If you or your child have suffered an injury due to the negligence of a medical professional during your child´s delivery, you may be entitled to make a claim for medical malpractice during birth. Not all childbirth injuries are attributable to medical malpractice, so it will have to be demonstrated that there was a breach in the duty of care which “at the time and in the circumstances” resulted in an avoidable injury being sustained.
This article provides a few examples of when it may be possible to claim compensation for childbirth medical malpractice and the processes involved. However, it should be noted that no two childbirth injuries or their consequences are exactly identical, and it is always in your best interests to speak with a medical negligence solicitor at the first possible opportunity to discuss the specific circumstances of the injury sustained by you or your child.
What is Childbirth Medical Malpractice?
Childbirth medical malpractice is when an act or omission by a healthcare professional deviates from the accepted standard of care in the medical community. This means to establish medical malpractice during birth, the standard of care provided for you and your child will be reviewed by an independent medical expert to investigate whether the injury sustained by you or your child was attributable to a poor professional performance.
Compensation for childbirth medical malpractice can be awarded for injuries sustained before, during or after the delivery of your child. Consequently, if the risk of a childbirth injury could have been identified during your pregnancy, but no action was taken to reduce the risk, you will be able to claim compensation for childbirth medical malpractice if an injury occurs during childbirth that could have been prevented with an alternative course of action at an earlier stage.
Examples of such pre-delivery scenarios include:
- The failure to treat conditions such as diabetes or thyroid problems
- Being prescribed a medication that was known might cause an adverse reaction
- The failure to adequately monitor your child in the womb
Claim for Asphyxia during Birth
Once labour is underway, the failure to adequately monitor your child in the womb can result in foetal distress going unnoticed. If you child is distressed because he or she is not receiving sufficient oxygen, the results can be catastrophic. Your child could suffer from cerebral palsy, brain damage and permanent disabilities, and you would be entitled to claim for asphyxia during birth on behalf of your child.
Claim for Erb´s Palsy due to Medical Malpractice
Erb´s Palsy is one of the more serious conditions that can develop when excessive force has been used to extract your child from the womb. The condition affects the mobility and senses of the upper arm, and although many brachial plexus injuries responsible for Erb´s Palsy heal naturally, if your child develops a permanent injury, you will be eligible to claim for Erb´s Palsy due to medical malpractice on your child´s behalf.
Claim for Childbirth Spinal Cord Injuries
If your child suffers a spinal cord injury due to a medical professional using forceps or a vacuum delivery incorrectly, you will be able to claim for childbirth spinal cord injuries due to medical malpractice. If your child was identified in the womb as being larger than average – and there was a risk of injury from a vaginal delivery – this is one of the scenarios in which plans could have been made to delivery your baby by C-Section and prevent the injuries from occurring.
Claim for Childbirth Injuries to a Mother
It is also possible to claim for childbirth injuries to a mother due to medical malpractice if you suffer any avoidable injury due to a lack of care. You should be eligible to claim for medical malpractice during birth if a delivery procedure results in abnormal bleeding due to a uterine rupture or placental abruption, broken bones, excessive bruising, or an infection after your child is born.
Making a Compensation Claim for Medical Malpractice during Birth
Once it has been established that you or your child suffered an avoidable injury due to medical malpractice during birth, the usual course of action is that your solicitor will send a “Letter of Claim” to the NHS Trust responsible for the standard of healthcare at the venue where your child was delivered.
The NHS Trust has ninety days to conduct its own investigation into the claim for medical malpractice during birth, and then it will either accept liability for the injuries sustained during childbirth or contest the claim for compensation for childbirth medical malpractice.
If liability is accepted, you solicitor will start negotiations with the NHS Litigation Authority to resolve your claim for medical malpractice during birth. If the claim is contested, your solicitor will consider the strength of the NHS Trust´s defence against the strength of your case and discuss with you whether court proceedings should be considered.
If court proceedings are eventually issued, it does not necessarily mean that you and your child will have to be witnesses at a court hearing. Claims for compensation for childbirth medical malpractice are often resolved “out-of-court”, and you will only have to attend court to have the settlement of a claim made on behalf of your child approved by a judge.
How Much Compensation for Childbirth Medical Malpractice?
How much compensation for childbirth medical malpractice you or your child will be entitled to depends on a number of factors. The nature and extent of the injury is usually what captures the headlines; but, in the case of a catastrophic injury to a child, a lifetime of lost income and the cost of care and support for your child will be the primary driving factors in the settlement of a claim for medical malpractice during birth.
Your solicitor will calculate compensation for childbirth medical malpractice to include any deterioration in the quality of life that will be anticipated, and any quantifiable psychological injury you may have sustained due to the emotional trauma you have experienced. Your solicitor will explain each factor within the settlement of a claim for medical malpractice during birth once medical malpractice has been established.
Further Information about Childbirth Medical Malpractice Claims
If you would like to speak with a solicitor about making a claim for medical malpractice during birth before committing to legal action, you are invited to call our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau. Our solicitor will be able to provide impartial and accurate advice about making a claim for medical malpractice during birth and the process for instigating an investigation into whether the injury sustained by you or your child could have been prevented with greater care “at the time and in the circumstances”.
You are under no obligation to proceed with a claim for medical malpractice during birth when you contact us and all calls to our Medical Negligence Advice Bureau are completely confidential. You can call us at any time to get further information about claiming compensation for childbirth medical malpractice, and then focus on recovering from your injury and caring for your child while we investigate whether there is a compensation claim for medical malpractice during birth that may be worth your while to pursue.