While many babies are born healthy, some are born with significant issues that require admittance to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Newborns in the NICU are especially vulnerable to illnesses and injuries and require thorough and attentive care. Sadly, however, infants in the NICU often suffer egregious harm due to the negligence of the doctors or nurses responsible for protecting their health. If your child sustained harm due to NICU malpractice, it is advisable to consult an attorney to discuss what you can do to protect your interests and the interests of your child. At Arfaa Law Group, our Baltimore birth injury lawyers are mindful of how devastating it can be to contend with the knowledge that your newborn suffered preventable harm, and we will advocate on your behalf to help you seek a just outcome.Examples of Harm Caused by Negligent Care in the NICU
There are numerous errors that can lead to harm in the NICU. For example, errors during resuscitation or setting or monitoring a ventilator can lead to hypoxia, brain damage, and death. Similarly, if feeding or breathing tubes are not properly placed, it can cause organ damage, malnutrition, and other serious harm. Infants in the NICU are often also the victims of medication mismanagement, which can cause strokes, seizures, and brain damage. Many infants are harmed by the failure to diagnose and treat hypoglycemia, hypothermia, and jaundice.Establishing Liability for NICU Malpractice
NICU doctors and nurses, like other health care providers, owe a duty to their patients to provide competent care, and when they breach that duty and cause an infant to suffer a birth injury, they may be liable for medical malpractice. Under Maryland law, a plaintiff alleging a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider caused a birth injury typically must prove the elements of negligence to establish liability. In other words, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, the defendant’s acts or omissions constitute a breach of the duty owed, and the plaintiff suffered actual damages that were proximately caused by the breach.
In birth injury cases, the duty owed is the duty to provide treatment that meets or exceeds the standard of care, which is the care that a reasonable and competent medical professional practicing in the same specialty would provide in a similar situation. In the majority of birth injury cases, the plaintiff must retain an expert to offer an opinion regarding the standard of care that the defendant was obligated to comply with and to explain how the defendant’s behavior constituted a departure from the standard of care. Expert testimony is also needed to establish how the defendant’s breach of the duty to provide competent care caused the plaintiff’s harm.Damages Available in NICU Malpractice Cases
When a child suffers harm at birth, both the child and the child’s parents may be able to recover damages. A parent may be able to recover the cost of past medical treatment as well as the cost of the treatment the child will need up until the age of majority, while the child may be awarded the cost of any medical treatment he or she will need as an adult. If the child is not able to work in the future, he or she may be awarded damages for lost wages. Additionally, a parent may be able to recover compensation for emotional distress, while the child may be awarded damages for the pain and suffering caused by his or her harm. Generally, birth injury claims must be filed within three years of the date of harm. It is important to note, however, that the statute of limitations on a child’s claims does not begin to run until the child’s eighteenth birthday.Meet with a Birth Injury Attorney in Baltimore
Parents rely on NICU doctors and nurses to keep their newborns safe. When a newborn in the NICU suffers harm due to incompetent care, it can have catastrophic consequences. If your child suffered injuries in the NICU, the birth injury lawyers of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your available recourse and assist you in pursuing any damages you and your child may be able to recover. We frequently assist families in birth injury matters in Baltimore, where we have an office. We can be reached through our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to schedule a meeting.