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Articles Posted in Birth Injuries

Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM) can monitor the health of the baby during labor by continuously measuring the fetal heart rate. The fetal heart rate pattern must be evaluated in order to establish if the infant is receiving sufficient oxygen during labor and delivery. When a baby is deprived of adequate oxygen, his or her organs, including the brain, might sustain damage. Brain damage sustained during labor and delivery can be permanent and have a profound effect on the child’s life. A child can develop cerebral palsy, a motor handicap, if they did not receive enough oxygen during labor and delivery. The best technique for medical practitioners to determine if a baby is receiving adequate oxygen is by monitoring the fetal heart. Fetal distress is indicated if the baby’s heart rate is too high, too low, or otherwise abnormal. Fetal distress may indicate that the baby’s body is attempting to adjust to oxygen deprivation; it is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

If medical practitioners fail to use fetal heart rate monitors as directed, operate monitors incorrectly, interpret monitor readouts inaccurately, or fail to intervene when necessary, the repercussions could be severe. If the infant is injured as a result of irresponsible monitoring of the fetal heart rate, this constitutes medical malpractice. Our experienced trial attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano have a comprehensive understanding of medical malpractice law and empathy for families coping with the financial and emotional implications of birth injuries. We have numerous offices throughout Upstate New York that allow us to assist clients throughout the region. The results we have obtained for our clients are reflective of our significant experience in the field of medical malpractice.

EFM monitors and traces the mother’s uterine activity, continuously displaying the duration and intensity of the mother’s contractions. The contraction pattern of the mother is vital information that medical professionals must regularly monitor. If the infant is not reacting well to the mother’s contractions or the labor as a whole, the medical staff must take action to protect the infant.  This may involve abandoning the vaginal delivery plan in favor of a Cesarean section. If the medical practitioners fail to act promptly or fail to comprehend the information offered by EFM, they may cause severe damage to the mother and/or the infant.

In New York birth injury cases, the success of a plaintiff’s claims hinges not on whether the plaintiff can demonstrate they suffered harm but whether they can link that harm to the defendant’s acts or omissions. If they can, they may be awarded damages, but if they cannot, their claims may be dismissed via summary judgment. Recently, a New York court set forth an opinion explaining each party’s burden of proof in birth injury cases, in a matter in which it ultimately denied the defendant’s motion for dismissal. If your child sustained injuries at birth due to the negligence of a health care provider, you should speak to a Syracuse birth injury lawyer about what evidence you must produce to recover compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the mother presented to the defendant hospital when she was 39 weeks pregnant. She reported contractions and a substantial loss of fluid earlier that morning. She was admitted to the hospital, after which the defendant obstetrician was her attending physician. The infant failed to descend through the birth canal, and a c-section was performed later that afternoon.

Allegedly, the following day the child exhibited twitching in her right eye, torticollis, and other symptoms. Testing showed that she suffered an infarct and hemorrhaging in her brain. As a result, she sustained permanent partial right-sided paralysis. The mother filed a lawsuit against the defendants, averring their negligence caused the infant to sustain a birth injury. The defendants moved for dismissal of the mother’s claims via summary judgment, but the trial court denied the motion. The defendant then appealed. Continue Reading ›

A Syracuse medical malpractice claim can arise from many different situations. While the majority of such cases involve the care, diagnosis, and treatment of adults, medical negligence can also happen during the treatment of minors.

In addition to pediatric malpractice, birth injury malpractice claims against obstetricians and similar providers are fairly common. Such acts of negligence can include failure to properly monitor a mother or infant’s vital signs during labor and delivery, failure to diagnosis certain medical conditions in the mother and/or the baby, and failure to recognize that a particular birth may be more difficult than usual.

When an act of birth injury malpractice occurs, the parents, acting on both their own behalf and that of the minor child, have a right to file a claim asking a court to award fair compensation. During the pretrial phase of the case, it is likely that some (or all) of the defendants may seek dismissal of the case, arguing that there is a lack of proof regarding their alleged negligence.

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It is frequently said that “time is of the essence” when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits in New York, especially those involving governmental entities. While it is certainly true that Syracuse medical malpractice claims should be made in a timely fashion in order to have a reasonable chance of a successful outcome, there are, in a few, very limited circumstances, some exceptions to the general rule regarding the time period for filing suit.

However, these limitations are subject to judicial interpretation, and the case law concerning the rules allowing for an exception can evolve over time. This happened in a recent case, as set forth below.

It was unclear exactly when the alleged act of medical negligence took place, but the case had apparently been in litigation for many years. Had the plaintiff acted in a more timely fashion, it is possible that the matter would have been resolved much sooner.

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A patient can be the victim of medical negligence at any time in his or her life. Sometimes, nursing homes fail to meet the standard of care, and an elderly patient suffers as a result. At the other end of the spectrum, some Syracuse medical malpractice cases happen much earlier: during birth.

When a baby is harmed during labor and delivery, he or she may literally face a lifetime of medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and other issues. If these expenses are the result of a medical provider’s mistake, it is only fair that the provider contribute to the payment of such damages.

The amount of fair compensation that is due under such circumstances can be a matter of much contention. After a jury has made an award, it is not unusual for there to be an adjustment of the verdict by the trial court and/or the appellate tribunal if the amount awarded was not in line with the evidence presented at trial. Sometimes, the damages award is set aside, and a new trial is ordered.

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While mothers and infants generally fare much better during labor and delivery than they did in years past, Syracuse birth injuries still happen regularly. Obstetricians, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others are quick to point out that complications can arise even when healthcare workers “do everything right.”

However, these medical workers are human, and they don’t always “do everything right.” When things go wrong, the costs on the family can be staggering. Medical expenses, lost wage for the parent(s), lost earning potential for the child, and pain and suffering are all damages for which a malpractice victim can be financially compensated by the jury in a medical malpractice case – if the case makes it to trial.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a minor child who was born at the defendant hospital via an emergency cesarean section. The plaintiff’s complaint setting forth a claim for medical malpractice alleged that his birth occurred after a prolonged slowing of his heartbeat during delivery and that he suffered numerous injuries as a result from the defendant’s deviation from the accepted standard of care. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, urging the trial court to hold that the plaintiff had failed to provide sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue material fact such that proceeding to trial was necessary.

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Birth injuries caused by negligence during childbirth and delivery are, unfortunately, quite common. Just like surgeons and general practitioners, obstetricians and pediatricians sometimes make mistakes, and both mother and child can suffer serious, sometimes even fatal, consequences.

As with other types of Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. Typically, the defendant will attempt to get the case dismissed prior to trial via summary judgment.

When this happens, the result usually depends on the strength of the parties’ respective medical expert witnesses. Unless there is a genuine issue of material fact presented by their affidavits, the court will likely rule in the defendant’s favor.

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Not all doctors are held to the same standard of care. For example, it would probably be difficult to hold a podiatrist liable for failing to diagnose an abscessed tooth in a Syracuse medical malpractice case, even if the podiatrist was the only medical professional that the patient had seen recently. Rather, care and treatment by doctors who specialize in a particular field is measured according to others in that field. Would a reasonable podiatrist have diagnosed a problem tooth under the circumstances? Probably not (although he or she might have recommended follow-up with a dentist). In contrast, a podiatrist’s failure to recognize and treat a life-threatening infection in a foot wound might result in a finding of liability for negligence, as well as substantial damages at trial.

Likewise, certain knowledge and skill is expected of doctors who specialize in the care and treatment of expectant and laboring mothers. When this duty of care is breached, a family injured by this act of malpractice should have their day in court.

Facts of the Case

In a case originally filed in the Supreme Court for Putnam County, the plaintiff was a man who filed a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation for the death of a woman who died from a uterine rupture and hemorrhage during a home birth assisted by a certified nurse midwife. According to the plaintiff, the decedent had previously given birth via cesarean section but was, at the time of her death, attempting to deliver a child vaginally. The plaintiff further alleged that the decedent’s uterus had ruptured during the attempted vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC) and that she had suffered a fatal hemorrhage as a result. Several different medical providers were named in the plaintiff’s lawsuit, including an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB-GYN) and his medical practice.

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Generally speaking, a claim for medical malpractice must be filed within two and one-half years (30 months) of an alleged act of medical negligence in the state of New York. While some circumstances can operate to lengthen the time for filing a claim, other circumstances can shorten the period substantially. For instance, if the defendant in a proposed Syracuse birth injury lawsuit is a governmental entity, the plaintiff may have as little as 90 days in which to file a notice of claim (a condition precedent to the filing of a lawsuit against certain government entities, including those who own or operate hospitals).

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the petitioner was an infant, proceeding through his mother and natural guardian, who sought to assert a medical malpractice claim against the respondent city hospital corporation (a public entity). Although the infant was discharged from the hospital shortly after his birth in April 2013, he did not file a motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim until May 2016 – more than three years after the alleged act of medical negligence. The Supreme Court of New York County denied the petitioner’s motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim, and he appealed.

The Court’s Decision

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the lower court’s order denying the relief sought by the petitioner. According to the court, both the infant and his mother received pre- and post-natal care at the respondent’s hospital in 2013. In the reviewing court’s opinion, any medical malpractice claim that the petitioner might have had against the respondent accrued upon the petitioner’s discharge from the hospital; thus the applicable claims period began to run more than three years prior to the filing of the petitioner’s motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim.

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A Syracuse medical malpractice case can have many issues and may take several years to ultimately be decided. While this can be daunting to a would-be plaintiff, this does not mean that a claim against a careless doctor or other medical professional should not be pursued. If you believe that you or a loved one has been hurt by a doctor’s mistake, the best course of action is to talk to an attorney about your case as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were the parents of a minor child who allegedly suffered certain injuries as a result of the negligence of the defendant doctors and medical clinic during labor and delivery. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a defense verdict. The plaintiff made an immediate oral motion seeking a mistrial on the basis of substantial juror confusion. The trial court granted the motion. Thereafter, the defendants made a post-trial motion to reinstate the verdict. The trial court denied the motion, but the appellate court granted the motion and reinstated the verdict. The plaintiffs then made a post-trial motion to set aside the verdict in the interest of justice. The trial court denied the motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

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