This article continues our series on birth injury lawsuits in Oklahoma.
When a parent experiences something as traumatic and life changing as a birth injury to a new born child, their mind becomes filled with unanswered questions and anxiety.
How did this happen? What went wrong? Was it because they scheduled the induction too early? Did it have anything to do with what was said prenatal check up? What about the way this nurse asked the doctor a question?
There are so many unanswered questions, a parent will feel overwhelmed, and may not even know where to start. Was this the doctors fault? The nurse’s fault? Is the hospital to blame? Is it my fault? Or is this a natural occurrence outside of anybody’s control.
One way to get answers is to consult with a birth injury lawyer about your situation. An attorney experienced in this area will be able to review certain documents, and consult with experts, to begin to get answers for you and your family. But it may take some time before anything is clear.
Hiring Experts for the birth injury consultation process
At any time if you have questions about your child’s injury, or about liability related to the labor and delivery, you may contact our office for a free consultation.
What we do is gather the hospital documentation and review it with a qualified expert in that area of medicine. Our expert will tell us if they have enough information to suspect negligence, or if more information is needed.
The first step is obtaining all of the medical records from the hospital. There are many different types of records, such as intake and admission paperwork; nurses notes; fetal heart-rate monitoring; and other types of documents such as x-ray or MRI images. Some documentations are in a narrative format, where a nurse or doctor explains what they saw and how they reacted. Other types of documents are charts and graphs that require an expert to read.
Without having medical training, an ordinary person, including a lawyer or judge, will not be able to know whether or not there is medical malpractice from looking at these documents. An expert is required to review these in order to render an opinion. However, experienced medical malpractice lawyers who have handled similar cases may be quicker to identify issues that an expert would want to review.
Why Experts are Required in Birth Injury Cases in Oklahoma
Oklahoma law requires expert witnesses in any case that involves issues of specialized knowledge, training or skill, such as medicine. Without medical school training, and without training and experience working in a hospital, it is impossible to know what the correct procedures should be during labor and delivery.
You will need experts to identify the specific actions, or failures, of the doctor and hospital staff. These failures of professional performance will not be readily obvious to untrained people. In fact, neither you or your lawyer will necessarily know or understand what went wrong. It would be impossible without years of education and training.
But a good lawyer doesn’t need to know — he only needs to ask the right experts, and be able to afford to hire those experts.
As an example of how expert witnesses are critical, take the case of a hypoxic brain injury to a newborn baby in an Oklahoma hospital. After the baby is born, the hospital and doctor will know that something is wrong, but may not communicate it immediately. At some point, there will be communication that the baby has brain damage.
Is this someone’s fault? Did a person cause this injury? Or is this genetic? Impossible for a non-expert to know the answers.
However, a doctor of obstetrics will be able to review the hospital files and will look for evidence of malpractice. The doctor may review the fetal heart rate tracing, and look for patterns of concern. A healthy pattern would be one of good variability – a zig zag pattern on the chart. A concerning pattern would be a lack of variability — flat pattern – or one with deep, late decelerations or accelerations.
A pattern of late decelerations in fetal heart rate could be evidence of lack of oxygen. A baby has an oxygen reserve, and can handle these variations. But if the pattern persists, it could be traumatic.
None of this is information which a lay person is competent to review or analyze. Which is why you must hire the best expert witnesses for your birth injury case. Travis Charles Smith prioritizes hiring the best experts, as the case literally depends on it.
Expert witnesses are required to calculate financial compensation in birth injury cases
You will also need other types of experts to explain the damages. The purpose of a lawsuit is to recover financial compensation. The compensation is needed because of on-going future medical treatment, in addition to the past trauma suffered of the injuries.
Because birth injury lawsuits are brought by the child, and the claim belongs to the child, everything is from the child’s perspective.
The child is entitled to compensation for her pain and suffering, past and future, as well as for future medical care. A disabled child may need years or decades of various treatments and therapies, medical devices, even alterations to the home environment, such as wheelchair access.
Therefore, it is critically important to calculate all of these damages over the course of the child’s life. And that requires experts who specialize in these types of computations.
The good news is that an experienced birth injury lawyer will be able to assist with retaining these types of experts, in order to achieve the greatest settlement or judgment possible in the case.
Hiring the right lawyer for your Birth Injury case in Oklahoma
To contact Travis Charles Smith and his office staff, send us an email or call (405) 724-8112.
Travis Charles Smith has been practicing law since 2009, and has represented many plaintiffs, including parents of injured children. Travis believes in listening the client, gathering all the evidence, and hiring the best experts possible. By hiring the best experts, and getting extremely organized and prepared in the beginning phases, Travis is able to work cases quickly toward a positive outcome for the client.