The day you deliver your child into the world should be a time of celebration and happiness. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, with many examples of children or their mothers being hurt or made unhealthy by the negligence of medical staff. Although a hospital stay is basically a way to insure your child’s health, sometimes it is the actions of the hospital or physician that lead to major health problems and even death.
Just recently, in Pennsylvania, a mother was awarded a $78 million dollar settlement after the jury found that her child contracted cerebral palsy because of faulty diagnostic procedures by the staff responsible for the birth. After arriving at the hospital with complications that caused her unborn to be deprived of oxygen, an issue that experts confirmed could be remedied by a prompt delivery, she was told by the physician that the baby had already died after performing an ultrasound. After a period of time, the ultrasound was repeated by other hospital staff and a heartbeat was detected, leading to an emergency cesarean section.
There was in total, an 81-minute delay in performing the c-section, causing the condition of the fetus to deteriorate, which resulted in cerebral palsy. The medical malpractice attorney representing the plaintiff successfully cited a lack of a trained professional and antiquated equipment as the primary reasons for the lawsuit.
Although the eventual ruling was a victory for those who have dealt with medical malpractice in the past and understand the unsustainable costs involved, it is a rare example of doctors and hospitals being held fully responsible for their negligent actions. This failure to provide adequate care is just one of the cases in which a hospital has been known to make mistakes in child birth malpractice. Some of the other more common childbirth injuries resulting from malpractice include:
- Caput Succedaneum – this is one of the types of birth injuries that adversely affect the newborn’s head. Traumatic vacuum extraction medical procedures are most likely to cause this type of head injury at birth.
- Facial Paralysis – this affects a newborn’s face and occurs when excessive pressure is forced on the baby’s face during delivery and may require surgery to correct.
- Brachial Plexus Palsy – this is an injury that may require surgery to correct. This injury occurs during shoulder dystocia and can in paralysis of the child’s upper arms. It can result in a permanent injury and lifetime disability.
- Birth Fractures – these are a common result of clumsy physician assistance during the birth and labor process. The most common fractures that can occur are of the child’s clavicle or collarbone and usually happen when there should have been an emergency C-section because the mother is too small to deliver a large fetal head and body. Immediate treatment is required for these types of birth fracture injuries.
- Forceps Lacerations and Bruising – these tend to be the result of unskilled and unnecessarily forceful use of medical instruments, and can result in severe head injury to the newborn during the delivery and labor process.
In the Cerebral Palsy case, the single mother was awarded damages that include payments for future medical care of the child, lost earnings, pain and suffering for the baby, and emotional distress for the family.
Although the amount will be met with arguments by tort reform proponents, this was not a frivolous lawsuit brought on by litigious individuals looking to make some money. This case destroyed the family dynamic and future of a child who could have been saved from this major medical condition. Being able to hold negligent individuals and institutions liable for their actions, allows the victims to be compensated for catastrophic errors.
While the outcome was a success in this case, the most worrisome thought at the moment is that there is federal legislation currently being voted on that would move to cap these damages at just $250,000. An inadequate and unfair cap has the potential to devastate those who are in most need of compensation to make up for the gross negligence of another.