Firm Logo

Prenatal Care Malpractice: Causes of Prenatal Injuries and How to Prove Malpractice

By: Anapol Weiss

The prenatal stage of pregnancy is when the fetus is in the developing stage in the mother’s womb. During a pregnancy, frequent visits to the doctor are routine to ensure the mother and baby’s safety. As the mother gets closer to labor, the frequency of the doctor visits will increase. If any abnormalities in the mother or baby are discovered, the healthcare professional will need to treat the mother properly and efficiently to protect the baby. Failure to provide proper medical care at this prenatal stage can result in injury to the baby as well as the mother.

Medical Mishaps That Can Lead to Prenatal Injuries

Doctors have a medical standard of care to uphold with each of their patients. This means that after a doctor-patient relationship is built, the healthcare professional owes their patient the same skilled and competent care another medical professional would have provided given the same circumstances. Failure to abide by this standard of care could result in serious injuries to the developing baby.

Failure to Diagnose a Contagious Disease or Medical Condition

The failure to diagnose a contagious disease or medical condition of the mother can be incredibly dangerous for the baby. If the healthcare professional fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses medical conditions like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, high or low blood pressure or hypoglycemia, the consequences can take an extreme toll on the mother and baby. When identified, these medical conditions require attention immediately to lessen the risk of injury to the baby. If the mother has a contagious disease like lupus or a sexually transmitted disease and it’s left untreated, the mother could be passing down a harmful disease to her child. Additionally, failure to prescribe proper medication that is suitable for pregnant women can result in harm as well.

If the healthcare professional conducts proper safety tests to their pregnant patients, risk factors are commonly identifiable and treatable. The earlier the disease is found, the higher the likelihood of the issue being resolved with minimal to no harm to the baby. If the medical professional does not catch or looks past these serious medical conditions, the baby could have permanent health complications.

Failing to Identify and Correct Birth Defect

If identified early, there are a few birth defects that are treatable when the fetus is developing. For example, spina bifida, or the improper formation of the spinal cord and spine, is able to be cured if the medical professional is able to identify and follow up with the proper procedure to solve the issue.

Failure to Diagnose Ectopic Pregnancy

If a fetus is growing inside a woman’s fallopian tubes rather than her uterus, the infant and mother are at serious risk. Ectopic pregnancies can result in cord compression, loss of blood or death. Doctors will conduct a pelvic exam, blood tests and ultrasounds to identify an ectopic pregnancy.

All of these conditions can be identified and treated by your doctor during the pregnancy process. The failure to do so could lead to serious injury.

How to Prove Prenatal Malpractice

The ‘duty of care’ is a physician’s legal and moral obligation to provide each patient with competent medical care. Here are a few guidelines that are specific to a medical professional’s prenatal duty of care:

  • Assess the patients background (lifestyle, medical history and physical exam)

  • Obtain updated medical history documentation

  • Regular pregnancy exams (ultrasound and stress tests)

  • Identifying and treating any complications

  • Warning patients of risks and complications ahead of time

  • Informing patients of proper pregnancy nutrition and lifestyle options and dangers

  • Performing risk assessments to determine and prevent any complications

If you had a relationship with your healthcare professional and he or she agreed to treat you, this automatically shows that your medical professional owed you competent medical care. Next, you must prove that your physician breached their duty of care and this neglect lead to your baby’s injuries. As far as liability goes, you can hold your doctor responsible only if they are independent contractors. Otherwise, the hospital is liable because the medical professionals are employees of the hospital and therefor the hospital’s responsibility.