Birth injuries often come with a lifetime of steep costs

The field of obstetrics is getting better all the time. Doctors are increasingly able to detect risks and problems well before a baby is born and intervene early to avoid birth injuries and delivery complications.

Because obstetrics is now so advanced, it is particularly heartbreaking when babies are born with birth defects due to the negligence of a physician. A recently decided court case highlights this problem. While the case didn’t happen here in Ohio, it is an example of a problem that could occur anywhere.

According to news reports, jurors in Mississippi awarded a mother $2.6 million to compensate for her son’s severe brain injuries. Months before the boy’s birth in early 2012, a sonogram revealed that the fetus had growth restrictions. This should have been an indication that more intervention was needed. The woman’s attorneys say that the physician should have referred the woman to a specialist, or at least monitored the pregnancy until the baby was born. He took neither action.

When the boy was born, he suffered catastrophic and permanent brain injuries which included a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. The boy is now 8 years old and is only expected to live until age 25. Because of his injuries, he is unable to walk, talk or eat on his own.

From an outsider’s perspective, a $2.6 million verdict seems inadequate in light of the severity of the injuries and the costs associated with the boy’s care. Birth injuries not only significantly decrease a person’s quality of life, they also place a huge lifetime burden on the family in terms of finances and logistics.

Not all birth injuries can be detected and prevented, but a great many can be. Parents who have children with birth defects will rightly want to press for answers as to how they happened and whether the could/should have been avoided.