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Determining liability in birth injury cases

When a newborn is injured during his or her birth, determining who is at fault for the injury is an essential part of a medical malpractice case. There are several professionals who could be held liable individually, including doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists in addition to the facility where the act of negligence took place.

A hospital may be vicariously liable for a birth injury if one of the employees of the facility was negligent in their care of a patient. Plaintiffs in malpractice suits often use this rule when the negligent physician was a direct employee of the hospital and was acting within their licensing guidelines when the error occurred.

Hospitals and birthing centers are sometimes liable for birth injuries simply because they did not fully investigate the credentials of negligent doctors before they were hired or given rights to practice at the facility. When the hospital management doesn't take steps to ensure all of their employees and attending physicians are fully licensed and qualified, the facility may be responsible for the injury to the newborn due to their own negligence.

Pharmaceutical companies are rarely held liable in malpractice cases. Because their responsibility is to the prescribing physician, they merely need to inform the doctors of the risks and side effects. A doctor who treats a patient with a medication after knowing about the risks may be held liable for birth injuries caused by the drug.

The family of a newborn injured during or soon after delivery may face overwhelming medical costs to care for their baby. An attorney who focuses on medical malpractice cases may help them determine who was at fault for their child's injuries and use the court system to hold the negligent doctor or medical facility responsible.

Source: Findlaw, "Responsible Parties in Birth Injury Cases: Who Can Be Sued?", September 04, 2014

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