The birth of a child requires skilled medical care from a variety of licensed health care practitioners, including obstetricians, gynecologists, nurses and surgeons. With so many parties involved, it can be difficult to determine who might be legally and financially responsible, or liable, for a preventable birth injury. If your family finds itself in a medical malpractice related situation in Pennsylvania, contact an experienced Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyer at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C., for a free one-on-one legal consultation.
Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice
Not all birth complications or birth injuries entitle a family to financial compensation through a birth injury lawsuit in Pennsylvania. Some mother and infant injuries occur even when every medical provider involved upheld the expected standards of medical care. However, birth injuries are more common in deliveries that involve medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice in labor and delivery can refer to any negligent act or omission by an attending physician or practitioner. If any of the parties who participated in the birth of a child fell short of the medical industry’s required standards of patient care, resulting in patient injury or death, a birth injury lawsuit can be filed against the at-fault party by the victim or victim’s family.
Liable Parties in Birth Injury Claims in Pennsylvania
If a birth injury is traced back to any form of medical malpractice or medical negligence, one or multiple parties could be held liable for the victim’s injuries. Determining liability requires an investigation into the cause of the victim’s injury with help from a specialized birth injury attorney in Pittsburgh. The reason for the birth injury will need to be identified to pinpoint who is responsible.
Liable parties can include:
- Attending physician: the attending nurse, physician, physician’s assistant, OBGYN or midwife may be liable if he or she failed to uphold a duty of care and this caused the birth injury. An example is the dangerous misuse of a vacuum or forceps during an assisted vaginal delivery.
- Surgical staff: if the mother requires a Caesarean section (C-Section) or surgical delivery, the surgeon or a member of the surgical staff could be held liable for an injury that occurs due to surgical errors during this procedure.
- The hospital or birthing center: the medical facility could be held liable if it contributed to the injury, such as with an unsafe premises or untrained staff. It could also be held vicariously responsible for the medical malpractice of its employees.
- A medical device manufacturer: if a birth injury was caused by a defective medical device, such as a Doppler ultrasound that fails to properly monitor fetal heart rate, the manufacturer of the product could be held responsible with a product liability claim.
- A pharmaceutical company: a drugmaker could also be held liable through a product liability lawsuit if a medication that was prescribed to a pregnant mother was dangerous or defective and this resulted in a birth injury or defect.
Identifying the correct liable party or parties is one of the first steps toward seeking justice for your child’s birth injury in Pennsylvania. If you are not sure who or what caused your birth injury, a medical malpractice lawyer can investigate for you by interviewing witnesses, hiring medical experts and perusing medical records.
Proving Liability for a Birth Injury
Once the liable party is determined, legal responsibility for the birth injury will need to be proven using a preponderance of the evidence. This is the burden of proof in a medical malpractice claim, meaning the plaintiff’s attorney must establish that the defendant is more likely to be at fault for the birth injury than not. This requires clear and convincing evidence that the health care provider breached the duty of care that was owed to the patient, and that this caused the birth injury.
For more information about how to file and prove a birth injury claim in Pennsylvania, contact a Pittsburgh personal injury attorney at our law firm by calling (800) 777-4081 for a free medical malpractice case evaluation.