Can a Premature Birth Be Considered Medical Malpractice?

Published on October 10th, 2018

premature birth medical malpracticePremature birth is the top cause of infant death and illness. According to a survey conducted by the Miracle Babies Foundation, 68 percent of the parents polled did not know they were at risk for a premature birth until they went into preterm labor. The same survey found that 53 percent of participants never discussed preterm birth with their healthcare provider. If a child is born prematurely and there could have been something done to stop the early labor and delivery, it could be a case of medical malpractice.

Complications of a Premature Birth

A baby that is delivered prematurely is quickly ushered to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) where they will be kept and carefully monitored, sometimes for weeks or months. This time under 24-hour care is when the infant works to complete his or her development. The bodily functions and organs that should have grown in the womb should now mature in an environmentally conditioned incubator.

Sadly, some babies do not thrive, even in this controlled environment. Preemie babies are at a greater immediate and long-term risk of:

  • Respiratory problems.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Hearing problems.
  • Vision problems.
  • Neurological defects.
  • Seizures.
  • Cerebral palsy.
  • Bleeding in the brain.
  • Fluid accumulation in the brain.
  • Developmental delays.

Parents Should Have the Opportunity to Prepare for Premature Birth

Expectant parents have a lot to learn, and they are no doubt focusing on the joyous day when their child is born. Everything changes, however, when a mother goes into preterm labor and a baby is delivered sooner than expected. Even if a pregnancy is healthy and without complications, 50 percent of preterm births are to women who are without risk factors. This doesn’t mean, however, that a doctor should not discuss the possibility of a preterm birth as an essential element of prenatal care.

It is also the responsibility of an obgyn to monitor an expectant mother for signs of an incompetent cervix, placenta problems, pregnancy infections, weight issues, and take into consideration pre-existing conditions. There may be interventions that can help a woman carry her baby to term, or at least as long as possible.

Women who are at a higher risk of premature birth include those who have had prior preterm births, miscarriage, IVF, or a family history of premature birth. A woman’s lifestyle and own health also contribute to a higher or lower risk and should allow a healthcare provider to adjust her individual prenatal treatment to help prevent premature birth.

Why Premature Birth Can Be Considered a Birth Injury

Birth injuries include not just harm that comes to a baby in labor and delivery, but also preventable injuries to infants and mothers, including premature birth. In many cases, preterm labor could have been prevented with more careful prenatal care.

A baby born before the 37th week of pregnancy is considered premature. Babies born between 23 and 26 weeks can survive, but their risk of developing complications is severe. Any baby born before 32 weeks has a higher rate of disability and death.

These statistics are terrifying, but knowing that a child is likely to be born prematurely allows parents to mentally and financially prepare for the situation, and enables doctors to be ready with emergency treatment when the baby is delivered.

If your baby was born prematurely and you believe this could have been prevented, or if your preemie suffered preventable complications or emergencies in the NICU, your doctor and other healthcare providers could be responsible. Talk to a Michigan birth injury and medical malpractice lawyer to find out how you can get compensation for your medical bills and suffering. Contact Thurswell Law for a free consultation with one of our experienced, knowledgeable, and successful attorneys. We do not charge any fees unless you collect. Call (248) 354-2222 today.

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