In the State of Florida, Statute 766.102 establishes the definition of medical negligence. In Florida, a tort claim, or civil lawsuit, may arise from medical negligence when a care provider’s services fall below a prevailing professional standard of care. The negligence must have caused an adverse outcome to be actionable in court. Birth injuries are a frequent adverse outcome which results in medical malpractice claims.
Florida Vital Statistics report 212,954 live births in the state in 2012. Infant mortality data from the Florida Health Department reports 5.46 infant deaths per 1,000 births. Birth injuries can be fatal, or can cause serious harm to an infant and mother. Common birth injuries include Cerebral Palsy; Caput succedaneum, or scalp swelling; broken bones; subconjunctival hemorrhaging; Bell’s Palsy, or damage to the facial nerves; brachial plexus injury, which affects arm movement and can cause permanent nerve damage; and brain damage or death due to oxygen deprivation.
Birth injuries may have myriad causes, including inadequate prenatal care; failure to monitor fetal heartbeat; improper use of vacuum or forceps; or failure to intervene in prolonged and difficult labor.
If a birth injury to mother or baby is attributed to a care provider’s failure to provide an appropriate professional level of care, parents may pursue a claim for damages on behalf of the baby and family. Claims may arise due to acts and due to omissions. Cerebral Palsy.org reports average lifetime costs to a family of $1.014 million if a baby suffers mental retardation due to a birth injury. Damages for medical malpractice involving birth injuries can be substantial.