Legal responsibility and liability for birth injuries in Texas depends on the details of what happened during the labor and delivery. The first step in investigating a potential birth injury case involves finding out what went wrong during the labor and delivery and identifying the medical personnel who were involved in the medical mistakes.
Any type of medical provider who makes a medical error which causes a birth injury can be legally responsible and liable. This includes doctors, midwives, nurses and other types of medical personnel who were involved in the labor and delivery.
Depending on the circumstances that caused the birth injury, a hospital or a hospital system can be legally liable. Hospital systems are frequently for-profit corporations. These hospital corporations employ nurses, midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and sometimes doctors. As the employer, the hospital is legally responsible for the negligence of its employees. For example, if a labor and delivery nurse fails to properly monitor an unborn baby during labor causing the baby to suffer an injury because of lack of oxygen, the hospital, as the employer, is legally responsible for the nurse’s negligence.
Hospital systems have an independent duty to hire nurses, midwives, anesthetists, and other medical staff that are competent and safe. Hospital systems must properly train the employees to provide competent and safe care and must properly supervise these employees who are providing care to patients. If a hospital system hires nurses or other medical employees who are not competent or if a hospital system fails to train or supervise nurses/medical employees, the hospital can be legally liable for the hospital’s own negligent hiring, training or supervision.
Hospital systems have a duty to implement policies and procedures in labor and delivery to protect the safety of the patients – both the mothers and the unborn babies. If a hospital system has policies and procedures that do not adequately protect the mothers and the babies or if the hospital fails to implement or enforce policies and procedures causing a preventable injury to a baby, the hospital can be legally liable for its own negligence.
Doctors are sometimes, but not always, employees of hospital systems. In situations where doctors make medical mistakes causing injury to the baby, the doctor as well as his/her medical professional association may be legally responsible and liable.
In some instances the manufacturer of a pharmaceutical drug or device can be held liable for a birth injury. For example, a pharmaceutical company that manufactures and sells a drug that is prescribed for and used by a pregnant woman may be held liable for injuries to the baby caused by the drug. These types of claims are usually based on a legal theory that the pharmaceutical company failed to adequately warn of the potential dangers of using the medication.
If you are concerned that your child has suffered a birth injury, you should consider legal evaluation of your situation to determine whether there were medical errors made which caused the birth injury. The specific details of each potential case will determine which hospital system or medical provider has legal responsibility and liability for the injury. Choosing a lawyer to represent your child may be one of the most important decisions that you ever make. It is very important to talk to a lawyer who has knowledge and experience in birth injury cases to help advise you.
At Birth Injury Safety, Laura Brown devotes her practice to representing babies who have suffered preventable birth injuries. Please email her directly at [email protected] or call her at (214) 974-4121 to talk with her about your situation. There is no charge to consult with her about your child’s legal rights.