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Parents look for answers following birth injury

An injury at birth can be a tragic experience for the parents of the child, as well as for the child's future. Such an injury can occur in a variety of ways, perhaps through complications in the labor and delivery process, or due to improper prenatal medical care that could be the result of the negligence of a medical professional. As Maryland families certainly know, the birth of a child is a joyous and wonderful occasion, but that joy can be shattered when a birth injury occurs due to the negligence of doctors and nurses.

For one family that waited through nine rounds of fertility treatment, the joy of having their first children (the mother finally got pregnant with twin girls) was incredible. However, shortly after pregnancy, the 28-year-old mother developed a complication that required months of bed rest. It was nearly three months before her due date when her uterus began bleeding heavily. She was rushed to the hospital and forced to have an emergency caesarean section.

The babies seemed to be doing well at the hospital, but at the end of their first week, the mother noticed that one of them looked pale and spotty. She was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis, an internal complication that affects premature babies and one which the doctors had missed. Tragically, her condition failed to improve and within a few days she died.

The grieving parents sought answers to explain what had happened to their child, and why no one had noticed the condition until it was too late. When the doctors, nurses, and hospital were unable to provide an explanation, the parents sought legal help.

In general, to find a medical professional legally at fault, it must be shown that his or her conduct fell below a generally accepted standard of medical care. A jury eventually decided that one doctor and one nurse practitioner were negligent in this case and awarded the family $7.5 million for their pain and suffering. Maryland families dealing with birth injury cases should keep this in mind as they review their rights and options.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Medical malpractice: Why is it so hard for doctors to apologize?" Jan. 27, 2013

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