Who Can Be Held Liable if My Baby Was Born with a Brain Injury in Massachusetts?

When a baby is born with a brain injury, there are some options that a parent might be able to pursue to hold parties accountable.  In many cases, health care providers can be held liable for the baby’s injuries.

When doctors deliver a baby, they must take steps to keep the baby safe and healthy.  When they fail to properly follow the standard of care in performing their duties, they could be held responsible for any resulting injuries.  This often includes brain injuries from trauma to the baby’s head or from lack of oxygen.

For help holding a doctor liable for your baby’s brain injuries, call the Boston medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today.  Call (617) 925-6407 for a free case review.

Holding Doctors Liable for Baby’s Brain Injuries in Massachusetts

Babies do not typically suffer brain injuries on their own without something happening to them.  In rare cases, a brain injury will be unavoidable because of the circumstances of the pregnancy or the birth.  In other cases, something that the mother did while the baby was still in the womb could also be the cause of a brain injury.  However, it is relatively common that brain injuries could actually be the doctor’s fault.

Doctors are always held to a “standard of care” when providing care to any patient, including a baby they are delivering.  The circumstances of each delivery and the specific requirements of the standard of care will change from case to case, and it often takes another doctor to analyze the situation to say precisely what should have been done.  In any case, when the doctor’s care falls below this standard of care, the doctor can usually be held liable for medical malpractice.  Talk to our Cambridge personal injury lawyers for help with your specific case.

In birth injury cases, especially brain injury cases, there are many ways that something can go wrong.  It is a vital element of your potential case against the doctor that you can prove the doctor’s actions or inaction actually caused the brain injuries.  If the doctor can sway a jury to make them believe that the injuries were unavoidable, it may be more difficult to hold the doctor accountable.

Can Hospitals Be Held Liable for an Infant’s Brain Injuries in Massachusetts?

In some cases, hospitals can also be held accountable for the baby’s injuries.  Many medical malpractice cases will be filed directly against a doctor, but the hospital can be included in the lawsuit under certain circumstances.  The most common way this happens is when the doctor is a hospital employee.  In those cases, the hospital can often be sued for its doctor’s malpractice.

Hospitals can also be held liable for other conditions at the hospital that contributed to the patient’s injuries, but there are fewer ways this type of negligence can come into play in a brain injury case.  However, you should definitely talk to our Boston personal injury lawyers if there were any irregularities at the hospital, such as short staffing, unclean areas, or missing or deficient equipment.

How Brain Injuries During Delivery Can Be a Doctor’s Fault

We’ve discussed the standard of care in general terms, and we’ve stated that a violation of the standard of care can often allow patients to sue their doctor for medical malpractice.  In the context of a brain injury case during childbirth, it is important to understand the common ways that brain injuries happen and how the doctor can be held in violation of their duties to the patient.

Forceps Injuries

Many brain injuries during childbirth are caused by improper or unnecessary use of forceps.  Forceps are large metal tongs used to help pull a baby out of the birth canal, but they should not be used in every case.  Many doctors over-use forceps, clamping down on a baby’s soft head when they don’t need to.  Other times, the forceps are just used improperly.

Instead of clamp-style forceps, some doctors will also use suction or other tools to help extract a baby, which can also cause brain injuries because of the newborn’s fragile skull.

Dropped Babies

Although the idea can be frightening to any parent, babies are sometimes dropped in the delivery room.  It is a doctor’s responsibility to take steps to avoid dropping the baby by using simple tools like a towel to help keep a good grip on the newborn.  When doctors and nurses fail to properly handle the child, they could drop them onto tables or even onto the floor, potentially leaving them with serious head trauma.

Slow Deliveries and Failure to Perform a C-Section

Not every brain injury is caused by trauma; injuries from “hypoxia” or hypoxic-ischemic shock are some of the most common types of brain injuries that newborns suffer.  During pregnancy and delivery, the umbilical cord is the only way that oxygen gets to the baby, and thus the baby’s brain.  If the doctor fails to get the baby out fast enough or order an emergency C-section to get the baby clear, they could be held liable for any brain injuries that result from the lack of oxygen.

If complications are present during childbirth, a doctor may take too long to deliver the baby.  If the baby’s umbilical cord is compressed or wrapped around the neck, the child could be cut off from oxygen.  If this goes on for too long, the baby could be left with brain injuries and permanent disabilities, such as cerebral palsy.

Call Our Massachusetts Birth Injury Attorneys Today

If your child was injured during their birth because of a doctor’s mistakes or carelessness, call our Somerville personal injury lawyers today.  Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan for a free case review by dialing (617) 925-6407.