It is an unfortunate fact that many children are born with birth defects, ranging from minor to serious. In the U.S., the CDC estimates 120,000 children are born each year with some type of birth defect, some of which can cause serious disability or even death. Some are preventable, others are not.
When a child is born with a birth defect, parents want to know the cause and if the defect could have been prevented. In some cases, the answers may lead to a medical error by a physician that was a contributing factor in their child’s birth defect. If this is the case, it may be possible to file a medical malpractice claim and then a lawsuit against the doctor responsible for causing or contributing to the birth defect.
Can Birth Defects be Caused by Doctor Error?
When it comes to birth defects and medical malpractice, the cases can be very complex. It can be difficult to prove that a medical error was the cause of a birth defect, but it is not impossible. First, it is important to understand the difference between the different types of birth defects and their causes.
Many birth defects are caused from genetics. These are not preventable or caused by anything that the parents or doctors did or did not do during pregnancy, as is often the case in Down’s syndrome. A single gene mutation can cause the defect, or there may be multiple genetic issues. There are also many birth defects where the cause is not known.
Another major factor impacting the possibility of birth defects is environment. This can include smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs during pregnancy. Environmental factors are preventable, which is why a doctor error that leads to a birth defect can mean liability on the part of the physician. An example is a doctor prescribing a medication for a woman who is pregnant when it is known the medication can be harmful to a fetus. If the child is born with a birth defect that is linked to the medication the mother was wrongfully prescribed by her doctor, that doctor could possibly be sued for medical malpractice.
Birth Defects Versus Birth Injuries
There is often some confusion between what is a birth defect and what is a birth injury. A child born with brain damage may have had the damage occur before he was born due to exposure to chemicals or from genetic issues, which is a birth defect. He also may have been injured during childbirth, causing the brain damage, which is a birth injury. Both have the same effect, and both could be caused by a physician’s error, but they need to be approached differently when pursuing a claim against a doctor for medical malpractice.
A claim seeking compensation for a birth defects can be more easily defended by the doctor. Defense attorneys for the physician can argue that genetic factors could be to blame for the birth defect, not medical error.
Birth injuries are more commonly caused by medical errors, as compared to birth defects. When it is known the injury occurred during delivery, exploring the evidence can reveal whether the injury was caused by medical error or if it could have been prevented. Medical malpractice for birth injuries often includes not responding quickly when the fetus shows signs of distress or causing damage to the infant during an assisted delivery.
Should You Pursue a Medical Malpractice Claim for a Birth Defect or Injury?
If you feel your child’s birth defect or injury was caused by your doctor or the delivery team, you have the right to explore legal options. Birth defects and injuries require extensive medical care and can impact the quality of life for your child. If there is evidence that the defect or injury could have been prevented by your doctor or was caused by medical negligence, you could receive compensation that will help you get the best care for your child. This outcome can alleviate some of the financial burden and allow you to focus on finding the right care that will give your child the best life.
Louisiana Birth Defect Attorneys
When it comes to medical malpractice claims and lawsuits, you can trust our team at Nelson & Hammons. We have been serving the people in our communities for decades when they have been injured due to a medical error. If your child was born with a birth defect or birth injury that you believe was caused by medical malpractice, let our team help you discover whether you should pursue a medical malpractice claim for compensation. Contact our offices in Shreveport or Lafayette to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.