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Medical Malpractice

Prenatal Care and Birth Injuries

November 16, 2023

Many birth injuries occur due to issues that arise or mistakes that are made during delivery. For example, the infant can suffer shoulder or spinal injuries as a result of using too much force during delivery, or they may suffer brain damage because medical staff failed to adequately monitor the baby’s vital signs. In addition to complications that occur during delivery, many birth injuries are caused by a failure to provide adequate prenatal care. If your child has suffered a birth injury, an experienced birth injury attorney can review your case and determine whether you may have a medical malpractice claim. 

Inadequate Prenatal Care

Prenatal care is focused on monitoring the development of the unborn child and the health of the mother. Through a series of periodic visits during the pregnancy, a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider will conduct various examinations to ensure that the child is developing normally and that the mother is not developing any health conditions that could endanger the child or give rise to complications during delivery. 

While there is a range of what would be considered adequate prenatal care, that does not there is no standard. On the contrary, adequate care is determined by factors such as the age and health of the mother, where there are any obvious risk factors, and how far along the mother is in the pregnancy. These circumstances are then considered against what a doctor with the same education, training, and experience would have done in the same situation. Some instances that may indicate you received inadequate prenatal care could include the following: 

  • Cancelation of appointments and failure to reschedule Fails to order tests 
  • Failure to conduct an ultrasound
  • Failure to conduct thorough medical exams
  • Failure to review your medical records or take a thorough history
  • Failure to prescribe prenatal vitamins

Failure to provide adequate prenatal care can give rise to a medical malpractice claim. If your child suffered a birth injury or has other health issues, the cause may be inadequate prenatal care. 

Failure to Diagnose

Closely related to inadequate prenatal care, another common source of prenatal malpractice is the failure to diagnose medical conditions or recognize risk factors that could lead to a difficult delivery. If your child suffered a birth injury or other health condition because your provider failed to make a proper diagnosis, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim for damages. Some of the common misdiagnoses that give rise to medical malpractice claims include the following: 

  • Maternal infections. Because their immune systems are weakened during pregnancy, mothers face an increased risk of infection. These infections, if not diagnosed and properly treated, can result in brain injuries to the unborn child. Infections of the amniotic fluid and fetal tissues can be especially dangerous. 
  • Fetal macrosomia (an unusually large baby). Large babies can be difficult to deliver and a c-section may be required in order to avoid injury. If the doctor fails to recognize that the baby may be too big to deliver safely, they may miss the chance to schedule a c-section and cause injury to the child during vaginal delivery.  
  • Gestational diabetes. Screening for diabetes during pregnancy is a routine part of prenatal care. Failure to diagnose gestational diabetes can result in several complications during childbirth that can lead to injury. 
  • Placental abruption. This is when the placenta prematurely separates from the fetus. Failure to diagnose and treat a placental abruption can deprive the baby of oxygen and result in brain damage or death. 
  • Preeclampsia. This is when the mother suddenly develops high blood pressure during pregnancy. If left untreated, it can lead to oxygen deprivation and brain damage for the baby. 
  • Abnormal presentation (breech). If the baby does not turn prior to birth, a breech delivery can lead to numerous complications that can result in harm.

Medical malpractice claims involving a failure to diagnose can be difficult to prove. A birth injury attorney can review your case and determine whether you should pursue a claim for damages. 

Can My Midwife Be Held Liable? 

 Many midwives will provide care during pregnancy and assist with delivery. Just because you did not receive traditional medical care during your pregnancy or delivery does not mean that you do not have a claim. The short answer to this question is that you may be able to hold your midwife liable for harm to your child if they failed to provide adequate care. 

Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney at Ragain & Clark Today

Ragain & Clark has been helping medical malpractice victims in Wyoming and Montana for over 30 years. Call us today at 307-388-6400 (Worland) or 406-651-8888 (Billings) to schedule a free consultation if your child has suffered a birth injury.


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