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When is a birth injury considered medical malpractice?

A birth defect is likely more common than you think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in every 33 infants is born with a serious injury or medical condition, which is one of the leading causes of death among infants. While many of the conditions are unpreventable, there are a number of cases in which a physician commits a medical mistake either during the pregnancy or during the labor that results in a child coming into the world with an injury.

Some common examples of medical malpractice as it relates to birth injuries include the following:

  • Wrongful birth – This occurs when a doctor fails to tell parents about a fetus’ medical condition and the parents would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy.
  • Failure to monitor oxygen – If infants in utero are denied oxygen, they can develop a number of conditions or even die.
  • Failure to monitor the mother – Medical staff should look for signs that could indicate hemorrhaging and excessive blood loss.
  • Wrongful pregnancy – Some parents try to avoid pregnancy through sterilization or abortion, and if the negligence of a physician results in a child – even a healthy one – the parents may have a case.

If you think you have suffered negligence, you will have to prove that the medical staff deviated from the standard of care and that the deviation directly resulted in the injury. Under Massachusetts medical malpractice law, a tribunal composed of one state superior court justice, one physician and an attorney will listen to your case in order to determine if negligence occurred or if it was an unfortunate outcome.

If the tribunal rules in your favor, there is a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. There is no cap, however, on damages such as compensation for medical expenses. If you believe you or your child has suffered a birth injury, you should consult with an attorney.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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