Every pregnancy is different and carries its own risks. If an obstetrician fails to identify a pregnancy on the high end of the risk spectrum, and birth injuries result that could have been prevented by the treatments normally applicable to high risk pregnancies, a medical malpractice case could result.
- Older women who become pregnant generally face greater risks of birth injuries or defects. One such common risk is Down syndrome, which occurs when a child has an extra chromosome 21 in their DNA. A doctor who fails to test for the presence of chromosomal defects leaves themselves open to a malpractice suit should a birth injury occur.
- Babies born prematurely also face higher risk of birth injuries such as birth trauma and mental retardation. Doctors must therefore make every reasonable attempt to help the baby develop as fully as possible prior to delivery.
- Large babies face higher than normal risks of delivery complications. Ultrasound examinations should let a doctor identify an infant whose size will prevent the child from vaginal birth by trial of labor.
- Multiple births are also a very high risk category. The more children with which a women is pregnant, the greater the inherent risks. Any doctor who fails to perform an early screening and regular prenatal visits opens themselves up to accusations of negligence.
- Even in lesser risk pregnancies, there are several tests such as ultrasounds and fetal non-stress tests that are routine, standard treatments. An obstetrician or doctor who fails to perform these accepted tests may well be liable if preventable birth injuries occur.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.