Birth Injuries due to malpractice

How a birth injury case is handled can make the difference between whether an infant can access home care and have lifetime income support, or whether they will be dependent on family caregivers and public assistance.

Given the stakes, a family dealing with a birth injury deserves a firm with years of specialized experience, and world-class medical experts, such as we provide.

A recurring malpractice situation is an Obstetrician, Resident, or Nurse failing to appreciate that an infant is in “fetal distress.”[1] Severe fetal distress may indicate the need for “Stat” (ASAP) Cesarian section. When “Stat” Cesarian is required, the medical team should be able to accomplish delivery within 30 minutes, or sooner (the rule often stated as “30 minutes from decision to incision”).

We’ve seen this “30-minute rule” violated due to a variety of factors. Sometimes the Obstetrician has made themselves unavailable and delegated too much responsibility to monitor labor to an inexperienced resident. Or, the Obstetrician or labor nurse may not have property interpreted the “fetal monitoring” data. Or, the hospital may have failed to provide a prompt anesthesia team or operating room facility to conduct the delivery.

Our experience in interpreting medical records[2], and understanding how Obstetrics care is supposed to be organized, allows us to investigate fully so as to uncover whether proper care was given. And, just as important as knowing whether there was proper care (or a malpractice case) is identifying just how and where care broke down: to develop evidence to prove the case.

We have been involved in cases involving failure to diagnose prenatal conditions, such as gestational diabetes and maternal high blood pressure (“pre-eclampsia”) and other prenatal conditions.

Success of a birth injury case may ultimately depend on proving when the injury occurred. The defense will often claim the injury occurred in the early prenatal phase or was genetic, to try to oppose proof that malpractice surrounding birth produced the injury. In such cases, the proof of “medical causation” will often depend on analysis of the placenta (“placental pathology”) and evaluating MRI imaging through Neuroradiologists, which may point to patterns more consistent with injury occurring at the time of birth.[3] We have developed legal and medical expertise in these highly-specialized areas, that we bring to bear for our clients.

[1] “Fetal distress” is typically diagnosed through “electronic fetal monitoring” (“EFM”). Certain signs on the monitor, such as an abnormally low heart rate, are typically used to diagnose the condition. See, (“Fetal Distress” Moldenhauer, M.D. 2020).
[2] Laurence Deutsch is the author of Medical Records for Attorneys (a widely used reference book for lawyers, published by the American Bar Association, ISBN 0-8318-0817-9). Mr. Deutsch is also a frequent lecturer at accredited programs: teaching other attorneys how to interpret records and other medical evidence.
[3] See, e.g. “Placental origins of neonatal diseases,” Mir et al (Pediatric Research 2020).