Having a baby can be one of the most exciting times in your life. Finding out your child has been diagnosed with a heart defect that may require surgery can quickly turn something exciting into a serious and scary situation. Pediatric heart surgeries are complex procedures that require the utmost care and skill. While many surgeries go as planned, it’s an unfortunate truth that accidents happen, and lives can be ended much too soon. If your child has suffered as a result of a negligent surgeon, our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers are here for you.
Discovering you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice is always shocking; however, when you realize your child is the one who has been harmed, the situation is likely to be even more difficult and stressful. When healthcare professionals are reckless or careless, they should be held accountable for their actions. Our lawyers have the years of experience needed to do just that.
Infant Heart Defects: Facts and Statistics
When a baby is born with a congenital heart defect there’s often no known reason for it and little time to act. When doctors act quickly and provide the required standard of care, there are many heart defects that are repaired, and those infants go on to lead long, healthy lives. When a doctor misses obvious signs or makes a surgical error, the consequences can be deadly.
Heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, affecting nearly one percent of all births per year. Of the babies diagnosed with a heart defect, 25 percent are found to have a critical congenital heart defect. Those babies will need surgery or other corrective procedures within the first year of life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5,965 infants are born with a congenital heart defect every year in the United States. When the defect is detected is crucial for the child’s recovery and quality of life. Of the nearly 6,000 children born with this condition, 1,800 are prenatally diagnosed, 2,410 have a timely postnatal diagnosis within three days of birth, and 1,755 infants are diagnosed late.
When the diagnosis is late, there may be grounds for medical malpractice if the defect could have been detected with the proper testing.
Risks and Complications Associated with Pediatric Heart Surgery
Heart surgery is a serious procedure that is generally only discussed when the potential benefits outweigh the risks. It’s important to fully understand the risks and possible complications associated with pediatric heart surgery so you know what to expect before, during, and after your child’s procedure.
The risks a child faces varies on a case by case basis; however, there are certain factors to take into consideration with each case:
- The child’s age
- The type of heart defect
- The child’s health and condition
- The type of surgery required
- Additional medical conditions
Your child’s doctor will be able to review the risks with you to determine what the best course of action is. If the heart surgery does take place, there are a number of complications that could arise, that could potentially result from negligence:
- Bleeding. There is approximately a two percent chance a transfusion will be needed during the operation.
- Infection. Infections can set in around the surgical site if the equipment was not properly sterilized or the wound was not properly dressed.
- Brain Damage. While rare, if the patient is not monitored properly and does not receive proper blood flow to the brain or oxygen levels, there’s a chance brain damage could occur.
- Nerve Damage. Depending on the surgery, the nerves leading to the diaphragm or vocal chords could be damaged.
- Kidney Failure. This issue is more common in newborns and is generally recoverable with dialysis.
- Effects on the Heart. While the surgeon’s goal is to repair the child’s heart, there is the possibility the condition could be made worse. The surgery could weaken the heart, damage the valves, or require the insertion of a permanent pacemaker.
If your child has undergone pediatric heart surgery and suffered complications, the right lawyer can help you determine if the medical staff acted negligently and caused the problems.
Pediatric Heart Surgery and Medical Negligence
It can be a long, complicated process to prove medical malpractice or negligence; however, it’s likely essential in order for you to provide your child with the medical care they may need. In addition to the benefit of compensation, medical professionals should be held accountable for their negligent actions, especially when a newborn has been injured or died as a result of those actions.
To prove medical malpractice, it needs to be shown that there was a doctor-patient relationship that required the standard of care to be followed, that standard was breached, the patient suffered an injury, and the injury was directly related to the breach.
Contacting an attorney can significantly improve your chances of successfully seeking justice. At Shrager & Sachs, we will review and investigate your case, determine who the liable parties are, advise you of your rights and options, and help you gather the necessary evidence to prove your child was harmed.
We understand how difficult a time it is when you have to watch your child undergo medical procedures. In the event your child is harmed, we will do whatever it takes to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. Contact our office today for more information.