Birth hospital/doctor issues

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Birth hospital/doctor issues

In August 2017 my wife gave birth to our daughter at a hospital in North Carolina. She had a normal pregnancy with no risks identified. Immediately after birth, we were told in a most unprofessional manner that our daughter had a cleft palate. After the initial shock, we were told it’s a fairly common issue and can be fixed so we were not too concerned. For the next 3 days our stay at the hospital was a nightmare. The doctors and nurses were trying to force my wife to breast feed even though we later learned that babies with cleft palate’s can’t. Over those few days our daughter lost weight, failed hearing tests and showed oxygen issues which were all told is normal. They sent us home with our beautiful baby girl that we later found out was struggling to survive. Over the next few days at home the nightmare continued. She was not able to eat with the various methods presented by doctors. We made multiple trips back to our pediatricians office after episodes where she appeared to have breathing issues and continued losing weight. Each trip we were told that everything was normal and fine other than the cleft palate and not to worry. After another episode where it appeared she was having issues breathing, we said enough is enough and called an ENT specialist. They heard our story and finally someone did and scheduled an immediate appointment. Within the first 30 minutes of being there the doctor diagnosed our daughter with Pierre Robin Syndrome. This is rare condition where her lower jaw was underdeveloped hence her tongue was essentially blocking her airway especially during feeding. We rushed off to a different much better hospital where we spent the next two weeks in pediatric intensive care. After multiple sleepless nights, multiple surgeries and thousands of dollars in medical bills it appears our daughter now 1.5 years old is on a good track which we will be forever grateful to the doctors/hospital who actually listened to our concerns, made a proper diagnosis and put a plan in place. Her hopefully last surgery was 2 months ago and now the dust has finally settled we’re wondering if we should do more to address the systematic failures that led to delayed diagnosis and struggles. I will be clear that we are not seeking lots of other than something to re-coup some of the medical bills, however my main point of even thinking of legal action is to make sure another couple does not have to experience what we did. This is not a matter of what the birth hospital and doctors did to as this condition was not preventable but more of what they failed to do to get her the proper care. Is this something that we should pursue?

Asked on May 8, 2019 under Malpractice Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The statute of limitations, or time within which you must start or file, a medical malpractice suit in your state (NC) is three years, so at two years later, you are still in time to sue. What you describe seems like it may well be malpractice: medical care that was negligent (unreasonably careless) or not up to the-current standards (since the 2nd hospital caught it, there is no reason the first should not have). Based on what you write, it would be well worth your while to consult with a medical malpractice attorney about this situation, and good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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