The emotional shock of medical negligence occurring in the delivery room can sometimes deter new parents from taking legal action over their child's injuries. Nevertheless, parents should understand that they and their children are entitled to seek compensation for injuries caused by medical malpractice on the part of a hospital, attending physicians and staff.
A family now living in Virginia recently agreed to accept $9 million in settlement of their claim that the hospital in which the mother gave birth was medically negligent. The size of the settlement reflected the fact that the child is expected to require round-the-clock care for the rest of his life because the hospital's negligence caused the baby to develop cerebral palsy.
The family claimed that the hospital was medically negligent because hospital staff failed to respond promptly to the mother's severe abdominal pain and because the staff were slow in ordering a cesarean section. The hospital was also accused of failing to promptly notify the obstetrician that the mother had come to the hospital and was experiencing severe abdominal pain. The pregnancy had been closely watched by the obstetrician because the mother had experienced miscarriages before and was considered to be at an elevated risk for uterine rupture.
It is worth noting that the settlement in this case was reached with the hospital and not with a treating physician. Hospitals have an independent duty to their patients to provide sufficient nursing and support staff, to ensure that the staff is adequately trained and supervised, and to provide instruments, drugs and sterile conditions that are necessary for the proper treatment of the patient.
An experienced attorney can help parents deal with the pain of a child whose serious birth defect was the result of medical malpractice by guiding them through the legal process until the claim is resolved. Many birth defects will require lifetime care, and parents should not be discouraged from seeking compensation for the cost of such care from the responsible parties.
Source: Insurance Journal, "$9M Settlement For Boy's Cerebral Palsy From Hawaii Hospital," Jan. 30, 2014