Stillbirth Malpractice Attorney Holding Doctors Accountable for Medical Negligence
Did your delivery involve serious complications that eventually resulted in the death of your child? Did your newborn experience oxygen deprivation that led to a stillbirth because the doctor failed to act quickly?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys handle fetal death and severe injury cases and can help your family too. Call a birth injury attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation to discuss medical negligence.
Losing a child to a stillborn complication is heartbreaking and finding out that the newborn's death was caused by medical negligence and could have been prevented is tragic.
While holding those at fault financially accountable for causing the child's death, the financial compensation will never alleviate the pain and grief of the loss; but it can bring justice to the family who needs closure.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), approximately 1% of all pregnancies (24,000 babies) in the U.S. are stillborn every year.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Case Against Healthcare Professionals
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents families who have lost a loved one through a birth injury complication and other types of professional negligence.
Our birth injury law firm has successfully prosecuted medical malpractice cases for our clients who were grieving over the loss of a child caused by the negligent actions of others. We obtain medical records and will work with an expert medical witness who can shed light on the cause of the stillbirth.
Parents of a stillborn child filing a medical malpractice lawsuit will hold the healthcare professional accountable when they fail to uphold the care standard. Our medical malpractice attorneys are available to answer any legal questions on how to receive the monetary compensation you deserve if someone else's negligence caused your damages.
Should you have additional questions or need legal advice, we invite you to contact our office for a free review of your legal rights. You can also contact us for general information purposes - we are happy to help.
What is Stillbirth?
Healthcare professionals typically define stillbirth as an issue between the 24th and 40th week of pregnancy where there are no detectable signs of life.
Stillbirth is different than miscarriage that occurs much earlier during the pregnancy, and a live birth where the child dies after being born. Fortunately, stillbirth pregnancies are uncommon.
Many of these events result from the medical team's negligence, while several factors are out of the obstetrician's control during the pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
What Causes a Stillborn Birth?
The exact cause of a stillborn birth is unknown. However, certain lifestyle factors increased the potential risk of stillbirth pregnancy, including smoking, excessive drinking, and obesity. Smoking tobacco products as a pregnant mother is known to restrict fetal growth because it restricts the oxygen supply to the baby.
Common issues that can lead to stillborn births include:
- Placental Abruption– This condition involves the separation of the uterus and the placenta before the delivery process. Abruption of the placenta can be caused by abdominal trauma, maternal health issues, or the mother's unusual congenital disability.
- Fetal Distress– Fetal monitoring can determine if the baby is not doing well, like not receiving sufficient oxygen to the placenta. If left unchanged, fetal distress can cause the infant to breathe in amniotic fluid containing meconium (the baby's first bowel movement).
- Placental Disease– Placental dysfunction is often the result of a pathological change, including intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), preeclampsia, and ischemic placental disease.
- Fetal or Maternal Infection– An infection that attacks the mother, placenta, or unborn child could result in stillbirth, especially during the first and second trimester of pregnancy. Common infections that are known to compromise a pregnancy include:
- Cytomegalovirus– A herpes virus can cause severe neurological damage to the unborn child and weaken its immune system.
- Listeriosis– A foodborne-associated bacteria (Listeria monocytogenes) could invade the central nervous system (CNS) and compromise the immune system leading to brain infection (encephalitis) or meningitis.
- Fifth Disease– This common, highly contagious ailment affects children and is recognizable by its distinctive rash on the face.
- Syphilis– Congenital syphilis (Treponema palladium) is known to cause severe congenital disabilities and deformities when the fetus is exposed to the condition in utero. Surviving newborns with syphilis can experience developmental delay, jaundice, anemia, enlarged spleen, enlarged liver, fever, rash, or seizures.
- Slow Fetal Growth– The potential risk of a stillborn rises significantly if the fetus was growing too slowly.
- Fetal Abnormalities- Failing to diagnose a placental disease could lead to hypertensive disorders, infections, fetal abnormalities, or another medical condition.
- Congenital Defect– If the fetus has developed structural defects, genetic deviations, or chromosomal abnormalities, the results can be catastrophic and result in a fetus's death. Many fetuses who died during pregnancy had multiple congenital disabilities.
- Umbilical Cord Event– A minority of stillbirths result from an accident involving the placental umbilical cord that has become twisted, knotted, or has detached from the placenta, depriving the fetus of oxygen. Even healthy babies can die because of an umbilical abnormality.
- Fetal Asphyxiation– Any traumatic experience, including a vehicle accident, falling down a flight of stairs, or a problematic delivery, could deprive the child of oxygen during pregnancy or labor and lead to the baby's death.
- Extended Pregnancies– Many pregnancies taking 42 weeks or longer after conception are at an increased risk of ending with a stillbirth. Some researchers believe the increased risk of fetal death results from the placenta's inability to support the fetus.
- Maternal Medical Issues– Autoimmune conditions, including Lupus and clotting disorders, can lead to a stillbirth death.
- Delayed Cesarean Section (C-Section)– Taking too long to decide to perform a cesarean section could compromise the child's well-being and deprive the fetus of oxygen that might result in fetal death.
- Overmedicating the Mother– Administering too many drugs during pregnancy, labor, or delivery could compromise the fetus' health, resulting in death. Many medicines can reach the baby in utero through the placenta and umbilical cord.
- Defective Product– Malfunctioning baby monitors, defective ultrasound equipment, and other products could cause the child's death during pregnancy if the medical team receives the wrong information and does not detect fetal stress or abnormality.
- Negligent Prenatal Care– The negligence of an obstetrician to schedule routine checkups could be a factor in stillborn deaths if the expectant mother and fetus receive substandard care. The doctor may fail to detect an abnormality with the umbilical cord or hearing the fetus' heartbeat.
- Older Maternal Age– Many older pregnant women will have a healthy pregnancy. However, women 35 years and older have a significantly higher risk of complications that might require a cesarean section or induced labor 39 weeks into the pregnancy.
- Multiple Gestation– There are severe complications in pregnancies involving twins, triplets, or more, including the increased potential risk of stillbirth.
Who is Most at Risk?
Every expectant mother has a potential risk of a stillborn baby. However, there are significant risk factors associated with the baby's death that includes:
- Women who have experienced a previous stillbirth or had uterine growth restriction, preeclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension, or pre-term birth
- Expected mothers with chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, Lupus, blood clotting disorders, kidney disease, or thyroid disease
- Expected mothers who developed complications, including cholestasis of pregnancy (a liver disease involving bile flow caused by pregnancy hormones)
- Multiple births of twins or more
- Expected women who are 35 years or older, or 15 years and younger, are more likely to have a stillbirth than other pregnant women
- Obesity – Being overweight significantly increases the potential risk of stillbirth.
- Smoking tobacco products while pregnant can increase the expectant mother's risk of stillbirth because it restricts oxygen supplying blood flow to the unborn child
- Ethnicity – expectant African American mothers have double the risk of having a stillborn baby
- First-Time Mothers – Women experiencing their first full-term pregnancy have a higher risk of experiencing a stillborn event
- High Blood Pressure and other severe medical conditions can compromise the fetus's health, leading to premature death in utero
Expected mothers should seek immediate medical attention if they become aware that the fetus is no longer moving instead of waiting for a routine prenatal visit. The doctor can use Doppler ultrasound equipment to confirm the baby's condition and whether the heart has stopped beating.
The obstetrician or emergency room doctor may order blood tests to rule out any probable causes, including amniocentesis that can identify chromosomal issues that might have contributed to the child's premature death in utero.
Reducing the Risk of Stillborn
After the first two trimesters of pregnancy, the fetus has a better chance of survival outside of the womb (with medical care). Women most at risk can follow specific steps to reduce the risk of a stillborn birth that includes:
Women hoping to become pregnant should visit their health care provider and undergo a preconception examination. The doctor can take a comprehensive medical history to identify and treat any medical issues that might increase the potential of birthing a stillborn.
Common problems include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, kidney disease, and other conditions.
The doctor will also want to know the current medications the woman is taking and make necessary adjustments while recommending the discontinuation of herbal drugs and over-the-counter meds while pregnant.
The doctor might also recommend taking folic acid as a multivitamin or supplement before becoming pregnant to reduce a fetal neural tube genetic disability risk, including spina bifida. In addition, obese women expected to become pregnant should consider reducing their weight and following healthy weight guidelines.
Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking, and never use street drugs when pregnant. If stopping the use of drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes is complex, the healthcare provider can recommend cessation programs.
Expected mothers who believe there something wrong should seek out immediate medical attention, including if they experience vaginal bleeding after the first trimester, which might be an indicator of placental abruption. In addition, an expectant mother should ask the doctor about "kick counts" when they reached 28 weeks of pregnancy.
The doctor will help the mother identify a healthy baby based on the number of kicking sensations she feels every hour. Mothers at higher risk of stillbirth should be monitored, beginning at 32 weeks, so that the doctor can check the fetus's heart rate to determine their health based on biophysical profiles.
What Happened? Was Medical Negligence Involved?
Many families who experience a stillborn birth will be confused about what went wrong and search for answers that might be difficult to identify. The doctor may be unaware of what caused the child's death and might only be identified through an autopsy (postmortem examination) or by examining the mother's placenta or blood.
An autopsy might reveal:
- One or more causes that led to the infant's death
- How the baby was developing in the womb,
- The mother's or child's health problems
Information about how the child died can help the family decide whether to move forward with another pregnancy and what actions would be necessary to ensure a successful labor and delivery process. For example, the medical professional may recommend preconception checkups and obtaining a healthier weight before becoming pregnant.
Grieving the Child's Death
The entire family often spends years grieving the loss of a stillborn child, while the mother, father, and other siblings grieve in their unique ways. As a result, family members will often need help coping with the traumatic loss of a baby and seek out support to deal with the incredible sense of loss.
The mother usually faces additional grieving problems as her body presents constant reminders that she was once pregnant, including her breasts producing milk and vaginal bleeding that provides a particular discomfort and distress level.
Fetal Death Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Many factors can result in stillborn death, including a doctor's negligence in providing treatment, prescription medications, and the labor and delivery process. In addition, many victims who have lost a loved one through a stillbirth experience will file a lawsuit against the medical professional claiming the stillbirth was the result of medical negligence.
Sometimes, stillbirth occurs from a defective product, including a malfunctioning monitor or ultrasound device that provided inadequate information concerning fetal stress. Drivers can also be held civilly liable if their actions caused a crash that resulted in the wrongful death of the mother or baby in the womb.
An expert witness can help determine the exact cause of the stillbirth.
Personal injury attorneys can help clients recover economic and non-economic damages such as emotional distress or other emotional trauma. The defendant is obligated to pay victims when they have made a medical error that has caused the family pain and grief, as emotional damages can be considerable.
Medical negligence cases are highly complex and require the skills of stillbirth attorneys who must prove that the child's death could have been prevented had the doctor followed obvious warning signs.
Hiring an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Stillbirth Case
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understands the feelings of sadness and anger following the loss of a baby. Did you lose a child during late-term pregnancy or delivery? Tell us if you believe that it may be due to a medical professional mistake?
Our Chicago, IL, birth injury lawyers can help provide you with the information and legal advice you desire regarding medical care provided if your baby survived a childbirth injury.
Contact our experienced medical malpractice attorneys to schedule a no-obligation consultation at no charge to you. Discuss the merits of your personal injury case with an injury lawyer to ensure your family is adequately compensated for your loss.
Our legal team accepts personal injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits, and stillborn medical malpractice claims through contingency fee arrangements. This legal contract postpones the payment of legal services until after we have completed your medical malpractice claim through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict against medical professionals.
Our personal injury attorneys offer every client a "No Win/No-Fee" Guarantee, meaning if we cannot secure financial compensation on your behalf, you owe us nothing. All information you share with your experienced medical malpractice attorney will stay confidential in an attorney-client relationship.
Many medical malpractice cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the treatment and caring their child requires.