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Negligence in Prenatal Care

Doctor and Pregnant WomanPrenatal care is just as critical a component of bringing a pregnancy to term as a successful labor. However, it is sadly not uncommon for negligence to occur, and it is important to be able to identify unprofessional or potentially actionable conduct. Your health and that of your baby can hinge on a doctor’s failure to act.

Examples of Negligent Prenatal Care

When discussing medical malpractice in a pregnancy context, most people focus on errors made during childbirth. However, negligence during the period of prenatal care can be just as damaging to the welfare of mother and child as a botched caesarean section or improper administration of medication. Failure to diagnose is a big part of this branch of malpractice. In fact, a 2013 study found that in vetting malpractice claims from the U.S., Australia, France and Canada, failure to diagnose was the most common reason for bringing suit (between 26 percent and 63 percent of the time).

Though not all failures to diagnose conditions in mother or fetus are actionable, some absolutely are. Importantly, one of the most common reasons for fetal complications is a failure to diagnose certain diseases or conditions in the mother. The occasions in which this happens most often involve potentially dangerous conditions like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and anemia, all of which can increase the possibility of miscarriage. It may also occur as a failure to identify birth defects in the fetus, or conditions that might lead to birth defects, such as neural tube abnormalities (which cause spina bifida and anencephaly, among other conditions) and congenital heart defects.

Who Is Owed a Duty of Care?

Negligence, the legal theory on which medical malpractice centers, requires that a case be based at least partly on the existence of a duty of care toward the person injured and a breach of that duty. However, the first thing one must ask in cases involving pregnancy-related malpractice is to whom the duty of care is owed. Jurisprudence generally holds that the duty is owed toward the mother, though any injury to the fetus through medical negligence is also going to cause significant damage to the mother, at least in theory.

If the mother has sustained damages due to the breach of the doctor’s duty of care, and can prove the damage was directly caused by medical negligence, she ought to succeed in her suit most of the time, even if the actual physical injury was caused to the fetus. If the negligence of the medical professional is extreme, she may also have a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED), which is still a valid cause of action in California, though not in most other states.

Seek Experienced Legal Advice

If you or your newborn has been the victim of medical negligence, you are likely confused, upset and in need of help. The compassionate and experienced San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. are well versed in the technicalities of malpractice law, and we will do our best to ensure you and your family get a chance to receive the compensation you need to get back on your feet. Contact our office today to discuss your options. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Alameda, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Benito.

Client Reviews
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My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.