You don’t have to be a parent to understand how devastating birth injuries can be to a child and his or her family. Moving forward after complications from a birth can be incredibly scary, especially without knowing the long-term prognosis. It can take years to discover and understand the full extent of a birth injury and all of its consequences. And because the state of Missouri has a statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases, parents in this situation need to act quickly — often without having all the answers up front.
One Missouri couple is pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit six years after the birth of their son, who has since been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. In their case against the hospital and three physicians, the couple argue that errors made by the medical staff were not communicated to the parents. More importantly, they could have been prevented.
As is the case with 5 to 10 percent of cerebral palsy cases, the couple’s son suffered from oxygen deprivation during and after delivery. The parents say that the team of doctors and nurses failed to tell them about the complications while they were happening, even though their son was clearly experiencing problems after the birth. “There was no sign of life at all,” the father said about seeing his son for the first time.
Although the first-time parents began researching cerebral palsy shortly after his birth, it took another two years for a diagnosis. Their son, now in kindergarten, requires a leg brace and attends physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions one to three times per week. He will need specialized medical care the rest of his life — expenses they hope to cover with their medical malpractice lawsuit. The defendants in the lawsuit have denied wrongdoing and argued that the statute of limitations has run out on the couple’s claim.
This outcome of this case remains to be seen, but it contains an important lesson for other potential medical malpractice victims: When negligence or a medical error has the potential to create a lifetime of hardship, time is of the essence. You may be overwhelmed with questions, but an attorney with experience in holding doctors and hospitals accountable for their mistakes can help you find the answers and pursue the compensation you need to move on.
Source: Statesman Journal, “Lawsuit over birth injury: Misfortune or malpractice?” Saerom Yoo, May 23, 2014