Every action taken during a pregnancy may impact the health of a mother and her child. For this reason, expectant mothers trust their medical professionals to monitor their pregnancy each visit and provide guidance and treatment. The assumption is that medical professionals will always act in your best interest — however, this may not always be the case. Expectant mothers should remain hypervigilant throughout their pregnancy to ensure they are receiving proper care and limit the risk of birth injuries resulting from negligent pregnancy care.
Understanding the Prenatal Standard of Care
The first step to spotting negligent prenatal care is understanding the standard of care. The prenatal standard of care differs widely by circumstance. Typically, the standard of care is dependent on the standard practices of a specific role. For example, an OBGYN would have a different set of expectations compared to a nurse. They are both generally expected to provide safe and adequate care, but the details of their job differ.
Generally, we would define the prenatal standard of care as the degree of learning ordinarily applied by a physician or health care provider in the same or similar circumstance. There is an expectation that prenatal care providers will help you identify, diagnose and treat problems as they arise. In our experience with negligent pregnancy care, we have often seen circumstances in which doctors disregard what a mother says and neglect to recognize or act on potentially dangerous issues in a pregnancy. Doctors should always be concerned if their patient reports unusual bleeding, cramping, pain or contractions. While these symptoms do not always mean that something is wrong, they are conditions that we expect doctors to look into — otherwise, they may be liable for damages later on.
Identifying Common Healthcare Errors
It is important to remember that the action or inaction of a medical professional has to result in harm to the mother, child or both. For a viable case, your experience must fulfill the elements of a medical malpractice case, including:
- A violation of the standard of care
- An injury resulting from negligence
- An injury resulting in significant damages
More often than not, negligent pregnancy care is a violation that leads to an injury down the line. One example is a patient who complains of bleeding and cramping, yet the healthcare provider does not perform a cervical check to see if they are in early labor. This healthcare error can lead to preterm delivery when medical intervention could have prolonged labor. As personal injury attorneys, we have seen improper prenatal care result in delivery as early as 24 weeks. Preterm delivery may come with chronic health issues for the child, including problems with major organs, asthma and feeding issues.
Another display of negligent pregnancy care would be failing to conduct proper testing throughout the pregnancy. One such test would be ultrasounds at the recommended intervals. These images provide valuable information for diagnosing and directing treatment for a variety of diseases and conditions. Otherwise, doctors are expected to use regular check ups to monitor blood pressure, check weight, test urine for protein and glucose and monitor the fetal heart rate and movement. Without these tests and samples, the mother or child may experience irreversible damage due to an unrecognized problem.
Protecting Yourself from Negligent Pregnancy Care
As you receive prenatal care, remember that you are your biggest advocate. You understand your body in ways that a doctor or partner may not. It is always better to be safe rather than sorry — never be afraid to ask questions or complain about issues you have experienced. If you cannot be your own patient advocate, we recommend having someone else in the room to act as your advocate. Listen to your body and if necessary, always get a second opinion.
Obtaining a lawyer may also provide you with additional protection moving forward. People typically seek legal counsel from Casey, Devoti & Brockland after delivery, as this is when it becomes apparent that an injury occurred. However, if you suspect that you or your child were injured as a result of negligent pregnancy care, contact a personal injury attorney who is well-versed in birth injuries or medical malpractice. We recommend that you save all media involved with your pregnancy and birth, including all forms of communications with your doctor and photos and videos of the birth. Apart from this, we can take your case from here — we will step into your shoes and get authorization as your attorney to collect evidence on your behalf.
Explore Negligent Pregnancy Care
When you feel that your healthcare provider has failed you, you deserve a team of personal injury attorneys you can trust to provide accurate information and an appropriate course of action. For more information on birth injuries and negligent pregnancy care, visit Casey, Devoti & Brockland’s medical malpractice blog.