Who can be sued in a birth injury case?

When you or a loved gets admitted to the hospital, for whatever reason, it's reasonable to expect that you will come out of the place in better shape than when you entered. Most of the time, that's exactly what happens. But there are times in nearly every medical facility in Massachusetts when something goes wrong.

When the medical condition involves childbirth and the result is a birth injury, the fair question to ask is whether mother and child received a proper standard of care. If that came up short due to any medical team member or because of a shortcoming in hospital policy, the responsible party or the hospital itself might be named as defendants in efforts to obtain compensation and justice for the victims.

And, to be clear, there are always multiple victims where birth injuries are concerned. The newborn is the person who suffers directly. Indirectly, the parents and extended family are all affected too. If the birth injury involves brain or organ damage, it can mean challenges for the whole family for a lifetime.

Another reason many parents consider civil action for a birth injury is to ensure that the person responsible for the error is held professionally accountable so that no other family suffers the same fate. Unfortunately, as a case out of Florida displays, that doesn't always happen.

In this matter, it was alleged that the child suffered permanent brain damage because the doctor doing the delivery was more focused on talking with his stockbroker than monitoring the condition of the mother and child. The fetus went into distress. Experts testified that the standard of care called for performing a Cesarean section. The doctor didn't perform the procedure, but then modified the record to say that the mother had refused it.

Last month, a federal judge ruled the doctor had failed to deliver the proper standard of care and ordered an award of nearly $34 million for the lifetime care of the brain damaged child. But it's not the doctor who must pay the bill. Because the hospital is a federally funded community center, the U.S. government is liable for payment.

The doctor doesn't work there anymore, but he reportedly isn't slated to even face disciplinary action against his medical license.