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Retinopathy of Prematurity

Lawyers Helping Premature Babies in Upstate New York

The retina is the inner layer of eye that converts light into visual messages sent to the brain. If a baby is born prematurely, the blood vessels in her retinas may not grow properly. Premature infants may suffer from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which is a disease in which the retina may detach from the wall of the eye, potentially causing blindness. Babies born before 31 weeks of gestation are at the greatest risk of developing this disease. If your child was born before reaching full term and suffers from retinopathy of prematurity, you should consult with the seasoned Syracuse birth injury attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano.

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Most babies with retinopathy of prematurity can see, but those whose retinopathy of prematurity progresses may become blind. Gestational age and birth weight are critical risk factors for developing this disease, as are fetal respiratory distress, anemia, poor weight gain, blood transfusion and breathing issues. Sometimes retinopathy of prematurity develops due to an OB-GYN or other healthcare provider’s professional negligence.

Liability for Birth Injuries

In order to recover damages through a birth injury lawsuit, your attorney will need to establish professional negligence by showing: (1) your doctor owed you and the baby a professional duty of care, (2) your doctor departed from the professional standard of care, (3) actual and proximate causation, and (4) damages. The professional duty of care in birth injury and medical malpractice lawsuits in New York is governed by the locality rule, which compares the care provided by your doctor or other healthcare provider in Syracuse with the professional duty of care that would be given by competent health care providers in the same specialty in or around Syracuse under the same or similar circumstances.

Your attorney will also retain an expert, such as a board-certified OB-GYN, to testify about what the professional duty of care was, how it was breached, and how it caused retinopathy of prematurity in your infant. Generally, doctors should monitor fetuses appropriately for oxygen loss. Once a baby with risk factors for retinopathy of prematurity is born, doctors should monitor the development of blood vessels in the baby’s eyes. Surgery may need to be performed immediately to stop a baby’s condition from worsening. Whether your healthcare provider acted appropriately with regard to these potential issues is a question experts will need to answer.

Certificate of Merit

Medical malpractice lawyers need to work up your case to make sure your claim is meritorious. Even before filing suit, they will retain an expert to review your medical records and the facts to evaluate whether your claim has merit. Under New York Civil Practice Law and Rules section 3012-a, they must file your medical malpractice complaint with a certificate of merit, which is a document certifying that the attorneys have consulted with a medical expert who has concluded that the plaintiff’s birth injury or medical malpractice lawsuit has merit. The expert must confirm that a reasonable basis exists for the lawsuit and that your healthcare provider deviated from acceptable medical practices, which caused injury to the baby.


If your attorneys are able to establish liability for retinopathy of prematurity, you may be able to recover damages. Damages in birth injury cases are usually compensatory, meaning they are intended to put you back in the position you would have been in had there been no medical malpractice. These damages may include both economic and noneconomic losses. Economic losses may include medical bills, therapy, rehabilitation, and out-of-pocket expenses. They may include the cost of assistive technology such as a screen reader. Noneconomic losses can include pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment. The severity of the baby’s condition will determine the damages.

Consult a Dedicated Birth Injury Attorney

If your baby suffers from retinopathy of prematurity in Syracuse, you should talk to a knowledgeable birth injury attorney about your situation. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, we represent babies and their families in Upstate New York, including Rochester and Syracuse. We also help clients in Lowville, Oswego, Watertown, Binghamton, Herkimer, Canandaigua, Cooperstown, Wampsville, Auburn, Oneida, Ithaca, Utica, Elmira and Lyons. Contact us at 833-200-2000 or through our online form.

Client Reviews
"We were very impressed with how Jeff DeFrancisco represented us at trial and we were extremely happy when the jury found in our favor." D.M., Auburn, NY
"I suffered a serious injury as a result of medical malpractice. My husband and I retained Jeff DeFrancisco to assist us in this case. We were extremely happy with his representation and highly recommend him." Kelley R., Syracuse, NY
Since the insurance company was unwilling to settle the matter my case ultimately went to trial. At trial Jeff DeFrancisco did an absolutely amazing job by obtaining a very favorable result for me." T.H., Oneida, NY
"I highly recommend DeFrancisco & Falgiatano - Charlie represented me for a medical malpractice case. He is the best of the best. He is friendly and I am very happy with the representation he provided." Roger N., Oneida, NY