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Family sues federal government over birth injury

May 1, 2017 | Birth Injuries

New York residents who are harmed as a result of medical malpractice may file a lawsuit against the at-fault facility or practitioner. This is true even if the lawsuit is against the federal government when it has funded a health care facility. Although lawsuits against the federal government are normally prohibited, they are permitted in a case of medical malpractice under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

In Pennsylvania, the government was on the wrong end of a $41.6 million verdict in a case that involved a baby who suffered permanent brain damage after a doctor misused forceps. Experts testified at the trial that the mid-forceps delivery was an approach that should only be used in emergencies and that forceps could damage the brain stem and cerebellum, fracture the skull and result in brain bleeds. According to the lawsuit, the doctor used excessive force while misapplying the forceps to the baby’s head.

When suing the federal government in connection with a medical malpractice suit, it is necessary to notify the responsible agency within two years of discovering the injury. The agency then has six months to respond, and there is a six-month period in which the lawsuit can be filed. These deadlines and procedures are strict, and failure to follow them may result in dismissal. The federal government cannot be sued for punitive damages.

When a person files a medical malpractice lawsuit related to a birth injury, the court will need to decide whether there was obstetric negligence or negligence on the part of another medical professional. This means that the court recognizes that in some cases, a birth injury may occur despite the best efforts of medical personnel. However, if it can be proved that a mother and child did not receive a reasonable standard of care, then the medical malpractice lawsuit might be successful.