In bringing a birth injury suit, the first question that plaintiffs ask is who they can hold liable for injuries suffered by infants during childbirth. A claim of negligence or medical malpractice for birth injuries may be brought not only against doctors but against any individual or entity that provided health care services during the delivery of the injured infant. As such, a medical malpractice claim may also be brought against hospitals or health care facilities, nurses, anesthesiologists, pharmaceutical companies, and others. If you are considering bringing a birth injury suit in Utah, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney such as Charles H. Thronson, Attorney at Law who can advise you on your legal options.
Doctors have an obligation to use the care and skill expected of a reasonably competent health care provider under the circumstances. This is called the generally accepted standard of care, and if a doctor fails to provide this, a breach of duty has occurred. If that breach causes an injury, then there is likely a valid medical malpractice claim against that doctor. This standard of care takes into account the available technology, what the profession generally regards as the proper course of action for the situation, and whether the medical provider is a specialist or a general practitioner. Notably, Utah has no mandatory insurance requirements for doctors and does not provide any type of patient compensation fund.
Hospitals are public or private corporations that may be held liable for the negligence of its employees. While the majority of doctors are independent contractors and not employees of hospitals (though some are), nurses, medical technicians, and paramedics are employees. Therefore, if those employees committed medical malpractice in their provision of medical care related to their jobs, then the employing hospital may be held liable for those injuries.
Some states recognize a cause of action against a hospital for negligent credentialing. In such cases, hospitals may be held liable for providing hospital privileges to incompetent doctors. In these states, hospitals are required to exercise due care to investigate the credentials of an attending physician before granting him or her privileges at the hospital. However, in 2011, Utah passed a statute that prohibited suits against health care providers for negligent credentialing.
Additionally, hospitals must ensure that there is a sufficient number of nurses and other supporting medical staff on duty at all times to maintain patient care at an acceptable level of quality. If a nursing or other staff shortage results in injury to a patient, such as not having enough staff present in the delivery room thus resulting in a birth injury, that hospital may be held liable. Hospitals may also be liable for employees’ failure to follow orders from a patient’s private attending physician or failing to inquire from the physician if a prescribed treatment plan is contraindicated.
Liability of Nurses
Pregnant women who are in a hospital to deliver their children usually interact with nurses the most. Nurses are charged with frequently monitoring the health of the baby and the mother. They are tasked with keeping watch over electronic fetal monitoring strips for signs of fetal distress when the infant may not be getting enough oxygen. Additionally, they have to monitor the mother for signs of medical problems such as bleeding and infection. Nurses may also be responsible for administering the right amount of the right drug prescribed to the mother and the baby. It also matters if a nurse was acting under the direction of the physician in carrying out an action that may have caused the injury during injury. Some nurses also carry independent medical malpractice insurance policies. These are all relevant questions to be investigated by a plaintiff pursuing a birth injury claim.
Charles H. Thronson, Attorney at Law, is a seasoned personal injury attorney with years of experience in pursuing medical malpractice claims against health care providers for birth injuries in Utah. If you believe the medical staff was negligent in providing you with care during your delivery, resulting in injuries to your infant, do not hesitate to contact us today for an initial consultation by calling our office or by completing our online form. We will examine your case and advise you on the best strategy for obtaining compensation.