4 Steps to Take If You Suspect Your Newborn Suffered a Birth Injury
Perhaps you’ve been up all night in the NICU attending your newborn and worrying about her future and health. Or maybe a pediatrician just diagnosed an abnormality that you suspect was caused by treatment your baby received at the hospital. In either case, you’re likely feeling a cocktail of emotions, including anger about possible negligence, confusion over what to do next, and concern over how best to care for your child.
Here are four strategies to help you preserve your right to hold a caregiver (or medical institution) accountable for damage caused by bad care.
1. Obtain as much documentation related to the injury as you can.
For instance, the hospital’s obstetric team probably generated paperwork associated with particular medical procedures performed during the birth. If you don’t have those records, call the appropriate offices and obtain them. In addition, record your own observations and thoughts about what happened. Journaling your observations may be quite useful not only for legal purposes but also for medical purposes, because they can give you and your doctors insight into what really happened to your child and what might be done about it.
2. Ask questions from medical providers, and take good notes.
Canvas anyone who might have been present or involved in the birth. For instance, maybe your doula saw the nurse ignoring a rapid heartbeat on the monitor. Or perhaps a junior obstetrician on your team disagreed with your primary physician’s decision to opt for a C-section or to use Pitocin during the process. Get these accounts written down and recorded as early as possible, since human memory is notoriously porous. Again, such evidence can serve double-duty: it can help build your case and also assist with future care for your child.
3. Ensure that your child gets the absolute best quality of care right now.
If your newborn is still at the hospital or in the care of a doctor that you suspect might have behaved in a negligent or careless fashion, you might ask for a second opinion or even take the baby to another hospital for evaluation. Be assertive about your rights as a parent. If you don’t understand why your doctor is suggesting a certain procedure, speak up, and record any answers you get.
4. Consult with an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible, against all else.
Taking care of a newborn is challenging even under the best of circumstances. If you’re taking care of a sick newborn, you’re likely very distracted, and you may lack the bandwidth to deal with any “legal business” right now. If that’s the case, consider deputizing a parent or close friend to help with the process. Finding a qualified attorney to advocate for your rights can be essential for at least three reasons. First off, the attorney can provide peace of mind. Second of all, the attorney can help preserve critical evidence that might otherwise disappear or be forgotten that could be crucial to your obtaining compensation. Third, the attorney, through his or her investigation, can alert you to problems with the baby’s current care, so that you can resolve them before they cause additional harm.