Lawsuits and Legal Action for Pennsylvania Birth Injuries
Too many birth injuries occur due to preventable causes. When medical providers are negligent in caring for expecting mothers and newborn babies, the consequences can last a lifetime. Families have recourse under Pennsylvania law. In many cases, the funds recovered in a lawsuit can fund your child's life care plan and pay for the long-term medical care needed to maximize his or her quality of life.
Standards of care in birth injury cases
The "standard of care" is a legal term that refers to the basic level of care that doctors are expected to provide for patients. Under Pennsylvania law, a breach of the standard of care is defined as care that falls "outside acceptable professional standards" and thereby causes harm to the patient. (231 Pennsylvania Code section 1042.3)
In short, the law does not require doctors to be perfect, but it does require them to meet acceptable professional standards as they care for patients. When they fail to meet that standard of care, they can be held liable (financially responsible) for the cost of the injuries they caused. Some examples of medical malpractice in birth injury cases include:
- Failure to check for risk factors in the mother, such as hypertension and infection.
- Failure to make a referral to an appropriate specialist when medically indicated.
- Failure to warn the patient of the risks to the baby of medical options like vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC).
- Failure to monitor the baby's heart rate during labor and delivery, or failure to intervene if the heart rate is outside the normal range.
- Committing a medication error, such as giving the wrong medication, wrong dose or wrong route.
- Failure to perform a c-section when it is medically necessary or delaying the c-section and allowing the baby to be hurt.
- Causing a traumatic injury to the baby with misuse of forceps or vacuum extractors.
- Failure to immediately treat a condition like jaundice or hypoglycemia after birth.
- Waiting for test results instead of immediately treating an infection.
- Delay in performing treatments such as head cooling or whole-body cooling to reduce the risk of damage to the brain.
Taking legal action against a negligent doctor
It's not enough to demonstrate that a doctor made a mistake, nor that your child was injured, in order to prove medical malpractice. Not every medical mistake causes an injury, and not every injury is caused by a doctor's mistake. You need to prove that the doctor's actions fell short of the standard of care and caused your child's injury or made an existing injury worse.
A Pennsylvania attorney can investigate what happened to your child, reconstruct the events that occurred during labor and delivery, and build a narrative that proves the doctor's negligence was the proximate cause of the injury. Under Pennsylvania law, the attorney also needs an appropriate licensed medical professional to review and sign off on the claim. A medical expert may also be needed to testify at trial.
Taking legal action can recover funds to pay for your child's lifetime care needs, the cost of which may stretch into the millions of dollars. It also sends a strong message and helps to deter future negligence, which protects other Pennsylvania families from being similarly harmed. If you have any reason to suspect your child's injury was caused by malpractice, use Help For Your Baby's free consultation service to connect with a Pennsylvania birth injury lawyer.