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Question

Can I sue my doctor / physician for medical malpractice if my child was born with cerebral palsy or some type of birth trauma in Massachusetts?

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Answered by: Russell X. Pollock

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Doctors (also called physicians), like most other professionals such as lawyers, architects and accountants, owe a duty of care to their patient. When a doctor’s conduct falls below the level of care expected of the average qualified physician practicing in that specialty in that timeframe, the doctor is “negligent” or commits “medical malpractice.” In order to bring an action against a doctor, aside from proving the doctor was negligent, you must be able to prove you or a loved one suffered harm and that the negligence is what caused that harm.

Cerebral palsy and other types of birth traumas can occur in a variety of ways. For example:

  • An obstetrician, nurse or midwife fails to identify concerning fetal heart tracings, which require immediate cesarean delivery and the baby is deprived of oxygen, resulting in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, periventricular leukomalacia and cerebral palsy.
  • An Ob/Gyn, nurse or midwife fails to identify that the umbilical cord is around the baby’s neck or is prolapsed (preceding the baby through the birth canal) and likewise the baby is deprived of oxygen.
  • A doctor, nurse or midwife performs an unskillful forceps delivery or vacuum extraction causing physical trauma to the baby’s skull and brain.
  • A doctor, nurse or midwife fails to treat the mother with appropriate antibiotics resulting in the baby acquiring meningitis or another type of infection resulting in devastating injuries.
  • A doctor, nurse or midwife fails to take adequate precautions to prevent premature delivery, especially with a high-risk pregnancy or history of incompetent cervix, resulting in prematurity causing cerebral palsy or other traumatic injuries.
  • A doctor, nurse or midwife fails to properly deliver a baby with shoulder dystocia causing damage to the brachial plexus nerves or death.

If your baby has suffered severe injuries or death and you have concerns about the manner of the delivery and the level of care you and the baby received from a doctor, nurse, midwife or other medical care provider, look for an attorney who specifically handles medical malpractice actions, since they are unique and complex cases. Also, do not delay in speaking with a lawyer since like most actions, an action for medical malpractice must be brought within a certain amount of time.

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Can I sue my lawyer or attorney for legal malpractice in Massachusetts?

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