Pregnancy and childbirth. These should be some of the happiest moments in a woman’s life. The anticipation you experience as you become a family—the joy you feel as you welcome your baby into the world—can create special memories that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.
So when bad news comes or when tragedy befalls your family during these times, it’s especially devastating. What often makes it worse is that many tragedies associated with pregnancy and childbirth can be avoided. Sometimes, they come at the hands of a medical provider—a doctor, a nurse, a midwife—who has neglected their duties. When a healthcare provider is negligent in the discharge of their medical duties and you or your baby suffers harm as a result, that’s a type of medical malpractice referred to as obstetric malpractice or obstetrician malpractice.OB-GYN Medical Malpractice Explained
What is OB-GYN Malpractice? How is OB-GYN malpractice different from other kinds of malpractice? These are questions we often address at Hannon Legal Group. Malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide what the medical community has agreed is the minimum acceptable standard of care. OB-GYN malpractice occurs when an obstetrician or gynecologist (or a member of their staff) is negligent at any point in your diagnosis, your treatment, or your follow-up care in a way that causes harm to the mother or the child.Trends in OB/GYN Malpractice in South Florida and the United States
As a malpractice firm in Florida, we at the Hannon Legal Group are familiar with the current landscape with regard to OB-GYN malpractice. A recent New England Journal of Medicine study unearthed by Hannon Legal Group confirmed what we have experienced. Specifically, the authors of the study reported that medical malpractice occurs to children 20% of the time and women 60% of the time. These disproportionate instances of negligent care resulting in physical or emotional harm are reason enough to be vigilant both before you receive OB-GYN care and after the fact, should something go wrong. If complications arise that result in harm to you or your child, don’t just take the word of the doctor that these outcomes were unavoidable.Is it a birth defect or is it OB-GYN Malpractice?
While pregnancy and childbirth is a wonderful time in your life, it is not without risks. However, many of these risks can be mitigated with adequate medical care and attention. For instance, take the issue of birth defects.
Birth defects have many causes: there may be genetic factors, environmental factors, or other unknown factors. However, many cases of birth defects arise because the child received substandard prenatal care from a physician. In other cases, errors were committed during childbirth. Not only can some birth defects be detected before the child is born, advances in modern medicine have made it possible for them to be treated and even corrected in utero.
If your doctor fails to diagnose a condition which other medical professionals agree that a doctor doing their job adequately should be able to diagnose, it may be a case of medical malpractice.The Kinds of Negligence that Lead to OB-GYN Malpractice
The types of negligence that factor into cases of OB-GYN medical malpractice fall in some common categories:
- Misdiagnosis by a Provider - In other words, your doctor, when presented with evidence from tests and screenings, diagnosed your condition or your pre-born child’s condition incorrectly.
- Diagnosis Failure - This means that your physician had all the information needed to diagnose a condition during your pregnancy—for instance, Preeclampsia or Placenta Accreta—yet failed to make the diagnosis so that treatment could be provided in a timely manner.
- Transvaginal Mesh - When a transvaginal mesh that has been implanted causes organ failures, this could be a case of OB-GYN malpractice.
- Untimely C-section - There are times when a caesarean section must be performed immediately, or at least, as soon as possible. If your OB fails to do so, it is negligence.
- Prenatal Condition Oversight - You have the right to expect that your physician will discover and recognize life-threatening conditions such a tubal pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy and respond to them right away.
- Forceps Misuse - If your medical provider uses forceps improperly during childbirth, harm could come to you or your baby
- Umbilical Cord Complications - It is not enough that umbilical cord complications occur. Those can happen in even the most normal pregnancy. However, it is your doctor’s duty to discover this condition so that your baby does not suffer a brain injury or die..
- Asphyxiation-related Injuries to Your Baby - Through the negligent actions of hospital or operating room staff, your newborn could be tragically asphyxiated, causing organ damage or a brain injury.
- Surgical Errors - Errors that can occur in any surgical procedure may also occur during a caesarean section, or C-section. Sepsis and retained foreign bodies, such as surgical instruments, are just two examples.
The harm that can come to women and children because of the reckless and negligent care of a physician are varied but serious. Consider the various kinds of brain injuries that can befall a newborn.
Cerebral palsy (CP) occurs when a newborn doesn’t get enough oxygen during the delivery. Not only can the child’s muscular control be hindered for life, but also, the child could suffer serious cognitive deficits. That’s why it’s critical for your provider to monitor the baby’s vital signs and detect any issues before delivery takes place.
Shoulder dystocia could result in nerve trauma. Dystocia happens when the baby’s head can be delivered through the birth canal but one of the shoulder’s cannot. Irreparable nerve damage to the brachial plexus nerves could occur, causing conditions such as Erb’s palsy. Just because complications can arise during pregnancy and childbirth doesn’t absolve your doctor from taking the right precautions. For example, if you’ve already given birth to a baby who weighed at least 8 lbs, 9 oz., or experienced shoulder dystocia, or if gestation is already at 41 weeks, these and other clues should alert your physician to make plans to avoid the trauma you and your child might experience.
Other common obstetric injuries for which you can seek compensation for damages include:
- Abruptio placenta
- Bone fractures
- Damage to reproductive organs/Fertility loss
- Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
- Infections / Sepsis
- Laparoscopic surgery errors resulting in sterility, nerve damage, or tissue damage
- Neonatal death/Stillborn
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Ruptured uterus
- Unnecessary hysterectomy
- Vaginal tears
If you have been a victim of medical malpractice at the hands of an OB/GYN, Hannon Legal Group wants you and your family to know that you may be entitled to compensation. This compensation could include the following:
- Medical Bills: Compensation can be awarded to cover whatever current or future medical expenses necessary to correct the damage suffered by the mother or child. This includes costs to cover physical rehab or psychological therapy to recover from the trauma.
- Lost Wages: If the mom is injured and can’t return to work, she may be entitled to recover her lost wages.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for anguish which resulted from the malpractice may be awarded
- Wrongful Death: If wrongful death has occurred, compensation can include loss of society, lost earning capacity, the loss of consortium and pain and suffering that goes along with the grief suffered with the loss of a loved one.
- Punitive Damages: If the physician’s negligence was particularly egregious, additional monetary damages could be awarded in order to punish the defendant and help prevent similar behavior.
To ensure that you receive justice and that those who cause such trauma are held accountable, you’ll need a knowledgeable and experienced OB-GYN Medical Malpractice team based in Florida. Hannon Legal Group is that team. We understand what it takes to demonstrate that your physician’s substandard care led to the injury you or your baby experienced. We know medical professionals who can serve as credible expert witnesses, testifying about the particular mistakes that happened in you or your child’s treatment and the harm that resulted. We will listen to you and walk beside you on your journey to seek justice. Call (305) 358-3109 or email us today.