Do you believe that you or your loved one may have gone into premature labor due to medical malpractice? While premature labor can occur naturally, there are a variety of ways that it can also be caused. Medical malpractice could include the prescription of harmful medications, negligent medical care, or medical neglect such as ignoring or failing to acknowledge potentially dangerous symptoms.
Medical Malpractice for Premature Labor
Doctors aren’t infallible and mistakes can be made. That being said, doctors do need to offer a specific standard of care. In particular, doctors should be able to notice signs that premature labor may occur and should take any symptoms that a patient reveals seriously. Doctors may be considered to be responsible for premature labor if they:
- Gave out prescriptions that are known to cause labor complications, without the knowledge of the patient. There may be certain situations in which a pregnant patient has to take medications that could cause premature labor, but in this situation the patient should be thoroughly educated regarding the risks. Steroids, in particular, are often prescribed but can lead to early labor if taken while pregnant.
- Ignored symptoms the patient mentioned. For instance, a doctor might dismiss labor pains as “false labor” rather than reacting to them. Not only would this mean that the labor was not properly identified, but it would also mean a delay in the management of the labor. Doctors should take any symptoms discussed by a patient seriously.
- Failed to recognize clear signs of premature labor. Doctors are expected to be able to identify obvious signs of an illness and risk factors associated with a pregnancy. If a doctor reasonably should have been able to identify premature labor in an individual then they may be considered negligent for not doing so.
- Not properly educating a patient. Though this may be more difficult to prove, doctors may also be considered to be negligent if they did not disclose risks to a patient. For instance, a patient might not have been made aware that a medical issue that they have could potentially lead to premature labor. Not being educated regarding this risks could lead to the patient not taking symptoms as seriously as they should.
- Directly causing injury to the patient. A doctor could potentially cause premature labor directly by introducing the patent to an infection or causing enough stress to the patient that premature labor is triggered. In a hospital setting, there are numerous infections that could cause labor complications, but a doctor is expected to protect their patient from these potential illnesses.
- Failing to properly treat the premature labor. Finally, a doctor could potentially be found responsible for premature labor and guilty of medical malpractice if they did not properly treat the premature labor when it occurred. There are methods of stopping labor when it has begun. These methods are not foolproof, but a doctor that does not attempt these measures at all may be considered to be negligent. Of course, there are some mitigating factors, such as if the patient themselves declined the treatments.
Compensation for Premature Labor Caused by Medical Malpractice
Premature labor can have a multitude of costs associated, both emotionally and medically. These costs can be extraordinarily high, especially for new parents. Individuals who experienced premature labor may be able to expect:
- Increased medical bills associated with the birthing. A premature labor is generally more complicated and may require that the infant stay in critical care for some time.
- Additional medical bills throughout the life of a child. A child born prematurely may have increased medical bills through their early childhood or even throughout their lifetime, depending on how premature the birth was.
- Wrongful death. Unfortunately, premature labor can also lead to the death of a child. In this situation, a wrongful death suit may need to be pursued.
If you’ve experienced premature labor and would like to pursue a medical malpractice suit, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will be able to review your case and your documentation to determine whether you have a suit and how you can receive compensation for your medical bills and your family’s suffering.