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Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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.
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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.
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According to Westlaw News, a pending lawsuit on the west coast claims that hospital doctors intentionally delayed delivery of a baby after they confirmed that the baby would be born with substantial brain injuries. This birth injury lawsuit continues to allege that the hospital doctors delayed delivery in order to increase the likelihood that the baby would not survive delivery.

The unborn baby’s mother is alleging that doctors knew that her unborn baby needed to be delivered immediately and that failure to do so would result in traumatic brain damaged.

She further states that once the doctors determined that the unborn baby had in fact suffered severe brain damage, the doctors purposefully took actions to end the unborn baby’s life in order to save the hospital and the doctors from legal and financial responsibility.

Unfortunately, this pending birth injury lawsuit is not the only case where unborn babies have been affected by a doctor’s negligence. As covered in this blog recently, in one birth injury lawsuit, a newborn baby suffered from fetal hypoxia when doctors failed to order an emergency Cesarean section. In another case, a birth injury lawyer represented the family of a newborn who suffered a brain injury from severe lack of oxygen during delivery. You can read more about these incidents below.
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A mother in Harris County, Texas has filed suit against the medical center that was caring for her pregnant daughter. In the lawsuit, the mother alleges that her daughter and her unborn grandbaby died as a result of the medical center’s negligence.

The pregnant woman was first sent to the medical center when she was about 37 weeks pregnant. Her Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN) recommended that she go to the medical center because her blood pressure was high. The pregnant woman was soon discharged even though her blood pressure remained high.

A few days later, the pregnant woman returned to the medical center. This time, the pregnant woman was complaining of shortness of breath. She was immediately sent to the emergency room but she remained there for almost three hours without treatment. While she waited in the emergency room, she suffered a life ending cardiac arrest. Although doctors did remove the baby by cesarean-section, the baby did not survive. The baby had suffered from severe lack of oxygen before birth.

It was later discovered that the pregnant woman’s cardio-respiratory arrest was caused by pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). The lawsuit filed against the medical center further alleges that the emergency room physician failed to properly diagnosis the pregnant woman for this condition.

To read more about this story, please visit the Houston Chronicle.

Although the exact cause of pregnancy-induced hypertension is unknown, there are several risk factors. According to the American Pregnancy Association, first-time mothers, women carrying multiple babies, teenage mothers, and women who have high blood pressure prior to pregnancy are most at risk.
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On July 5, 2005, a child suffered a serious birth injury. The birth injury was a result of a vacuum extraction performed by the doctor. The doctor did not inform the parents of the risk of this procedure and the doctor’s negligent act has led to a jury award of $1.85 million dollars. The child did not survive the birth injury. To read more about birth injury settlements, click here.

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