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Who can be held accountable for a birth injury?

If asked who should be held accountable for a birth injury, what would you say? Many people in Kentucky and elsewhere would likely say the doctor. While this can be true, the doctor is often not the only party responsible for a birth injury.

Most of the parties involved in the care of the mother or the birth of the child can play a role in a birth injury. These parties include the hospital itself, anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmaceutical companies and others. In today's post, we will explain how each of these parties can be responsible for a birth injury.

Negligence is often the most obvious when it comes from those in direct contact with the mother or child. When a nurse, doctor, anesthesiologist or other health care provider commits an error that harmed the child, he or she can be held responsible through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Less obvious, however, is the hospital's role in a birth injury. There are several ways a hospital can be liable for an injury. First is through its hiring practices. If a hospital fails to conduct a thoroughly review an employee's history or credentials and it is found that the employee had a clear blemish in his or her record, for example, the hospital may be held responsible for negligent hiring.

Next, a hospital can be held accountable for failing to operate in a way that ensures patients' safety. Hospitals must keep good records, ensure proper communication between employees, perform necessary tests, and discharge and admit patients according to their needs. Hospitals are also responsible for being appropriately staffed. If an injury is the result of understaffing, the hospital may be liable.

Finally, hospitals may be held responsible for the actions of their employees. Known as vicarious liability, a hospital can be sued if a negligent employee was on the job when the negligent act occurred. Some doctors are independent contractors, which can make it more difficult -- but not impossible -- to include the hospital in the malpractice lawsuit.

Finally, pharmaceutical companies can be responsible for a birth injury if the injury was caused by the side effects of a drug that were not made clear to the physician.

As you can see, doctors are not the only ones who can be held responsible for a birth injury. However, each situation is unique, so it is important to speak with an attorney to determine who may be liable in your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Responsible Parties in Birth Injury Cases: Who Can Be Sued?" Accessed June 2, 2015

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