There are possibly no two words more devastating to parents than “birth injury.” It is a blanket term that refers to injuries that occur before, during, or after birth. The results of a birth injury can be temporary, short-term, long-term, or permanent. In any event, the words “birth injury” mar forever a parent's memory of bringing their little one into the world – a memory that most parents are lucky enough to treasure as one of the best experiences of their lives.
When parents are expecting, they may be aware of possible birth defects. Tests can identify Spina bifida, Down's Syndrome, and other hereditary diseases in time for parents to make an informed decision about moving forward with the pregnancy or not. If they move forward with the pregnancy, parents know what to expect and have the time to prepare for it.
A birth injury, however, refers to an injury or condition that didn't have to happen. Often, when it does happen, it is the direct result of medical malpractice. When this occurs, the family may face weeks, months, or even a lifetime of medical expenses, special care, and medically necessary equipment. In these situations, the family deserves compensation for the mistakes of others.
Common Birth Injuries in Tennessee
Below are some common birth injuries. However, parents are cautioned: this is not an exhaustive list. There is any number of other conditions and injuries that can be the direct result of medical malpractice.
Common birth injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Erb's Palsy
- Cerebral Palsy
- Neck injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Spinal cord injuries
- Facial paralysis
- Shoulder dystocia
- Subconjunctival hemorrhaging or intracranial hemorrhaging
- Oxygen deprivation
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Death shortly after birth.
Understanding Medical Malpractice in Tennessee
Medical malpractice occurs when all of the following conditions are met:
- a medical professional (including doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, pharmacists, anesthesiologists, etc.) owes a duty of competent medical care to the patient, including to both the mother and the infant; and
- the medical professional breaches this duty of care by providing medical care below what is considered the generally accepted standard of care; and
- The patient suffers an injury or illness due to a breach of this duty of care.
There are many examples of breaches of the generally accepted standard of care. A shortlist includes:
- failing to diagnose fetal distress
- failing to properly prescribe medications
- failing to fulfill a prescription, like providing a higher or lower dose than the doctor ordered
- failing to use properly sterilized instruments
- failing to use instruments properly
- failing to appreciate an infant's size or position in utero and/or failing to amend the birth plan to take this into consideration
- dropping the baby
- performing or operating carelessly
- practicing medicine while high or drunk
- performing procedures beyond the skill set of the person providing the care.
When medical professionals cause injury to an infant, the child may require weeks, months, or years of treatment to address the injury. In some cases, the child will need a lifetime of ongoing medical care. Families may be surprised at the cost of this care. The good news is, in the State of Tennessee, the medical malpractice laws are designed to protect families who experience a birth injury by providing compensation when a medical professional's conduct (or lack of conduct) results in a birth injury.
Real-Life Medical Malpractice
Rebecca Fielding and Enso Martinez lived a real-life medical malpractice nightmare. It started innocently enough. Rebecca and Enso planned to give birth to their son at home with the assistance of an experienced midwife. Unfortunately, the birth process did not proceed according to plan. On the advice of their midwife, Rebecca and Enso went to Johns Hopkins, seeking medical assistance.
Medical Malpractice is Committed & a Birth Injury Occurred
Rebecca was examined at the hospital, and it was determined an emergency cesarean section was warranted. Despite the consensus that Rebecca and Enso's child was under stress and needed to be born quickly, the professionals at Johns Hopkins delayed the cesarean section by two hours.
Sadly, by the time the medical team at Johns Hopkins performed the necessary procedure, Rebecca and Enso's son had suffered permanent brain damage due to lack of oxygen. He will require lifelong care due to Johns Hopkins' choice to delay the necessary birthing procedure.
Consultation with Medical Malpractice Birth Injury Attorneys
Rebecca and Enso were devastated and overwhelmed. How would they ever be able to provide their son with the life long medical care he needed? Fortunately, Rebecca and Enso contacted the attorneys at Gilman and Bedigian, LLC. They meet with the couple and listened to their birth story.
Next, the attorneys consulted their own medical experts to determine whether the injury could be pinpointed. After all, Johns Hopkins doctors pointed to the time before Rebecca and Enso arrived at the hospital as the time during which the birth injury occurred. But the legal team at Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, learned from their experts this was simply not the case.
A Lawsuit Renders Full & Fair Compensation for the Birth Injury
Johns Hopkins' legal team refused to take responsibility for their actions or inaction. With no reasonable settlement offer, the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian, LLC took the case to trial. After all the facts were presented to the jury, the jury returned a verdict of $55 million dollars.
Now, Rebecca and Enso can make sure their son will get the ongoing medical care he needs.
Tennessee Statute of Limitations
As a general rule, Tennessee's statute of limitations is only one year. However, there are certain exceptions to that rule. Families should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss the facts and circumstances of their case.
Parents are reminded that doctors carry medical malpractice insurance specifically because they recognize even the most careful among them could make a mistake that could change a family's life forever.
Has Your Child Suffered a Birth Injury in Tennessee?
If you suspect that your child suffered a preventable birth injury due to the medical malpractice of one or more members of your birth team, contact us online today.