A premature birth occurs when a child is born on or before the thirty-seventh week of pregnancy. There are various complications that can result from a child being born too early. Medical practitioners and hospitals should ensure they exercise care when dealing with a premature child to avoid causing a birth injury in Maryland. If your child was injured after being born prematurely, you should consult with an experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer today. The lawyers at Bennett & Heyman, P.A. are here to help you hold careless medical staff responsible for injuries caused by hospital negligence. In this article, our Baltimore birth injury attorneys explain when you can sue for premature birth in Maryland.
Who is at Risk for Premature Birth?
As mentioned above, a premature birth is a birth that happens at least three weeks before the estimated due date. Children who are born closer to the fortieth week of pregnancy will typically have fewer health problems than a child born prematurely. While some of these health problems may resolve themselves, there are also serious and long-term complications that can affect a premature child. Medical practitioners have a duty to recognize these complications and propose treatment for the premature baby.
While there is no exact cause for why a baby is born prematurely, there are several risk factors that could contribute to a premature birth, including but not limited to the following:
- A mother having a previous premature pregnancy
- Being underweight or overweight before becoming pregnant
- Previous miscarriages or abortions
- Complications with the uterus or placenta
- Using drugs or smoking
- Becoming pregnant a few months after giving birth
- Being involved in situations that cause severe stress
If you are at risk for a premature birth, the medical staff in charge of your pregnancy should exercise care when delivering the baby. Children who are born prematurely are usually smaller than a child born at the fortieth week of pregnancy. For example, children born at the fortieth week are approximately seven pounds, while children born at the thirty-seventh week are about two pounds lighter.
Who is Liable for a Premature Birth Injury in Maryland?
A premature child is susceptible to several health issues. Some of those issues may occur naturally, and would not necessarily be the fault of a medical practitioner. However, some injuries may be negligently inflicted by medical staff members who do not exercise care when dealing with a premature child.
Physicians may use birth-assisting tools to help extract the baby from the birth canal. Tools like forceps or vacuum suction can help deliver a child. However, if used improperly, these tools can also cause the child to suffer an injury, especially a fragile premature child. The misuse of birth-assisting tools can leave a child with serious bruises, fractures, and even long-term complications. Physicians who negligently use birth-assisting tools and injure a baby can be held liable for their actions.
Patients who are injured by the medical staff at a hospital can hold those healthcare providers liable by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are four elements to a medical malpractice lawsuit that a plaintiff (injured person) must prove to prevail in their case:
- The medical practitioner owed a duty to avoid injuring the plaintiff
- The medical practitioner breached that duty
- The breach of that duty caused the plaintiff harm
- The plaintiff suffered harm that can be compensated in some way
Medical malpractice can encompass several different types of legal cases. For example, if there is an identifiable risk of a premature birth and a doctor fails to diagnose it, they may be liable for an injury they could have prevented. A misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose lawsuit is rooted in the idea that a doctor had the opportunity to find a complication with a patient but failed to do so.
If the delivery of a premature child becomes too dangerous for the child or mother, the doctor in charge of the pregnancy should be prepared to order an emergency cesarean section. C-sections are primarily used when a mother is having difficulty with a vaginal birth, or the infant is in distress during delivery. Doctors who proceed without a C-section even after noticing an issue with the delivery may be held liable for negligence.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can File Your Claim
If your child was injured during a premature delivery at a hospital in Maryland, you should speak with an experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer about your family’s legal options. The dedicated attorneys of Bennett & Heyman, P.A. are here to serve your family in your time of need. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 410-429-7856, or contact us online.