Seeking medical treatment can be intimidating. There can be a lot going on that we might not understand and there is a lot of information about what to expect when recovering that might be confusing. This can make it hard to figure out if something has gone wrong during the medical treatment, or if it is par for the course. When you are having a baby this can be even more intimidating, because you are concerned about your own health as well as the health of your baby.
Doctors and nurses are held to a high standard because they are responsible for human lives. They constantly owe a duty of care to their patients. If they fall below that standard of care, and a medical injury results, it could be the medical practitioner’s fault. Obstetrics involves a duty to a mother and her baby. This means that the doctors and nurses must act with additional care. If the standard of care is not met, then the injury may have been caused by the doctor or nurse’s inability to meet the required standard of care. When there is negligence during a baby’s delivery usually the injuries are catastrophic and the cost of care for the injured is extremely high. Therefore, in the event that you or your baby experience medical complications that you feel could be due to negligence, consulting apersonal injury lawyer will help you decide your next step.
The typical medical malpractice cases of baby delivery are in circumstances where the standard of care is not met in one or more of three areas:
First in order to meet the standard of care, the doctors and nurses have to act with urgency. The difference of a few minutes can be the difference between injury to the baby and no injury. Many cases where there is liability for the baby’s injury it is because of unreasonably slow response to critical problems. Common issues that arise include responding to shoulder dystocia, delays in calling assistance or notifying a superior when presented with a critical or suspect issue and the failure to recognize a potential fetal compromise and expedite the baby appropriately.
Next the care in the Obstetrics unit requires a level of care that involves anticipation. Obstetricians must respond urgently when critical issues arise, but they also must anticipate the possibility of critical issues arising and be prepared to act accordingly. Some common injuries should be anticipated so that they will be dealt with urgently.
For example shoulder dystocia should be anticipated as a possible problem and there should be a planned response in place in case it occurs. Another example is if a doctor attempts mid-forceps delivery, there should always be a plan in place to go to the operating room immediately and perform a Caesarean section if the delivery fails.
Finally for the medical team to meet the standards of care they must maintain excellent communication skills. Medical treatment has been improved from team approaches but communication amongst the medical team is crucial to positive outcomes. Failure to adequately communicate can result in disastrous consequences to the medical care, especially when it comes to delivering a baby. Treatment was found to fall below the standard of required care when the doctor did not give the nursing staff and residents sufficient direction of how to monitor the pregnancy of a patient with gestational diabetes. Another way that lack of communication can have negative impacts is when the obstetricians do not communicate enough with each other or give frequent direction or information to nursing staff to adequately manage the delivery.
If you or your baby suffered an injury during the course of your medical treatment you should determine if the standard of care employed by the doctors and nurses was inappropriate or negligent. If it is your determination that the medical team did not anticipate the critical issue, respond urgently to the critical issue, or communicate adequately during the course of treatment then there it may be possible that they were negligent. Consulting a personal injury lawyer will ensure you can pursue compensation for these acts of negligence. The lawyer can review your medical records to determine if the medical team was negligent and advise you on how to proceed so you are compensated for the injuries that resulted.