Austin Birth Injury Lawyers

Understanding Birth Injuries and Your Legal Rights

If you or your child were injured during labor or delivery, you understandably have many concerns.  At Brown, Christie & Green, our Austin birth injury lawyers are frequently contacted by families who have questions about birth injuries and their legal rights.  When a birth injury occurs, it can be difficult to sort out the cause of the injury and determine who may be responsible.

Of course, there are some complications and medical events that cannot be prevented or predicted.  Unfortunately, the majority of birth injury cases are the result of medical malpractice or negligence.  That means that a healthcare provider violated the standards of care in some way, and this violation resulted in harm to you or your child.

Birth injuries are often preventable by following the standards of care.

Examples of violating the standards of care could include using too much force during delivery, failing to monitor vital signs, failing to order a c-section, or improperly using delivery tools.  These are only a few examples of the actions or inactions that could cause birth injuries.  The result of these injuries can cause serious physical, mental, and emotional harm to you and your child.

Healthcare provider negligence is never acceptable.  As a patient, you have certain legal rights, including the right to care that meets accepted standards.  When your rights and these standards are violated, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the person responsible for your injuries.  Birth injury lawsuits are complex legal matters, which is why you need the Austin birth injury lawyers at Brown, Christie & Green on your side.

Examples of Healthcare Provider Negligence
  • Failure to diagnose or treat a medical condition
  • Failure to order a c-section when needed
  • Improper administration of medications
  • Inappropriate operation of medical equipment
  • Inappropriate use of epidural-related drugs

Understanding and protecting your legal rights is important after a birth injury.

How Common are Medical Errors?

When you seek medical attention, the last thing on your mind is the possibility that the person caring for you could do more harm than good.  Unfortunately, new research indicates that a significant number of Americans are injured, or die, as a direct result of medical errors, rather than a medical condition requiring treatment.  A report published in the BMJ earlier this month suggests that medical errors may be the third leading cause of death among U.S. patients, following cancer and heart disease.

Medical error sign

The BMJ report listed the following four scenarios in their definition of medical error deaths:

  • Diagnostic error
  • System defect or failure to rescue a patient
  • Preventable adverse event
  • Error in judgment, coordination of care, or skill

These definitions encompass a broad range of actions or omissions that can occur in any healthcare setting including hospitals, doctors offices, surgical centers, and nursing homes.  Some of the most common types of medical errors include:

  • Failure to diagnose or treat illness in a timely manner
  • Operating on the wrong body part or the wrong patient
  • Surgical objects left behind in the patient’s body following surgery
  • Inadequate care of wounds or surgical sites resulting in infection
  • Improper care of bedridden patients resulting in bedsores
  • Injuries to mother or child during labor and delivery
  • Medication errors including improper dosage, wrong prescriptions, or improperly filled prescriptions. Injuries from medication errors may include worsening of symptoms, unnecessary side effects, drug interactions, and overdose.

Dangers of Medical Errors

The recent BMJ report focuses on the number of deaths associated with medical errors.  While this is certainly a significant concern, it should be noted that medical errors can cause numerous long-term consequences for patients.  Some of these consequences may include:

  • Missed or improper diagnosis can result in worsening of the patient’s condition, and missed opportunities for effective treatment that could improve the patient’s quality of life in the short and long-term.
  • Surgical errors may be among the most traumatic, and can result in deformity, loss of limbs, need for subsequent surgeries, and infection.
  • Anesthesia errors include failure to properly administer anesthesia, failure to monitor vital signs, and failure to check the patient’s records.  These errors can result in brain damage, permanent injury, or death.
  • Negligence during labor and delivery can result in serious birth injuries and defects, including Cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injury, shoulder dystocia, nerve damage, fractures, and seizures.

In addition to the problems medical errors cause for patients, it is also costing the taxpayers a significant sum of money.  According to the Inspector General (IG), medical errors cost taxpayers in excess of $4 billion each year.

Common Frequently Asked Questions

What does “standard of care” mean?

Simply put, the standard of care is the type of skill and care ordinarily used by a reasonably well-qualified healthcare professional in the same or similar situation. While state law typically determines how negligence is defined, the medical community defines the applicable standard of care. Healthcare professionals are expected to possess and apply their education, training, knowledge, experience, and skill in a manner that would generally be expected by other healthcare professionals in their field and community.

What kinds of situations lead to a birth injury lawsuit?

If a physician or other medical professional fails to adequately assess or respond to conditions during pregnancy or the labor and delivery process that lead to complications, they may be liable for medical negligence.

How much time do I have to pursue a medical malpractice claim?

The amount of time that you have to pursue a claim is known as the “statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations is a set time limit, as determined by state laws, to file a medical malpractice claim. This time limit varies by state, and sometimes by facility. Time is of the essence, so contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately if you believe that you have suffered at the hands of a negligent healthcare professional or facility.