Even if a doctor or nurse was directly responsible for a newborn’s birth injury, you can still sue the hospital where the baby was delivered. If you can prove that the injury to a newborn was caused by a medical mistake, either parent may be able to file a medical malpractice case against the hospital and any other medical professionals who were involved.
In order to sue for a birth injury, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within Virginia’s statute of limitations. In this state, minors under the age of eight have until their 10th birthday to file a birth injury lawsuit. For parental claims, you’ll have two years from the time of the injury to file.
Keep scrolling to learn more about how hospitals contribute to birth injuries and what to do if your child has been injured in a Virginia hospital.
About Birth Injuries
Approximately 29 out of every 1,000 births in the United States results in an infant with some type of birth injury. Parents can and do sue hospitals when they believe their baby’s injury was caused by malpractice. Often the result is a six- or even seven-figure settlement or award, though this is by no means the outcome in every case.
Medical malpractice can affect babies in their families in a variety of different ways. Some of the most common birth injuries that result in lawsuits include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Birth asphyxia
- Fractured collarbone
- Caput succedaneum
- Spinal cord injury
- Oxygen deprivation
To understand why filing a lawsuit against the hospital may be the right thing to do, you must first understand the direct role medical facilities may play in birth injuries.
How Hospitals Contribute to Birth Injuries
Often injuries that happen during birth are partly or entirely caused by mismanaged hospital operations. The following are some of the most common reasons a poorly run hospital can lead to birth injuries.
Medical professionals need quality training because any mistakes they make are potentially life-threatening. When training is lacking, nurses or other staff can make critical mistakes while reading printouts from monitors, administering medications, or handling delicate infants. Any of these situations can lead to brain injuries that can cause disabilities.
There have been many cases in which fatigue and understaffing have led to overworked doctors and nurses who fell asleep, causing them to miss the opportunity to avert a tragedy. Hospitals that underpay their staff may also cause nurses to be forced to take on extra shifts to make ends meet, putting them at further risk of exhaustion. Critical monitor readings can be missed when this happens. Another potential complication of exhaustion is incorrect medication or dosages.
Midwives and doctors are also frequently overworked. In fact, obstetricians have the highest rate of burnout and depression compared to other specialties. Because of this, they tend to retire at an earlier age.
Outdated or Poorly Maintained Equipment
Careful monitoring of both the laboring mother and the fetus is key if hospitals are to make sure babies have the safest possible delivery. When monitoring equipment isn’t functioning properly, this is simply not possible. Hospitals have a duty to keep their equipment up to date. When they fail, babies can be hurt.
How to Sue If Your Baby Has Been Injured
Hospitals have a duty of care to their patients and their staff. If you believe the hospital where your baby was delivered was responsible for their birth injury, an attorney can answer your questions and direct you to resources that can help. Visit the following Virginia Cerebral Palsy Lawyer page for more information about state laws and whether or not you have a viable case.
It is important to look into the reputation of any hospital you are thinking of using in the future. Childbirth is different from many other situations that can result in a hospital stay because it is usually a non-emergency event that can be planned ahead of time.
Take advantage of this by searching for negative incidents online, getting recommendations from friends and family, and taking a tour of any hospital that is on your list. The quality of your obstetrician is important, but when you’re ready to deliver, your OB may not be on call. You want to make sure you’re in the best possible hands in the event that this happens.