One of the most important (and first) steps of good obstetric procedure is dating the pregnancy.
Once a pregnancy is dated, then other important dates of the pregnancy are determined and prenatal care is scheduled accordingly. For instance, let's say a doctor mistakenly thinks a 24 week pregnancy is actually a 23 week pregancy, and he treats the mother and baby accordingly. This is critical - and we have handled a DC medical malpractice case against a hospital in Washington, D.C. just lke this - because 24 weeks is considered viability (the age at which a baby can live outside the womb). Obviously, this will be critical for good obstetrical medical care and management.
Premature babies are more likely to have developmental delays and sometimes significant health problems, but there are medical interventions that can reduce these risks.
In our case, a well known obstetrician didn't correctly date the pregnancy. But the hospital's mistake was not having a system in place to make sure a simple but vital piece of medical information was checked. Any intern or resident could have checked the dates and correctly calculated the number of weeks - but no one did. Every doctor and nurse just wrote down the incorrect number because someone else had.
Unfortunately, with inadequate prenatal care, birth injuries are more likely. In fact, mothers who receive the best prenatal care are more likely to have heatlhy pregnancies and healthy children in the long run. So, it's important to make sure prenatal care offered to pregnant mothers is adequate.
One simple mistake like this can compound and it could mean injury for baby and mother - it may also mean medical malpractice in some cases. When an experienced obstetrician dates the pregnancy wrong because he was rushing, wasn't listening, or because of simple miscalculations, and no one else bothers to check it, both baby and mother can suffer.
Especially if a miscalculated due date was never checked by others on the team - by residents, fellows, interns, and nurses - then you may have a case for system wide failure that led to your baby's injury.
But, remember, every case is different and only an experienced attorney can give you advice for you. Give us a call at 202-393-3320 if you think you may be dealing with medical malpractice that caused cerebral palsy, developmental delays or other birth injury.