Fetal distress, when the baby fails to get enough oxygen, is one example of a risk that babies face during birth. This condition can lead to serious birth injuries, especially if a doctor does not respond to the condition properly. If the parents believe that a health professional’s negligence contributed to their child’s injuries, they can file a medical malpractice lawsuit for damages their child sustains after the birth
What is fetal distress?
Fetal distress occurs when the baby’s oxygen supply is disrupted either while in the uterus or when passing through the birth canal.
There are many signs of fetal distress including:
- decreased fetal movement;
- meconium (fetal stool) in the birth water; or
- fetus blood around the birth canal.
Doctors can also use external and internal monitoring of the baby and monitoring of the mother’s contractions to detect whether the fetus is getting enough oxygen. Failing to recognize fetal distress early enough can lead to serious complications.
Many different types of birth injuries may be related to lack of oxygen reaching the baby during delivery, including:
- cerebral palsy;
- mental disabilities; and
- developmental disabilities.
These injuries can lead to both physical and mental disabilities and developmental problems.
Did the doctor respond appropriately?
During delivery, doctors and nurses need to carefully monitor the baby’s oxygen level and respond to signs of fetal distress. They should also look for umbilical cord entrapment and other problems with the baby’s positioning that can cause distress.
When the condition is diagnosed early enough, the doctor may use either a cesarean section or assistive birthing devices to speed up delivery. Failure to use these and other methods to speed up delivery may indicate negligence, and parents may pursue a medical malpractice claim for damages.
Fetal Distress: Medical Malpractice Cases
Parents can file a medical malpractice lawsuit if they believe the doctor was negligent while delivering their child. In order to win these lawsuits, the parents need to prove the doctor violated a standard of care. This means the defendant failed to provide the type and level of care that a similarly qualified health professional would have provided in the same circumstances. Different economic and non-economic damages can be a part of the medical malpractice lawsuit.
- occupational therapy;
- in-home care;
- special equipment;
- home modification; and/or
- other special healthcare that the child will need for the rest of his or her life.
Considerations in Medical Malpractice Cases
In order to win a malpractice claim, the parents need to bring their lawsuit within the statute of limitations. Normally, Florida’s medical malpractice statute of limitations is two years from the date of discovery, and no action may be brought more than four years from the date of occurrence. But malpractice cases brought on behalf of a child must be brought by the child’s eighth birthday.
Florida also maintains the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Fund. This fund provides compensation for children with certain neurological injuries that are birth-related. The compensation is provided regardless of any negligence on behalf of a healthcare provider. But if the parents recover compensation from the fund, they cannot recover additional malpractice compensation.
Talk to an attorney about this fund and filing a lawsuit against a negligent doctor to determine if you qualify for either, and which may be in your best interests. Chalik & Chalik is a law firm handling medical malpractice claims for Florida families. Our office can be reached at 855-971-1701 or via our online contact form.