Birth injuries caused by delayed diagnosis are in many instances a consequence of medical negligence. Some maternal and infant conditions can significantly hurt the long-term health of the baby and the mother. Obstetricians and other medical practitioners, therefore, are legally bound to carefully examine mothers-to-be and their unborn babies to detect and address any condition or complication that is likely to affect the patients. A delayed diagnosis will lead to delayed treatment, which can be dangerous to both the mother and the unborn baby.
Maternal Conditions that Can Impact the Unborn Child’s Health
Certain maternal conditions expose unborn babies to serious health risks. Failure to recognize symptoms, perform appropriate tests, or offer a correct and timely diagnosis of these maternal conditions could lead to a range of serious, life-threatening birth injuries. These injuries include cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, brachial plexus, and perinatal hypoxia.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs), preeclampsia, diabetes, anemia, prolonged labor, and hypertension are examples of maternal conditions that can inflict a birth injury to an unborn child. These conditions can, however, be promptly diagnosed and addressed to protect both the mother and the unborn child from any harm.
Infant Conditions that can Impact the Unborn Child’s Health
Some infant conditions may endanger the life of an unborn child. They include:
- Overweight infants: Heavier infants tend to experience a challenging birthing process, which makes them more prone to birth injuries.
- Premature births: Premature infants are more likely to suffer birth injuries due to their insufficiently developed muscles, bones, and nervous system.
- Unusual fetal position and presentation: Infants that present themselves in head-up, buttocks-first during the birthing process are susceptible to birth injuries.
- Fetal distress: Fetal distress refers to signs or symptoms manifesting before or during delivery that show that the unborn child is unwell. Fetal distress is often a sign that the unborn child isn’t getting sufficient oxygen.
- Fetal heart defects: These heart defects can be either structural or functional. Structural heart defects include heart valve blockage, while functional defects include abnormal heart rhythm.
The failure of medical practitioners to diagnose and quickly address problems like the size, weight, presentation, position, and overall well-being of an unborn child may amount to medical negligence. Abnormal fetal size, presentation, and position as well as fetal distress can cause many different complications.
Determining Liability for Birth Injuries
Determining who is liable for a birth injury is always a difficult task for most parents. If parents, however, suspect that a delayed diagnosis may have contributed to the injury, they should work closely with an injury attorney. The attorney can investigate the injury and look at medical records to establish if there is enough proof to demonstrate that an injury was due to medical malpractice.
If a medical practitioner fails to follow the set standard of care and injures the child or the mother, the medical practitioner should be held responsible for all resultant damages. In such a case, the affected family may pursue compensation for both tangible and intangible damages. The tangible damages are future medical costs, lost paycheck, and loss of earning capability, while intangible damages include emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.