A soon-to-be-mother thinks about what the birth of her child will be like throughout her entire pregnancy. No matter how many stories she hears or videos she watches, she knows it’s one of those things that you have to experience to really know how it’s going to work. Babies just aren’t predictable. Still, she knows the basics: she’ll go into labor, rush to the hospital or birthing center, go through delivery, and her baby will be gently caught, cleaned up and placed into her loving arms.
For some babies, that gentle catch isn’t part of their grand entrance into life. Babies are sometimes dropped immediately upon that final push because doctors just aren’t prepared, and just like that your newborn is hurt. The shock of what’s happened probably hasn’t even worn off yet, but your child deserves a fair start, and being injured during birth just isn’t what you ever imagined. Suddenly you’re staring across the table at a medical malpractice attorney instead of rocking your baby to sleep.
The standard of care has to be followed
Delivery rooms can become chaotic at times. That’s par for the course and obstetricians and labor and delivery nurses know the drill. It also doesn’t absolve them from upholding the proper medical standard of care. When that standard has been diminished, careless mistakes are made.
An obstetrician or labor and delivery nurse is negligent if he or she fails to use the level of skill, knowledge, and care in diagnosis and treatment that others of the profession commonly possess and exercise in the same or similar circumstances. For example, if most obstetricians in the community wear a particular style of glove to prevent a baby from slipping and falling while being caught, and a doctor who drops a baby wore another glove style, he or she deviated from the standard of care.
Even when you are devastated that your baby has been carelessly dropped, four elements still must be satisfied to have a case for medical malpractice:
- There must have been a duty owed to the patient
- That duty must have been breached
- The breach of duty must lead to injury
- The injured party must sustain damages as a result of the injury
Damage that can result from dropping a newborn
Newborns are dropped in hospitals during delivery much more than is reported. It happens all over the world. The United States is fairly quiet as to actual statistics, but reports from the United Kingdom show there’s a drop rate of 50 babies per day during delivery.
Injuries that a newborn may experience as a result of being dropped include:
- Brain injury
- Brain bleeding
- Broken bones, including skull fractures
- Abdominal injuries
- Wrongful death
Some of these birth injuries may have short-term health effects that resolve themselves over time while others can last a life time requiring expensive, constant care for your child.
Real life examples of the consequences of dropping a newborn
In May of this year, an Arizona couple became parents to twin girls. The birth was “normal” with one exception. The doctor who delivered the babies dropped one of them, causing her to bounce onto the delivery table. His grip slipped and the child’s father caught it on video. When he approached the doctor about the incident, the doctor claimed the couple’s baby wasn’t actually dropped – until the man played the video. The doctor had nothing more to say, yet the couple’s baby was determined to have a small brain bleed and she has experienced shaking, for which they haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause.
The brain bleed was discovered when an ultrasound was performed on the newborn one week after delivery. The couple was not given the opportunity to provide informed consent to the procedure because they were not made aware of the test for more than six weeks after her birth. This gives the appearance that the hospital was quietly monitoring the child’s health due to the negligence of dropping her during delivery.
A horrific and tragic instance of a baby being dropped occurred in Argentina earlier this month. The mother experienced a quick birth where her baby exited the birth canal so quickly that both the obstetrician and midwife were caught off guard failing to catch him. The baby fell to the ground hitting his head and died. Quick births happen all over the world, and in countries like the United States where constant training and improving on procedures is standard practice, doctors should never be unprepared.
New parents should be enjoying their new roles in life rather than dealing with tragic consequences from the carelessness of medical professionals. Newborns are fragile beings who require the ultimate protection during their delivery. It’s time for the medical field to reassess childbirth delivery procedures to ensure that there will be no future risk of fall.