Birth injuries have a myriad of causes, some preventable, many unpreventable. The legal consequences of these injuries are obviously linked to whether or not something could have been done which would have prevented the harm from arising. If something could have been done, it does not automatically mean that there is legal liability and that a birth injury lawsuit should be filed. Instead, in most cases a reasonableness inquiry need be conducted. In other words, did an individual or legal entity (business, hospital, etc.) act in a way contrary to what a reasonable individual or entity would have done in similar circumstances. If so, then legal liability attaches.
The reasonableness analysis is at the heart of most personal injury cases. It is an objective standard in that it is not based on what the specific individual involved thought was reasonable. For example, even if a doctor believes he is acting appropriately, he or she may still be found to have been negligent if a “reasonably prudent” doctor in similar circumstances would not have though those actions appropriate. In other words, what is going on inside the head of the actual individual involved in not all that relevant.
However, this is not to say that the objective standard of reasonableness does not change. This is especially true in the medical context. Community standards and knowledge factor into what makes something reasonable or not reasonable to the ordinary member of the profession. In particular, as more information is obtained about the safety of a procedure or efficacy of a drug, the practice of doctor must change. Failure to adapt to change in knowledge means that conduct that formerly was reasonable will no longer be so under the law.
A new story from PR Web this week explores an ongoing issue of failure to adapt to changing knowledge which may lead to more birth injury lawsuits. Zoloft is an antidepressant that has become one of the most popular drugs in the world since its 1991 release. Its common use has resulted in billions of dollars in profits for its maker, Pfizer. At first, medical professionals had no idea that the drug may be harmful to child development when taken by pregnant patients. However, in recent years there have been many warnings about the harm that can result. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with many of the most respected medical research publications have issued warnings about Zoloft use for expectant mothers.
Unfortunately, despite these concerns, many who may be harmed by Zoloft use continue to take the drug. While the prescription may not have been unreasonable at the very beginning of the drug’s use, that changed as risk factors were identified. Those who made the product and prescribed it likely distributed the drug even while knowing that risk. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers know that this conduct may have violated the civil law. As a result, all those families who had a child born with a birth defect which may have been caused by the drug use should visit with a legal professional to learn what legal options may be available to them.
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