Is the hospital at fault for the birth injury? This is a question that can cause a lot of confusion among parents who contact us. For them, their baby has suffered a birth injury (usually a brain injury) and the question for them centers around is the hospital at fault for the birth injury. They know that the doctors are “people” and can be sued, but what about this “entity,” which is the hospital?
Before going deep into this discussion, if you are reading this article and you are not in Maryland, be sure to speak with an attorney in your jurisdiction regarding this issue, as it can possibly be state specific.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN DURING DELIVERY?
To understand this theory of liability, you need to see the facts as the basis for liability. Many of the families who contact us tell us a similar story. The story involves a mother who has a pretty uneventful pregnancy. She presents to the hospital with no real issues for her or the baby.
During labor and delivery, the family is assisted by doctors and nurses who are in the hospital. The doctors and nurses manage a device in the delivery room called the electronic fetal heart monitor, which displays certain readings about the baby’s well-being.
Where things can be problematic is when the monitor is showing that the baby is in fetal distress and doctors fail to diagnose the fetal distress. Failure to diagnose the fetal distress can lead to a brain injury for the baby. Many times, the problem is that the baby will suffer from a lack of blood and oxygen, which leads to a brain injury. Parents can be on the lookout for a condition called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE. HIE is a reduced level of blood and oxygen which leads to a brain injury.
IS THE HOSPITAL AT FAULT FOR THE BRAIN INJURY?
With the above stated, is the hospital at fault for the birth injury? The answer is that in some cases, yes, the hospital will also be responsible for the injury. A legal concept called respondeat superior is how a hospital can be held vicariously liable. Under respondeat superior, the employer will answer for the negligent acts of the employee. There are certain elements which must be met, but generally, as long as the employee is acting within the scope of employment, and is negligent, then the employer will be responsible.
What happens in a lot of these cases is that the labor and delivery nurse is an employee of the hospital. If the nurse is negligent in reading the strips, and this negligence is the cause of the baby’s birth injury, then a strong argument will be made that not only is the nurse responsible for the injury, but also the hospital. The same reasoning will apply to the doctor if the doctor is also an employee, and the doctor’s negligence is what causes the baby’s injury.
These issues must be closely analyzed because who is an employee can be tricky at times. Your attorney will review the facts closely and interview you accordingly. The questions and answers will provide good insight to the elements needed to prove this legal theory.
WAS THE HOSPITAL ALSO AT FAULT FOR YOUR BABY’S BRAIN INJURY?
If you have more questions regarding whether the hospital is also responsible for your baby’s birth injury, give me a call. Not only can we discuss is the hospital at fault for the birth injury, but what remedies may be available to help your child meet their future challenges.
I can be reached at 301-850-4832. I talk with families all the time about birth trauma related injuries and I would be happy to listen to your story.
Marcus B. Boston, Esq.
2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
1-833-4 BABY HELP