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FAQs about medical malpractice claims and birth injury

For many families, the birth of a child is an exciting and happy time. Ideally, the labor and delivery process goes smoothly, and a happy, healthy infant joins the family. But sometimes the story does not have a happy ending. In some cases, the negligent or reckless action of a medical professional can result in injury or death to the newborn or mother. Those who find themselves in these situations will likely have a number of questions, such as:

Who is responsible for the injury?

There are a number of possibilities when it comes to determining who is responsible for a birth injury. For example, a physician or other medical professional may have failed to follow accepted standards of care. Or the medical facility may not have been vigilant in hiring capable professionals. In other cases, the makers of medical devices used during procedures may be liable if those products cause an unreasonable risk of harm. Determining liability ultimately depends on the details of each case.

Who holds these physicians responsible?

When medical mistakes result in injury, the parties at fault may be liable to the affected patients and their families. Obstetric physicians and midwives can also be held accountable by their peers. Medical professionals, for example, are licensed to practice medicine, and failure to follow established practices can result in the loss of a physician's medical license.

What are common causes of birth injuries?

According to a study published in the United States National Library of Medicine's National Institute of Health's National Center for Biotechnology Information, the top cause for disciplinary action in the labor and delivery setting is the improper interpretation of fetal monitoring and a corresponding failure to recognize fetal distress. This type of medical error was responsible for 76 percent of disciplinary actions in the cases reviewed in the study.

A failure to properly monitor an infant during the labor and delivery process can lead to the physician missing signs of distress. Distress can result in insufficient oxygen to the brain which could result in serious injuries to the infant, including brain damage and cerebral palsy.

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