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Who can be sued in a birth injury case?

The birth of a child is one of the most exciting times for couples. The child has been joyfully anticipated for months and in most cases the birth is expected to go as planned with no complications. But what happens when something goes wrong and there are birth injuries? What if this precious child now suffers from a physical disability or infection because of birth trauma? Who needs to be held responsible for the negligence?

In birth injury cases the responsible party does not always have to be the doctor who delivered the baby. It can also include anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare facilities. In the case of hospitals, they can be held both directly liable for negligence and vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees. A hospital can be held directly liable if they are found to not have provided enough nurses, negligent supervision of its employees, failure to follow orders of an attending physician and failing to protect a patient from harm.

A hospital may be held vicariously liable if one of its employees is found to hurt a patient. If the physician is an independent contractor working at the hospital then the hospital cannot be held vicariously liable, but could be held directly liable due to allowing an incompetent physician to treat patients in their facility.

Pharmaceutical companies may also be held liable in birth injury cases if they failed to warn physicians of the potential side effects of a drug. If the manufacturer fails to warn a physician about the possible dangerous side effect then the drug becomes "unreasonably dangerous" and the manufacturer can be held liable.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Responsible parties in birth injury cases: Who can be sued?," accessed on Aug. 11, 2014

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