Medical malpractice lawsuit proceeds in death of pre-viable child

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Mar 14, 2012 in Doctor Errors

The death of a baby or child due to the negligence of doctors or medical staff is always a tragic event. Today, some states are going a step further in holding doctors accountable for deaths that occur in utero.

One state's Supreme Court recently overturned a lower court decision, ruling parents are allowed to sue doctors for medical malpractice and wrongful death when it's determined their negligence caused the death of an unborn and pre-viable fetus. This ruling is among many recent court decisions around the country aiming to protect the legal rights of an unborn child and means of restitution for the parents.

The ruling stems from a 2005 case in which a pregnant woman visited her doctor for a routine ultrasound and checkup related to a viral infection. Upon arriving, the woman was told that both the doctor and ultrasound technician were busy and to come back in two week. She attempted to be seen and have the ultrasound twice, but was denied on both occasions.

After a month, an ultrasound was performed at which time the technician became alarmed at the fetus' small size and an unusual neck fold. The doctor told the woman to wait a few weeks and that the condition would to resolve on its own. She later returned to her doctor's office feeling ill at which time an ultrasound detected that the fetus was no longer alive.

The woman asserts that the doctor's negligence caused the death of her unborn child and is suing for damages citing medical malpractice and wrongful death. The state's Supreme Court recently ruled that the death of a pre-viable fetus is admissible under the Wrongful Death Act.

This case may lead to similar rulings around the country and in states like West Virginia. Parents who have lost an unborn child as a result of a doctor's negligent action or inaction may want to seek legal advice.

Source: American Medical Association, "Alabama doctors can be sued for death of unborn, pre-viable child," Alicia Gallegos, Mar. 12, 2012

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