-gyn, but neither the first doctor nor the ob-gyn properly monitored the woman and, as a result, her baby died. Even the mother suffered serious injuries. Thanks to the efforts of Cliff Rieders, very significant compensation was obtained.
In Pennsylvania, the law may consider contributory negligence (Title 42 Pa C.S. § 7102). Damages or harm you may have sustained could be reduced if you have done something to contribute to the problem (if, for example, you have gone against medical advice). Even in that situation, there are cases where the patient may be given the benefit of the doubt.
Common Negligence Situations in a Labor and Delivery Malpractice Lawsuit
There are many things that medical professionals must do during and after labor and delivery to make sure nothing goes wrong. The following are examples of errors which may be found to constitute medical negligence or malpractice during labor and delivery:
- Failure to monitor, detect, and respond to distress in the mother or fetus
- Oxygen deprivation to the fetus during labor and delivery
- Leaving the fetus in the birth canal for too long
- Forceps or vacuum used improperly
- Failure to diagnose the need for a caesarian section, to order a caesarian section when needed, to properly perform a caesarian section, or performing a caesarian section unnecessarily
- Failure to detect and respond to an umbilical cord around the fetus’s neck, breech presentation of the fetus, and/or placental complications
- Pulling or stretching of a baby’s neck during a head-first vaginal delivery
- A midwife’s failure to refer a patient to a hospital when necessary
- Failure to call a specialist for high-risk pregnancies
- Failure to use proper delivery techniques to prevent injury to the fetus or mother
- Anesthesia errors and failure to recognize anesthesia reactions
- Causing uterine rupture by improperly applying pressure to the mother’s abdomen or improperly using drugs such as Pitocin
- Failure to recognize and manage preeclampsia or eclampsia (toxemia), which can lead to seizures
- Giving the wrong medicine or wrong dose
- Failure to determine whether the fetus is in the proper position for delivery.
Example Labor and Delivery Malpractice Case in Pennsylvania
An example is a mother who has filed a birth injury lawsuit claiming that medical malpractice during the labor and delivery led to permanent, disabling injuries to her child. The mother claims that the physician “relied on information provided by other medical providers and did not perform his own pelvic and abdominal examination.” Also, despite the fact that two other doctors who had been monitoring the mother advised her that a caesarean section was needed, the physician did a vacuum delivery instead. The result was severe brachial plexus injuries to the child, who will never have normal use of his arm.
Damages Our Birth Injury Attorneys May Recover
Our attorneys will fight for compensation for all costs and damages caused by medical negligence during labor and delivery.
In Pennsylvania, you may receive a damage award that covers both your economic damages for calculable costs and your non-economic damages for costs that do not have a specific dollar value, such as pain and suffering. Examples include:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Ongoing care and costs of assisted living
- Loss of future income or ability to work over the course of a child’s lifetime
- Cost of modifications needed to a child’s home and special adaptive equipment
- Disability and disfigurement
- Shortened life expectancy
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Punitive damages – In some rare cases where conduct is proven to be intentional and/or deliberately indifferent (such as attending childbirth while under the influence of drugs or alcohol), you may also be awarded punitive damages. These are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter such behavior from occurring again.