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Negligence in the Delivery Room

Mistakes made during the delivery of a newborn can be especially devastating for the long-term health of the child and the emotional wellbeing of the parents. The delivery process involves many steps during which mistakes may be made by doctors and other hospital staff:

  • Anesthesia administered to the mother during labor or in connection with a cesarean birth can lead to numerous complications that require immediate response.
  • Hospital staff handle the baby at various stages, including at the delivery itself and for post-delivery baths, weigh-ins, and so on.
  • Newborns may require special care after delivery to address common problems like fluid in the lungs (common after C-section births) or misshapen skulls. Children born early may require significantly more intervention.

In Nevada professional negligence is the most common cause of action for serious mistakes made in the delivery room. Professional negligence, defined and governed by NRS Chapter 41A, covers the kind of mistakes that one might ordinarily think of as “medical malpractice.” It can be brought against a licensed provider of health care, such as a doctor, for his or her failure “to use reasonable care, skill, or knowledge ordinarily used under similar circumstances by similarly trained and experienced providers of health care.” NRS 41A.015.

Among other things, a plaintiff in a professional negligence case needs to provide the court with an affidavit of an expert in the defendant’s field attesting to the negligence of the defendant. For example, if the defendant is an anesthesiologist who improperly administered pain medication to the mother and caused complications with the birth as a result, the plaintiff will need to find another anesthesiologist willing to analyze the facts of the case and provide sworn written testimony affirming that the defendant’s actions didn’t meet professional standards. Professionals throughout the medical field supplement their income by serving as expert witnesses in this capacity.

Damages in professional negligence lawsuits can include reimbursement for costs associated with remedial medical care, which in some cases may go on for many years. Plaintiffs may also be able to recover compensation for other costs related to the injury, such as a parent’s lost earnings as a consequence of taking extended time off work to care for an injured child. Nevada law caps noneconomic damages, such as for a child’s pain and suffering or a parent’s emotional distress, at $350,000. NRS 41A.035. Parents should note that they have three years from the date of the injury, or one year from the injury’s discovery, to file a civil claim in Nevada for professional negligence. NRS 41A.097(2).

In the most tragic circumstances, where a hospital’s negligence leads to the death of the infant, parents may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is still based on the negligence of the defendant, but unlike professional negligence a wrongful death claim is not subject to damages caps with respect to noneconomic damages like the plaintiff’s grief or the pain and suffering of the infant.

The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in personal injury and professional negligence cases. If you have suffered harm during the delivery of a child please feel free to reach out to us today for a no-cost attorney consultation. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.