The Difference Between a Birth Defect and Birth Injury
Parents and other family members of children who are the victims of preventable injuries at birth due to substandard care provided by medical personnel during pregnancy, labor, or delivery have the option to pursue legal action. Cases that involve birth injury often involve an allegation that medical staff fell short in their obligation to deliver suitable care, resulting in short or long term health consequences to the baby.
Although medical errors can lead to these consequences, there are also birth defects or disabilities that may be present with the child even when a high standard of care is provided. Understanding the difference between birth injuries and birth defects can help determine whether grounds exist to pursue damages in a birth injury case.
Defining birth injuries and birth defects
Each year in the U.S.:
- 6 to 8 infants out of every 1000 are born with a birth injury, according to statistics provided by Birthinjury.org.
- 1 in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data.
The nature and cause of a baby’s injury or disability can determine whether a family has a viable claim to recover compensation.
Cases involving birth injuries arise in situations in which babies are harmed due to the negligence of medical personnel, whether nurses, doctors, or other practitioners. Negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to deliver a commonly accepted standard of care or the type of care to be expected from a skilled and reasonable professional under the same or similar circumstances. Liability may rest upon medical personnel when a baby is injured due to their failure to properly assess or take action arising from conditions or complications during pregnancy or delivery. This can involve carelessness or negligence in treating or otherwise administering procedures to an infant.
Many birth defects already exist in the womb prior to birth and then develop or manifest at birth or as the baby grows. These defects can affect various parts of the baby’s body, including the nervous system and brain. Genetic mutations are one cause of birth defects. However, they can also result in the baby’s exposure to certain medications, drugs, or toxins. In some of these cases, medical personnel may be held liable for defects cause by improperly administering these substances to the mother or child.
Determining substandard care
An investigation is required to determine whether a birth injury was caused by the failure of medical personnel to provide appropriate care. Medical staff treating a pregnant mother and overseeing the birth of her child may provide substandard care that equates to medical negligence in various ways, including:
- Medication errors
- Failure or delay to administer emergency C-section
- Failure to monitor or respond to distress signals from the unborn child
- Administering dangerous drugs
- Failure to detect and treat serious medical conditions
- Toxic exposure
- Improper or unsafe use of medical devices such as forceps and vacuum extractors
If the injuries your child has suffered before or at the time of birth are due to negligence, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your losses, which may include past and future medical costs, lost income, and emotional injuries. Negligence may be caused by medical professionals providing substandard care or pharmaceutical companies dispensing unsafe medications for pregnant women or the general public. Considerable economic and noneconomic damages accrue to families in these situations due to the fact that birth injuries can have long-lasting effects on the child in terms of disabilities and other limitations.
Birth injury cases involve high stakes. The legal challenge can be immense as your attorney seeks to highlight the negligence that caused the injury to your child. A successful case requires help from an attorney who can coordinate the necessary testimony from medical experts along with other witnesses to prove your case. Complications can arise when insurance companies and healthcare providers seek to pay as little as possible on any potential claim for compensation. An experienced medical malpractice attorney with the right professional connections, resources, and other skills can even the playing field and ensure you receive the justice and compensation to which you are entitled for the injuries suffered by your child.
Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling 202-463-1999.
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For more than 40 years, Barry J. Nace has worked to protect the rights of victims of medical malpractice and other personal injuries. Throughout his career, he has proven that multimillion-dollar awards are not a matter of luck, but the result of experience, hard work, outstanding trial skills, and an unquestioned dedication to justice. To date, Mr. Nace has produced dozens of verdicts and settlements in excess of $1 million with three in excess of $30 million. Read more about Barry J. Nace.
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