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Medical Negligence During Birth – Your Guide.

Australia is one of the safest countries in the world to give birth in*, but it’s still possible for things to go wrong. Giving birth is an intense and potentially dangerous process for both mother and baby and if a healthcare provider is negligent in their practice, it can lead to injuries. Depending on who is injured, a birth negligence claim can offer you and/or your child financial support for treatment, time off work, personal and domestic care and assistance, and even pain and suffering compensation.

Mother experiences medical negligence during birth ultrasound

In this guide, we cover:

*According the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Am I eligible to make a birth negligence claim?

Healthcare providers like doctors and midwives have a duty of care to look after you and your baby. However, if that care is compromised and causes an injury to you or your child, then you may be eligible to claim.

Negligence can occur if the hospital is understaffed, and there aren’t enough midwives or doctors to provide proper monitoring during birth. It can also happen if the hospital doesn’t have enough beds so you’re discharged early, which can mean potential problems aren’t addressed in a timely manner. Negligence can also include being prescribed the wrong medication, which can put you and your child at risk. 

Claiming compensation for birth negligence – what you need to know.

Birth can be a difficult experience at the best of times, and it’s possible to be injured without anyone acting negligently. The most common birth negligence claims happen when the midwife or obstetrician aren’t monitoring the baby correctly, or not making the correct assessment of the situation. If you’re not sure if your injuries are the result of negligence, you should speak to a lawyer and get some personalised advice.

At Law Partners, we have solicitors who specialise in birth negligence claims. You can call us on 13 15 15 and speak to one of our lawyers for some free legal advice.

Many of our clients are hesitant to make a birth negligence claim because they don’t want to sue their midwife. However, if you’re injured because of negligence, and the midwife is employed by the hospital, you’ll be making a claim against the hospital and their insurer, not the practitioner directly.

If your child was injured during the birth process because of medical negligence, then you may be able to make a claim. While claims on behalf of children usually take a long time to allow the injuries to stabilise, liability disputes can be resolved early, and making a claim can help support them throughout their life.

If you’d like to know more about claiming on behalf of your child, call us on 13 15 15 today and speak to one of our specialist birth negligence solicitors.

Birth negligence claim time limit.

The time limit to make a birth negligence claim is generally three years, though it’s best to lodge your claim as soon as possible. If you’re worried that you’ve missed your chance, or you’re still unsure if you’re eligible to make a claim, get in touch with us today and speak to one of our specialised medical negligence lawyers for some free advice about your situation.

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Example of a birth negligence claim.

First-time mother, Martina, experienced negligence during her birth when the attending doctor didn’t make sure that she had fully delivered the placenta after her son was born. She had to have two surgeries to treat the ongoing implications of a retained placenta and developed post-natal depression and PTSD. Her birth negligence compensation claim resulted in a $350,000 settlement. You can read Martina’s story here.

Common birth negligence injuries.

There are many types of injuries that a mother or baby can suffer during the birth process. During and directly after the birth are the most important times for mother and baby to be carefully monitored. In our experience, these are some of the most common types of injuries caused by negligence.

Injuries to mothers.

There are many injuries possible when giving birth, and each depends on whether the baby was born by caesarean or vaginal birth, but common injuries include tearing, pelvic floor damage, infection or hemorrhaging. There’s also the risk of not delivering your placenta fully, which can have ongoing complications. 

Understaffed maternity wards can lead to mothers being discharged before they’re fully prepared, which can have a significant impact, particularly on first-time parents. Being discharged early from hospital means it’s less likely that any issues are noticed and addressed, like if the baby isn’t feeding correctly.

Psychological injuries.

Even if you don’t suffer a physical injury like tearing, negligence can cause psychological injuries, and you may still be able to make a claim. One of our clients was told not to come to the hospital yet as her contractions hadn’t progressed far enough, and she ended up delivering her baby in the car on the way to hospital. Even though she and the baby were physically healthy, the mother developed PTSD and post-partum depression as a result of the hospital denying her timely treatment, and she was able to make a psychological injury claim for birth negligence.

Injuries to babies.

Injuries to babies during childbirth can be significant and can have an ongoing impact on a child. Failing to correctly monitor a baby’s heart rate, or recognise that the baby isn’t coping well with labour, is one of the most common forms of negligence, and if the baby doesn’t get proper oxygen during birth, then they can suffer lifelong brain injuries.

Other injuries we often see include bone damage, particularly shoulder dystocia where a baby’s shoulders get caught in the birth canal. This also increases the risk of oxygen loss, and if it’s not addressed quickly then injuries can become more severe.   

How to get help with your birth negligence claim.

Birth injury negligence claims can be complex. They can also be difficult to prove, and you shouldn’t try to pursue a claim on your own. If you think you’ve experienced negligence, or even if you’re not sure, the easiest way to find out if you can make a claim is by speaking to a medical negligence lawyer who specialises in birth claims.

Law Partners is Australia’s largest specialist personal injury firm, with several experienced birth negligence lawyers. If it looks likely that you can make a birth negligence claim, we’ll generally consult with other medical experts to confirm the likelihood of success. This is an important step in assessing your case, as we’ll need reports from medical experts as part of the evidence to support your birth negligence claim. We fund these reports for you, so there are no up-front costs for you to pay.

You can call us on 13 15 15 for some free, personalised legal advice over the phone from one of our medical negligence lawyers, or chat with us online.

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