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Premature Births: Can They Be Considered Medical Malpractice?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

A typical full-term pregnancy lasts from 39 to 40 weeks. However, some babies can survive outside the womb as early as 24 weeks. There are some inexplicable and natural reasons a baby may be born prematurely. However, preterm labor and delivery result from a doctor’s negligence in some cases. If a doctor or other medical provider is responsible for preterm delivery, the family might be able to sue the negligent doctor or hospital.

Since 1860 the lawyers at Batson Nolan PLC have provided exceptional legal services to injury victims in Tennessee, Kentucky, and beyond. We understand the devastating toll and lifelong injuries a premature baby can endure. Our attorneys help hold negligent doctors and medical providers accountable and help families recover compensation for their damages.

It is essential that victims contact an attorney as soon as possible to avoid missing the statute of limitations. An attorney can help victims understand their rights and remedies after they experience medical malpractice.

Causes of Premature Birth

There are many reasons a baby may be born prematurely. Experts identify various factors that may place a mother or baby at risk for premature birth. Some of these reasons may be unrelated to a doctor’s negligence, such as:

  • A history of premature births,
  • Cervix anomalies or uterine difficulties,
  • Multiple babies in the womb,
  • A mother’s blood clotting issues, and
  • Genital infections or bacterial vaginosis.

While many of these reasons stem from a biological issue, proper medical treatment can mitigate the effect of these conditions. If any of the risk factors are known, doctors have a duty to monitor the patient and take preventative steps to reduce the likelihood of early labor. These steps can prolong pregnancy and ensure that the baby receives prompt treatment after delivery.

A doctor may be liable for medical malpractice by failing to:

  • Properly monitoring the mother,
  • Order bed rest when the mother is at risk,
  • Properly diagnose and treat incompetent cervixes,
  • Prescribe medications to assist in the baby’s brain and lung development, or
  • Prescribe medications to slow or stop preterm labor.

There are many examples of medical malpractice causing or contributing to preterm labor and premature birth. An attorney can help families determine if a doctor or medical provider is responsible for a mother or baby’s injuries. If a doctor or other medical professional failed to prevent preterm birth, they might be financially liable to the family.

Premature Delivery Signs

Some premature deliveries happen spontaneously. However, in many cases, there are indications of imminent delivery. Although all women should exhibit caution when preterm labor begins, those with high-risk pregnancies should seek care immediately. Some common signs of preterm labor include:

  • The sudden decrease in baby movement;
  • Increased vaginal discharge, spotting, or bleeding;
  • Cramping or pressure in the uterus or abdomen;
  • Contractions occurring less than ten minutes apart;
  • Consistent and dull lower backache; and
  • The preterm rupture of waters or membranes.

Women often worry about mistaking false labor; however, prompt treatment can prevent serious injuries and death.  Doctors, nurses, and midwives should not dismiss these complaints as they can be signs of labor and delivery. Moreover, if premature delivery is imminent, medical providers should provide the mother and baby with appropriate treatment. A doctor may be liable for failing to stop premature delivery and mitigating the harm after an early delivery.

Complications of a Premature Birth

There are many complications and potential injuries that may stem from preterm birth. The injuries can vary in severity depending on their birth weight and other factors. Some of the injuries are short-term, and others can persist for the child’s entire life. However, many preterm births are preventable if medical professionals take the necessary precautions.

There are often significant costs associated with these injuries and complications. For example, a premature baby may experience:

  • Hearing and vision problems that may require surgery or other intervention;
  • Cerebral palsy may necessitate speech, occupational, and physical therapy;
  • Respiratory illnesses that will require the baby to use oxygen and other devices to help them breathe;
  • Developmental delays that require intensive and consistent therapy; and
  • In some cases, a premature baby may not be able to survive outside of the womb.

Effectively treating these illnesses, diseases, and conditions often requires costly services that insurance may not cover. Insurance companies do not often understand the scope of treatment a baby requires. Their policies and coverage may not adequately meet a child’s needs. In these cases, parents might need to go outside the policy to secure appropriate treatment for their child. These treatments can be upwards of hundreds of dollars per appointment and require multiple weekly appointments.

Further, the full extent of a baby’s injuries may not be apparent until some time after delivery. A child’s difficulties may manifest once they are in a learning environment or around other children.

Premature delivery does not only affect the infant’s quality of life. Caretakers may need to take significant time off of work to meet their child’s healthcare needs. Parents may also experience pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other emotional and physical issues related to the birth. Compensation may be available for parents in the wake of a preventable birth injury.

For Families Experiencing Premature Births, Medical Negligence Lawyers Can Help

If you recently gave birth to a premature baby, your child’s preterm birth may have been the result of medical malpractice. At the law firm of Batson Nolan PLC, our dedicated medical malpractice and birth injury lawyers have a long history of obtaining compensation on behalf of families who experience a birth injury. Our compassionate lawyers understand the challenges your family is facing. We can help you understand your rights and pursue a claim against the parties responsible for your child’s injuries. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, reach out to Batson Nolan PLC through our online contact form. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our legal services unless we can recover compensation on behalf of your family.