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Being pregnant, especially for the first time, means you’ll get lots of advice from relatives and friends but you may well prefer to trust what your midwife or doctor says.
These may affect the developing baby’s limbs or they may include heart abnormalities and defects in the spinal cord, such a spina bifida. Some prenatal health problems such as pre-eclampsia can adversely affect both mother and child if not treated appropriately.
Ultrasound scanning equipment has made it a lot easier to detect these health problems. If an ultrasound scan is correctly performed it can detect about 50% of abnormalities and blood tests can also give accurate and reliable results. Expectant mothers are usually routinely screened using these various tests and informed promptly of the results.
However occasionally things can go wrong. Sub-standard prenatal advice and care may lead to sometimes life-threatening complications for mother and child. Failure to appropriately conduct and interpret tests for birth defects such as Downs’s syndrome may mean the mother gives birth to a child with a physical or mental disability when she might have preferred a termination had she known about the birth defect.
If a birth defect is not detected, either through faulty equipment or due to an avoidable error, it may be possible to make a claim if mother or baby suffer harm as a consequence.
How do I make a claim involving negligent prenatal advice
You may have had poor advice and care during your pregnancy (prenatal period) and as a consequence your baby suffered an injury. Perhaps the wrong choice of assisted delivery was made or the infant was born with physical and mental disabilities you were not expecting.
You may be able to make a claim against those responsible for your prenatal care and management of your pregnancy, whether they are midwives, doctors or consultant obstetricians. It may also be possible to claim where a failure to appropriately conduct tests means birth defects such as Downs syndrome are not identified, meaning you proceed with the pregnancy when, had you known of the condition, you may have decided otherwise.
These cases are difficult and complex. The most important step is to contact an expert law firm like Shoosmiths which specialises in this sort of work. Your chosen law firm should have good medico-legal knowledge and have access to the right experts. Proving negligence by those charged with your prenatal care is based on expert opinion and hard evidence obtained from medical records and intensive investigation of all the aspects your case.
Whatever the tragic circumstances of your case, We can help you to get answers and emotional closure and help you access all the practical, psychological and financial support your family might need for the future.
How long will my negligent prenatal advice claim take
This is difficult to pin down precisely. These cases require access to records and paperwork as well as investigative work. How quickly these documents are made available will influence how long it takes to establish the facts and be in a position to prove your case.
Whether or not the other party admits liability will also dictate how long it takes to reach a resolution. We will need to establish if there's a case to be answered by the other side. We must prove that mistakes were made, correct procedures were not followed, advice was not given or tests were not carried out as they should have been.
We then need to obtain evidence about the condition of your baby and what their future might look like or assess the mother’s health and wellbeing as well as her own future needs. It will take time and the input of many specialists to build an accurate picture.
The length of time spent in such investigations can vary. It’s possible that intervention and support will be required for the rest of your child’s life. The fact that your injured child may be denied the possibility of future earnings through work will also need to be factored into any settlement.
Often, the other side will dispute our evidence and our valuation so we need to enter into negotiations to reach a satisfactory settlement. We may need to ask a Judge to decide your case in Court. We will always aim to resolve your case as quickly as possible, but it will take time to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome for you and your baby.
If I have a negligent prenatal advice claim what happens next
Determining if you have a case for making a negligent prenatal advice claim depends on proving that your obstetrician, midwife or other medical staff involved in managing your pregnancy breached their duty of care to you and your child.
A birth defect that should have been diagnosed early in the pregnancy may go undetected due to an equipment failure or an inexperienced or incompetent ultrasound operator. Misinterpreting blood test results could also lead to potential problems being overlooked and the opportunity to treat them being missed.
Care in the final stages of labour can also be sub-standard. Problems can be caused by a failure to properly interpret or understand the output of cardiotocography (CTG) equipment which might be indicating that the baby is in distress and urgent delivery is required.
Our expert medical negligence solicitors can use the medical records, statements and opinions of experts and other evidence to prove that 'on the balance of probability' (i.e. a greater than 50% likelihood) it was those avoidable errors in the prenatal advice you received that were directly responsible for the harm mother and child suffered.
Even if those injuries were caused early on in the pregnancy but did not become apparent until after the birth of your baby, you may have a case for making a negligent prenatal advice claim.
More about negligent prenatal advice claims
Although most pregnancies end with the birth of a healthy baby, in some cases avoidable complications can arise during pregnancy which could result in permanent injury to the baby or the mother.
As a result there are a number of babies who are born with a birth defect which can be life threatening that should have been diagnosed and treated before birth.
If the signs of maternal or gestational diabetes are not detected when they should be or if a screening test is not carried out when it should have been, the condition if left undiagnosed and untreated can lead to brain and heart defects in the developing baby or even miscarriage.
It can also cause the baby to grow to a large size which can make the baby more difficult to deliver. As a consequence of a poorly managed delivery of a large baby the baby is at risk from Erb's Palsy and Brachial Plexus injuries which damage the nerves that control the muscles in the shoulder, arm and hand.
Pre-eclampsia is a very serious condition that can lead to the death of both mother and baby. It is a defect in the placenta and a failure to diagnose pre-eclampsia at regular prenatal checks which then goes on to cause an injury to with mother or baby may also be grounds for making a claim.
Although a number of these problems cannot be prevented, increasingly sophisticated tests and scanning equipment, if properly used and interpreted, should result in safer and more accurate diagnosis at an earlier stage. If this does not happen, Shoosmiths may be able to help you in obtaining some redress.
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