These days, women don't just arrive at the hospital in labor. They most often have a birth plan in place, and they expect that birth plan to be followed. In most cases, the delivery is successful, but for some parents, their plan for a perfect birth turns into a nightmare.
Gilman & Bedigian provide an overview of birth injuries – including what they are and when you can sue for compensation. These types of injuries are incredibly tragic and complicated. Knowing what a birth injury claim entails in Ohio will help you make informed decisions about how to move forward during a time you should have been celebrating rather than suffering.
Birth Injury and Death in Ohio
There are many reasons an infant may suffer a birth injury or death. Often times, this is due to negligence, carelessness, or quite simply a wrong choice about medical treatment and care. Common birth injuries include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb's Palsy
- Internal bleeding
- Irreversible brain damage, as well as
- Nerve damage.
A birth injury can also result in death. Sometimes the infant is stillborn. Other times, the infant dies shortly after birth. Nothing can prepare parents for dealing with a birth injury or infant death. Nothing can make up for the acts of others that result in a birth injury or death. But that doesn't mean you should do nothing about it. You – and if your child survived the birth injury – can file a birth injury claim.
There are steps parents can take to make certain that their surviving child is able to make the most of their life, given their situation based on the birth injury. For parents who have lost a child due to medical conduct, the steps they take can ensure better treatment for other parents in the future.
Causes of Birth Injuries: Medical Malpractice
A lot of the birth injuries that happen in Ohio are caused by a doctor's medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a substandard level of medical care. It often comes in the form of negligence, poor decision making, neglect, or omitting an important action. When it hurts someone, the doctor can be held liable. That liability can extend through the doctor to their hospital or medical institution. Together, they can be made to compensate the victims of the malpractice.
When it comes to birth injuries, the malpractice often involves:
- Neglecting the mother during labor
- Hurting the child during a C-section procedure
- Ignoring signs of fetal distress or not taking appropriate action when they are noticed
- Using so much force during an assisted delivery that the child gets hurt
- Prescribing drugs to a pregnant woman that could harm her unborn child's development
Many of these instances of malpractice cause birth injuries. Others cause medical complications that then lead to a birth injury. In either case, the doctor can be liable for the results. As long as the birth injury was a foreseeable outcome of their conduct, they can be held liable.
Causes of Birth Injuries: Genetics
Some medical issues that children are born with are the result of genetics. While these are technically not a birth injury – they are a birth defect – they can still lead to medical malpractice if they could have been detected.
Lots of genetic defects can be discovered in the first couple of months of the pregnancy. Many of them can be found with a simple genetic test.
Common Symptoms to Look For
Babies who are born with a birth injury can exhibit numerous symptoms, depending on the nature and the extent of the medical condition they have been born with.
Some of the easiest symptoms to see include:
- A fractured skull, which often comes with dents or bumps on the baby's head
- Seizures, which could also indicate a fractured skull
- Dislocated shoulder
- Fractured collarbone
- Other broken bones
- Muscle paralysis or partial paralysis in the baby's arms, hands, or facial muscles
- Severe breathing problems that require medical intervention for the child to breathe
Less apparent symptoms of a birth injury include:
- Breathing issues like constant coughing or wheezing
- Sensory issues, like hearing or vision loss
- Eating problems
- Swallowing problems, which can lead to uncontrollable drooling
- Nausea, constipation, and vomiting
- Excessive fatigue
- A burst blood vessel in the baby's eye, also known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage, which could be a symptom of other birth injuries that can be caused by excessive pressure on the baby's skull during the delivery
- Erratic eye movement, which could a symptom of a seizure
Some of these symptoms can be difficult to detect, even for parents who know what to look for. Seeing a pediatrician can be critical.
Some of the worst and longest-lasting birth injuries are those that cause neurological damage. Unfortunately, the symptoms to these birth injuries are the ones that are nearly impossible to detect for months. Only when the child begins to experience developmental delays can the extent of the damage be seen. These delays come in the form of late or missed developmental milestones. As the child falls behind his or her peers, it can be a sign that they are struggling to overcome the neurological damage of a birth injury.
Understanding What a Birth Injury Claim in Ohio Entails
In Ohio, when someone is injured due to the medical malpractice, they are entitled to certain compensation under the law. In Ohio, according to Ohio Rev. Code 2305.113(3), this includes:
any claim that is asserted in any civil action against a physician, podiatrist, hospital, home, or residential facility, against any employee or agent of a physician, podiatrist, hospital, home, or residential facility, or against a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, advanced practice registered nurse, physical therapist, physician assistant, emergency medical technician-basic, emergency medical technician-intermediate, or emergency medical technician-paramedic, and that arises out of the medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of any person.
Medical malpractice conduct can include:
- Acts or omissions in providing care;
- Improper hiring, training, retention, supervision of caregivers providing either medical treatment, medical care, or medical diagnosis;
- Claims arising out of the plan of care, or treatment, or diagnosis;
- Derivative claims of relief for parents or guardians of those submect to medical treatment, diagnosis or care, which can result in damages for any of the following:
- Loss of companionship or any other tangible loss sustained by the parent or guardian; and
- Expenditures of the parent or guardian for medical care or treatment, rehabilitation service, or other care, services, products, treatment, or accommodations.
Ohio Birth Injury Claims in Action
No one dreams of becoming a plaintiff in a medical malpractice action. In fact, many people are averse to engaging in litigation, particularly if they have developed a relationship with the obstetrician or other birthing team members. However, parents are often left with no choice. Consider the case of Rebecca Fielding and Enso Martinez. Like many families, they had a birth plan in place and anxiously anticipated the birth of their son. Like some families, their birth plan didn't go according to plan. Instead of the home birth they had dreamed of, their midwife advised them to go to the hospital, which they did.
Upon arriving at Johns Hopkins, Rebecca was examined. Their son was exhibiting signs of fetal distress – a clear indication that an emergency cesarean section was needed. However, the medical professionals at Johns Hopkins ignored these obvious signs of distress and waited two full hours before performing the much-needed surgery. Unfortunately, Rebecca, Enso, and their newborn son paid the price. Due to the lack of oxygen, their son was born with cerebral palsy, irreversible brain damage, and a host of other complications. He faces a lifetime of necessary medical care.
The professionals at Johns Hopkins refused to acknowledge their error. Instead, they insisted the damage wad Rebecca and Enso's fault. In most medical malpractice claims, cases settle. But in Rebecca and Enso's case, the hospital was unwilling to take responsibility. The lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian, LLC wouldn't take “no” for an answer. They brought the case to trial. The jury awarded Rebecca, Enso, and their son$55 million dollars. This will allow Rebecca and Enso to ensure their son has the care he needs throughout his life.
Filing Birth Injury Claims in Ohio
In order to file a claim for medical malpractice, the claim must be “timely.” This means it must be filed within certain prescribed time frames. In Ohio, the time frame for birth injury medical malpractice claims is governed by the Ohio Revised Code, Title 23, 2305.113. The basic rule is that medical malpractice actions must be filed within one year of the time the “cause of action accrued.” In other words, one year from the date of injury.
However, as with many areas of the law, Ohio's medical malpractice statute isn't as simple as a one-year cutoff. There are exceptions and modifications. These include a 180-day extension in certain circumstances. Additionally, where the claimant is a minor, the statute of limitations may extend to four years.
Though this would be unusual among birth injury claims, where the action is based upon a claim a foreign object was left in the body, the person has one year from the time the discovered or reasonably should have discovered the foreign object.
Contact a Birth Injury Attorney Representing Ohio Today
Contact Gilman & Bedigian online to get started on your case if you or a loved one has been hurt by a birth injury in California.