A doctor's primary objective is to protect the well-being of his or her patients. Doctors are human though, and human error is sometimes inevitable. When medical professionals make an error during childbirth, the result can be severe injury to a child. A severe birth injury can mean the child will need special medical care and treatment for the rest of his or her life.
Because the costs of these injuries can be so enormous, it's important for families to get compensation when they can. However, it's also important to note that lawsuits based on a birth injury claim can be highly technical and complex.
One recent case involved a birth injury at a military hospital. The mother, a captain in the Air Force, was scheduled to deliver the baby through cesarean section. Sometime before the procedure, she was given Zantac, a medication often used to treat gastrointestinal issues. However, the patient was allergic to Zantac, so medical staff gave her a second drug to address the allergy. The drugs caused her blood pressure to drop, which did not permanently affect her, but led to a lack of oxygen and catastrophic injuries to her newborn child.
The baby, unmonitored by the hospital staff, was deprived of oxygen and suffered brain damage and disabilities, including cerebral palsy. These injuries will likely require round-the-clock care and lifetime of supervision for the child.
Unfortunately, when the child's parents tried to sue the federal government over the birth injury, they found their suit blocked. A district court dismissed the case, citing a rule that prohibits military personnel from suing the government based on injuries they suffered while on active duty. The child's father appealed, but a federal appeals court upheld the dismissal. In their written opinion, even the judges acknowledged that the result seemed grossly unfair.
This case is unusual in many ways, but it helps to highlight the complexity of birth injury claims. Families who have been affected by birth injury can benefit from talking about their circumstances with attorneys who have experience with these emotionally and technically difficult cases.
Source: .Military Times, "Birth injury lawsuit revives Feres debate" Patricia Kime, May 28, 2015