Dealing with the premature birth of your child is a fearsome event. Premature deliveries are dangerous for both mother and child. Babies born prematurely are often underweight and must be delivered with extreme care. Medical professionals should be aware of this fact and be prepared to adapt when delivering a premature child. Unfortunately, the negligence of some medical professionals may result in your child being the victim of a serious birth injury. If your child suffered a birth injury because of the negligence of a medical practitioner, you should contact an experienced Baltimore birth injury lawyer today. The lawyers at Bennett & Heyman, P.A., possess extensive experience in medical malpractice cases and will use that experience to fight for you and your family. In this article, our attorneys explain whether birthweight can impact birth injury lawsuits in Maryland.
Common Injuries in Premature Birth
A premature birth occurs when a child is born approximately three weeks or more before the fortieth week of pregnancy. An infant that is born prematurely usually weighs much less than the average weight of a healthy infant. The average weight for a baby born after 37 weeks is six to nine pounds. A baby who weighs less than six pounds at birth is considered to have a low birthweight.
Premature births often cause a child to suffer lifelong health issues. The most common birth injuries associated with premature births include:
- Severe jaundice
- Respiratory issues
- Brain hemorrhages
- Hearing loss
- Developmental problems
- Feeding and digestion problems
- Cerebral palsy
- Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Infants with a low birthweight are also at risk of suffering severe bruises while traveling through the birth canal. Since a premature infant is fragile, a physician must exercise great care to avoid causing or aggravating any bruises an infant may suffer during the delivery.
How Birthweight Affects Birth Injury Claims in Baltimore
As described above, a child can suffer various injuries because of low birthweight. Doctors and other medical staff are responsible for creating a plan to help a mother prolong her pregnancy for as long as possible to avoid a premature birth. A medical team that does not take proper precautions to prevent a premature birth may face severe medical malpractice penalties.
There are various warning signs to indicate that a mother is at risk for premature delivery. Doctors should be able to identify these warning signs and develop a treatment plan to prevent a premature birth. Signs that a mother may give birth prematurely include:
- Being pregnant with twins
- Having previous miscarriages
- Maternal infections
- Maternal diabetes
- Maternal anorexia or maternal obesity
- Maternal high blood pressure (preeclampsia)
A physician is legally responsible for providing prenatal care that will keep a mother and her unborn child safe. Failure to diagnose a mother with symptoms that can cause a premature pregnancy may cause healthcare professionals to be liable for injuries to a low birthweight infant and the infant’s mother.
Additionally, healthcare professionals have a duty to avoid harming a low birthweight child during the delivery. For example, using forceps to help deliver a low birthweight child can cause the child to suffer from serious injuries because of their fragility. This also applies to vacuum-assisted deliveries.
A physician also has the responsibility of recognizing when to suggest an alternative birthing method, like a cesarean section (C-section). Physicians should understand when a natural birth is too risky for a low birthweight child and act appropriately to keep the child and mother safe.
Proving Your Natal Injury Case
To prove a medical malpractice case for a natal injury to your child, you must show that the injury was caused by hospital negligence, the negligence of a physician or nurse, or the negligence of another medical professional.
There are four factors that a plaintiff must show to prevail in a medical malpractice case. Those factors are:
- The healthcare provider owed a duty to the plaintiff.
- The healthcare provider breached that duty.
- The breach caused the plaintiff harm.
- The plaintiff suffered actual harm that a court can correct or order a defendant to reimburse plaintiff for injuries.
A plaintiff must prove all four of these elements if they wish to prevail in their birth injury case. An experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer can help.
Baltimore, MD Medical Malpractice Attorneys Fighting for Parents and Families
The attorneys of Bennett & Heyman, P.A. understand how stressful it is to see your child hurt by a medical professional you placed your trust in. If your child was the victim of a birth injury because of negligence, you should consult with an experienced Baltimore medical malpractice and personal injury attorney. We will fight for you to hold negligent doctors accountable for their actions. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (410) 845-2385, or contact us online.