What is Infant Wrongful Death?
Giving birth to a new baby is one of the most joyous occasions for a family and most babies are born happy and healthy. However, sometimes serious medical errors happen, and the infant may pass away before or shortly after being born. If those medical errors were preventable or were caused by the malpractice of doctors or nurses involved in the birth, this unnecessary death is considered an infant wrongful death.
Pennsylvania defines wrongful death as one caused by the neglectful or unlawful actions of another person. When someone is killed due to gross negligence or wrongful acts at the hands of another party or parties, those actions can become the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit. In a medical malpractice context, this type of lawsuit is filed on behalf of designated family members of the victim against any medical personnel and/or facilities that were negligent or incompetent in treating the patient such that their care led to the passing.
Infant wrongful death is typically caused by traumatic birth injuries. These birth injuries happen when a medical professional fails to act quickly enough to prevent birth complications, uses inappropriate delivery techniques, or makes other serious medical errors. The medical professionals who are delivering your baby are expected to have the knowledge and expertise required to prevent these types of injuries. Sadly, this is not always what happens, and infant wrongful death can be the result.
The following traumatic birth injuries can cause infant wrongful death:
Perinatal asphyxia, which causes hypoxia, is the lack of blood flow or gas exchange to or from the fetus in the time immediately before, during, or after the birth process. When prenatal or pulmonary (post-birth) gas exchange is compromised or stops altogether, this causes hypoxemia. Hypoxia soon follows when the levels of oxygen in the baby’s or mother’s muscles and organs have been reduced. Hypoxia can cause severe and permanent damage to the baby – including death – in a very short matter of time, so it is vital that medical professionals know the early signs of it, especially when a woman is in labor.
Hypoxia can be caused by compression or restriction of the umbilical cord, the umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck, or by problems with blood flow in the placenta. If doctors fail to recognize the early warning signs of a baby having hypoxia, death can occur quickly.
Bleeding during pregnancy that is caused by complications is called Antepartum Hemorrhage. This can happen if the placenta prematurely separates from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption). If the delivering doctor fails to recognize that this has occurred, the baby may die during delivery or a short time after. If the placenta has implanted itself near the top of the cervix (placenta previa), and doctors fail to recognize it, it can also cause severe bleeding and premature birth that may result in infant death.
During labor, the uterus is under such great stress that it can rupture. If certain drugs were used to induce labor, such as Pitocin, or there was unnecessary pushing on the mother’s stomach that led to a uterine rupture, it can be considered malpractice. The baby must be delivered quickly after a uterine rupture has been detected or both the mother and infant may lose their lives.
If a family who has suddenly lost their new baby suspects it was due to traumatic birth injury or malpractice, filing an infant wrongful death lawsuit may be able to help cover medical bills and funeral costs. Victims and attorneys in these cases must prove that the infant wrongful death was the direct result of medical malpractice by the doctors, nurses, or facility involved.
Medical Malpractice and Infant Wrongful Death Lawyer
Sadly, Philadelphia records many infant wrongful deaths every year. Victims and their loved ones deserve justice, and as part of that justice, they should be fairly compensated for their massive losses. If an infant in your family died as the result of negligent medical care and you suspect malpractice, contact the Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers of Lopez McHugh LLP to discuss your case at no charge. Strict time limitations apply to your potential claims, so do not delay in contacting a lawyer for help.