Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

maternal health of black women

New Legislation Aimed to Save Lives and Reduce Disparities Impacting Mortality in Black Mothers and Black Babies

Women of color, more so non-Hispanic Black mothers, suffer adverse maternal health outcomes at disproportionately high rates, as much as 3 to 4 times those of their white counterparts. In response, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 has been unveiled alongside 12 bills to address the significant health inequities Black mothers are at risk for. While the newly proposed legislation could impact the growing concern for Black women’s health across the U.S., the related challenges are especially problematic in Illinois, where an average of 19 Black women in Chicago dies within 12 months of giving birth, making their deaths nearly six times higher than whites.

According to the U.S. House of Representatives and members of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, The Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act is designed to:

black babies and mortality rates

New Research May Provide Answers to Lessening Mortality Rate in Black Babies

An associate professor and reproductive health equity researcher from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health has released her medical research that examined decades of hospital birth records between 1992 and 2015, looking for clues as to why Black babies have such high mortality rates.

Rachel Hardeman discovered that Black newborns are three times as likely to die as White newborns when Black babies weren’t cared for by Black doctors after birth. The doctors were primarily pediatricians, neonatologists, and family practitioners. When cared for by Black doctors, a Black baby’s mortality rate was cut in half. According to the research article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) on September 1, 2020:

usa has highest maternal death rate

Latest CDC Data Shows U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate Highest Among Comparable Countries

A recent analysis of the latest issue brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that most maternal deaths are preventable but continue to be increasing in the United States compared to 10 high-income countries. The data is being used to identify differences in maternal care workforces, access to postpartum care and midwife services, and paid maternity leave policies among the countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Other key findings alarming to U.S. women included:

wrongful death of newly born infant

Understanding Infant Wrongful Death

Even medical professionals can cause tragic labor and delivery mistakes that result in life-long injuries, stillborn, or a circumstance so dire that a newborn death is a result. It is possible that medical staff, including obstetric physicians, pediatricians, nurses, medical assistants, did not do all they could to keep the fetus or newborn safe. It’s likely injuries or infant death could have been prevented with diligent medical care.

For example:

congenital syphilis and birth injuries

What is Congenital Syphilis?

Syphilis is a chronic bacterial infection spread through sexual contact and sexual intercourse, making it a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Congenital syphilis (CS) is a disease that occurs when a mother with syphilis passes the infection on to her baby during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CS can affect a child’s health, depending on when a mother was adequately diagnosed and received treatment for the infection. Without a diagnosis or the proper treatment, a baby can be lost through miscarriage or stillbirth, but also be born premature, with a low birth rate and have a small chance for survival after birth due to infection.

The CDC says for babies born with CS, many will have health conditions and severe serious health problems such as:

mom's rights and birth injury prevention

New Illinois Law Says Every Woman Has Safe Pregnancy and Childbirth Rights

New data published on January 30, 2020, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System, shows that the U.S. maternal mortality rate was 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live birth in 2018. And an average of 19 women will die within 12 months of pregnancy in the Chicago-area, according to a 2019 report by the Chicago Department of Public Health.

On January 1, 2020, an Illinois law took effect which amends the Medical Patient Rights Act to delineate 21 rights of women during pregnancy and childbirth through Pregnancy and Childbirth Rights (HB 2).

wrongful death c-section

Mom Dies After Routine Caesarean Section, and Dad Sues Cedars-Sinai

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles is facing national backlash after a woman internally bled to death after giving birth to her baby boy. The woman’s husband is now suing the hospital and pushing for policy changes and raising awareness of the U.S. maternal mortality crisis and birth-related injuries to mom and baby. The U.S. has remained the only developed country with a rising death rate for pregnant or new mothers for more than a decade.

The woman’s husband, Charles Johnson, says doctors told them the birth would be a routine Caesarean section, but soon after, he started noticing worrisome issues. According to a February 18, 2020 news interview between Johnson and CNN:

Illinois residents are mourning the deaths of four children who tragically lost their lives in three separate drowning incidents, all over the course of a single weekend. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, a 3-year-old boy drown in the pool of a family member. Additionally, a 4-year-old child lost his life in a country club pool and two brothers, ages 8 and 9, drowned inside of an excavated pit filled with water. These overwhelming tragedies are placing a spotlight on the importance of pool safety, especially among vulnerable children.

According to the Chicago Tribune article, the 3-year-old victim was attending a family function at the time of the drowning. Though he was initially wearing arm flotations in the pool, he removed them while eating. They were reportedly never put back on him before he returned to the pool. His father, who was nearby talking to other adults, reported that he was “all of a sudden” out of sight. The child was pronounced dead at a nearby emergency room.
Continue reading ›

Medical advances are being made every day which provide a better understanding of how and why birth injuries arise, what causes them, and how to prevent them. It is important for our Illinois birth injury attorneys to keep abreast of these advances, because they guide the legal issues involved in some of our cases. Birth injuries are based upon negligence and negligence is based upon reasonable conduct in the circumstances. What constitutes reasonable or unreasonable conduct in medical actions depends on what is known by medical professionals at the time. The more advances that are made, the more than practitioners have to incorporate those advances to improve the medical care they provide.

However, as many families whose loved ones have experienced birth injuries will tell you, we have a long way to go before we have a complete understanding of the development process. That is even before we understand enough to be able to come up with preventative strategies that stop a birth injury or defect from arising in the first place.

For example, a Wall Street Journal article this week discussed the many mysteries that still surround stillbirths. Stillbirths are defined as any fetal death that occurs after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Every year there are as many stillbirths as there are infant deaths. All told researchers suggest that one out of every one hundred and twenty births in the United States each year are stillbirths. A new article in the Journal of the American Medical Association discusses the latest advances in understanding how these deaths occur and why.

A jury recently awarded $2.5 million to a grieving couple who lost their baby in a birth injury caused by doctors’ negligence.

The couple sued various obstetricians and gynecologists as well the practice where the expecting mother was treated. While obstetricians specialize in the management of pregnancy and labor, gynecologists specialize in the female reproductive system. Together, “ob/gyns” are trained to diagnosis and treat disorders and diseases in this field.

According to court documents, doctors discovered a complication during the mother’s pregnancy. Lab results revealed that the unborn baby had O-positive blood whereas the mother had Rh-negative blood. When this combination of blood types occurs, the baby’s O-positive blood is treated by the mother’s body as an intruder and the mother’s Rh-negative blood produces antibodies to fight the invading O-positive blood. The mother’s antibodies start to break down the fetus’s red blood cells. This condition is called hemolytic disease or hemolytic anemia. It can become severe enough to cause serious illness, brain damage, or even death in the fetus or newborn.

According to the lawsuit, doctors failed to properly monitor and treat the mother and her baby after the complication was revealed. The unborn baby developed immune hydrops fetalis, a complication of Rh incompatibility. Although a cesarean section delivery was preformed, the baby did not survive. In addition, the mother will unlikely be able to deliver another viable fetus, according to the complaint.

The jury not only awarded the parents $2 million in compensatory damages but the jury also determined that the doctors should pay $500,000 in punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct. They are usually awarded when the jury determines that the defendants acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Although punitive damages are not intended to compensate the plaintiff, the plaintiff usually receives the entire punitive damage award.

To learn more about this lawsuit and other birth injuries that went to trial, follow the links.
Continue reading ›

Lawyer Monthly - Legal Awards Winner
The National Trial Lawyers
Elder Care Matters Alliance
American Association for Justice
Fellow Litigation Counsel of America
Super Lawyers
Contact Information