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Who can be held responsible when a baby is injured during birth?

If a baby is injured during his or her delivery, the effects can last the rest of his or her life. This is why physicians and hospital staff need to be exceptionally careful when helping a woman give birth. When something does go wrong and a baby is born with severe injuries, New Mexico's laws may allow the parents to seek compensation from those at fault.

In this particular type of medical malpractice lawsuit, parents can hold several parties responsible for their child's injuries, including the doctor, the hospital, other hospital staff workers, other health-care providers, pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment manufacturers. They must, however, establish their claims of negligence in court if they are to win compensation.

Hospitals can be held liable in two cases: direct negligence by the hospital, and vicarious liability for negligence on the part of its staff. Direct hospital negligence means a medical care provider was negligent in meeting its responsibility for ensuring that doctors, nurses, assistants and so on were adequately trained and that enough staff was available to meet the patient's needs. In addition, federal statutes require hospitals to provide proper medical care regardless of a patient's race, color, religion or nationality. Failure to do so can be considered negligence by a court.

If the plaintiff can show that an infant was injured due to hospital staff negligence, then the hospital can be held vicariously liable under respondeat superior doctrine, which ensures that there is a financially responsible party that can compensate the plaintiff. Because doctors are often independent contractors, the respondeat superior doctrine may or may not apply.

In the event a birth injury was caused by a drug or defective medical equipment, parents can hold the pharmaceutical company or equipment manufacturer responsible for the injury, although the plaintiffs must show that this party failed to warn the presiding doctor about potential dangers.

Source: FindLaw, "Responsible Parties in Birth Injury Cases: Who Can Be Sued?" accessed on Jan. 28, 2015

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