Newborns are at a high risk of infection because their immune systems are insufficiently developed to fight off bacteria or pathogens. Although viral meningitis often resolves by itself without treatment, bacterial meningitis is a serious illness that can lead to harmful outcomes like hearing loss, brain damage or death. The bacteria that causes meningitis may be transferred from a mother to a baby, which makes prenatal care and screening for bacterial infections very important. If your baby was harmed by bacterial meningitis and you suspect the harm was caused by medical malpractice, you should consult the Syracuse birth injury attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano for a case review.Bacterial Meningitis
Bacterial meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. When a newborn contracts bacterial meningitis, their symptoms may include fever, irritability, vomiting, sleepiness, feeding problems, and hypothermia. However, these symptoms can also indicate other problems, and a doctor may be reluctant to perform the spinal tap needed to diagnose a patient. A stiff neck and confusion are also symptoms of bacterial meningitis, but these can be more difficult to observe in a newborn.
Babies can be infected with bacteria as they descend the birth canal or just after they are born. Infant meningitis may be caused by exposure to listeria, E. coli or group B strep. Sometimes, pregnant women have group B strep without symptoms. This can be tested for between the 35 th and 37 th week of pregnancy. A positive group B strep test indicates that the pregnant mother should be treated with antibiotics to avoid passing the bacteria to the baby during labor.
Bacterial meningitis may necessitate treatment with antibiotics and other care in the NICU. Serious consequences may arise from a doctor’s failure to diagnose or treat a baby with bacterial meningitis.Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can be the result of medical negligence during the pregnancy or immediately after delivery. In order to hold an obstetrician-gynecologist or other health care provider liable for a birth injury arising out of bacterial meningitis, you’ll need to show it’s more likely than not the health care provider owed you and the baby a professional standard of care, from which he departed, thereby causing birth injuries to the baby.
In order to establish medical malpractice, your lawyer will retain a medical expert to determine what the professional standard of care was under the circumstances, whether and how it was breached, and whether the breach caused the harm sustained by the baby. The professional standard of care is how a reasonably competent health care provider in the same specialty and in or around Syracuse would have acted under the same circumstances. If a reasonably prudent doctor would have ordered a spinal tap to diagnose bacterial meningitis, and your OB-GYN failed to do this, your OB-GYN may be held liable for the birth injuries.Damages
You may be able to recover damages for birth injuries caused by medical malpractice in connection with bacterial meningitis. The amount and type of damages will depend on the nature of birth injuries caused by the bacterial meningitis.
Damages can include both economic and noneconomic losses. For instance, if a baby develops cerebral palsy due to bacterial meningitis permanently harming the brain, there may be paralysis in the parts of the brain that communicate muscle movement to the rest of the baby’s body. The baby may need substantial therapy and medical care and may experience a reduced quality of life. You may be able to recover these quantified losses in a birth injury lawsuit.Consult a Seasoned Attorney in Syracuse
If your baby was harmed by bacterial meningitis that could have been prevented or that wasn’t diagnosed and treated, you should talk to an experienced lawyer at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano. We represent patients and their families in Rochester, Syracuse and other cities in Upstate New York, including in Cooperstown, Auburn, Oneida, Canandaigua, Binghamton, Lyons, Oswego, Watertown, Wampsville, Elmira, Herkimer, Ithaca, Lowville, and Utica. Please contact DeFrancisco & Falgiatano at 315-479-9000 or by completing our online form.