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Impacted by Necrotizing Enterocolitis and Medical Malpractice

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a potentially serious medical condition that can cause the lining of the large intestine to become damaged or inflamed. It is generally seen in premature or underweight newborns, but NEC can develop in any newborn within the first two weeks of being born. If the infection causes the bowel to become perforated, bacteria can pass into the bloodstream, causing a widespread infection. In extreme cases, an infection can develop into sepsis, which can be fatal.

In most cases, babies recover from NEC without the need for invasive medical interventions, like surgeries. However, if the condition is not diagnosed quickly and immediate treatment is not provided, NEC can quickly progress from a treatable medical condition to a devastating infection that the baby’s body is unable to fight. This situation can be worsened by knowing that it could have been prevented if the health care provider identified the condition early on and delivered standard care.

NEC is one example of a medical condition that can jeopardize the health of the baby if it is not diagnosed and treated immediately. However, there are a wide range of birth injuries that can occur during pregnancy or shortly after delivery. A skilled lawyer understands how traumatizing a birth injury is and how overwhelming the prospect of a medical malpractice lawsuit can be. A lawyer can assist their client with every step of the legal process, address all questions and concerns, and ensure that they receive their entitled financial compensation.

Practice Areas

Health care providers take an oath to “do no harm” and deliver the standard of care that is recommended for a particular medical condition. When the standard of care has been breached, the patient and their family may consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. The following practice areas are common cases that can be handled by a seasoned medical malpractice lawyer.

The Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC have successfully secured ideal outcomes for various clients who have suffered the heart-wrenching ordeal of seeing their newborn baby suffer an injury or develop a serious health condition. If a family wishes to pursue legal action because of a health care provider’s negligence, they should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Many health experts believe that babies who are formula fed may be at an increased risk for developing the disease. If a mother is unable to breastfeed, human donor milk is an alternative. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and elsewhere, premature babies who are fed human donor milk are less likely to develop NEC compared to newborns who are fed cow-based formula. Other experts suspect that a lack of oxygen or blood flow to the intestine during or immediately after birth could put the baby at an increased risk for NEC.

In order to prevent the disease from progressing, it is crucial that a health care provider recognizes the common symptoms of NEC and provides immediate medical treatment. Some of the common symptoms of NEC include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal discoloration
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Blood in the stool
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Fever
  • Green vomit that contains bile
  • Hypotension
  • Lethargy
  • Low or unstable body temperature
  • Poor feeding
  • Vomiting

The physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals responsible for the baby’s care are expected to recognize these symptoms and make a swift diagnosis. A missed diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or an incorrect diagnosis can allow the infection to spread, making it much more difficult to treat. A negligent medical error or the failure to provide the standard of medical care may be grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. A lawyer can assist the parents of the newborn who has been diagnosed with NEC. A lawyer will hold the negligent health care provider responsible for the pain they caused, and a lawyer can secure the financial compensation they deserve.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient has been injured or their health has been compromised as a result of the negligent treatment that was delivered by their health care provider. If a patient is considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is important for them to understand that just because a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional made a mistake, it does not always warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order for a claim to be considered medical malpractice, the following must be true:

  • There was a violation of the standard of care. The standard of care is the type and level of care that a health care provider with a similar background would provide under the same or similar circumstances.
  • The breach of care resulted in an injury. The patient must be able to prove that there was a breach in the standard of care and that the breach caused the injury. If there is no injury or an injury was not caused by negligence, the patient will not have a valid claim.
  • The injury resulted in damages. The patient must also be able to prove that they suffered an injury or a health complication that was caused by the health care provider’s negligent behavior.

In order to prove medical malpractice, the patient must collect as much evidence as possible, including copies of medical records, notes, and witness testimonies. In Illinois, patients are required to file an affidavit of merit as well. This document states that the plaintiff consulted with a health care professional who understands the case, currently practices in the same specialty that applies to the case, and has experience in the subject matter of the lawsuit.

Birth Injuries

There are many types of birth injuries that can occur when complications arise during a pregnancy or childbirth process. While some birth injuries are relatively minor and do not require any invasive medical procedures to correct, others are much more serious and can result in permanent physical, emotional, and cognitive deficits.

For the parents of the baby, it is devastating to find out that their child has suffered an injury that was likely preventable. Certain birth injuries are unavoidable and can occur during a difficult labor, such as if the baby is unusually large or if the size or shape of the mother’s pelvis makes a delivery more complicated. However, other preventable birth injuries occur because the health care provider failed to deliver the standard of care. The following are examples of medical negligence that can occur during pregnancy, labor, or shortly after the baby is born:

  • Delayed response to a potentially serious medical issue.
  • Failure to diagnose a medical condition, either in the mother or the baby.
  • Failure to proceed with a caesarian section or induce labor if the health or the mother or baby warrants it.
  • Failure to thoroughly discuss the potential risks or anesthesia medication.
  • Misuse of forceps, a vacuum extractor, or another medical instrument that is used to facilitate the birth process.

If a baby suffers a birth injury and the parents believe it was caused by medical negligence, it is highly recommended that they consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will protect the family’s legal rights, assist them with every step of the process, and secure the best possible settlement offer.

What Damages am I Entitled to in a Medical Malpractice Case?

NEC is a very treatable condition if it is diagnosed and treated quickly. However, it can quickly become very serious if a health care professional fails to recognize the symptoms and fails to provide the recommended treatment. A severe case of NEC may require surgery to remove the damaged portion of the intestines or bowel, and a procedure that involves draining the abdominal cavity may be needed as well. The costs associated with these procedures can accumulate very quickly. Depending on the severity of the case, the baby may need follow-up surgeries or even long-term care.

The family may be entitled to the following damages if they pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Medical expenses associated with the injury or illness
  • Loss of income for the parents
  • Pain and suffering
  • Expenses associated with long-term care
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Death benefits

The family should speak to a lawyer as soon as they suspect medical malpractice caused their baby’s injury or illness.

$3.5 Million Verdict


As medical malpractice attorneys in Jackson County, Illinois, The Cates Law Firm, LLC have dealt with various instances of negligent medical care. For example, during a new mother’s delivery, a preventable fetal distress went unnoticed by the medical staff, which resulted in a newborn suffering an anoxic brain injury. This led the family to reach out to the attorneys with The Cates Law Firm to discuss their available legal resources. By utilizing their considerable experience with medical malpractice and traumatic brain injury claims, the case was effectively argued in court, where the jury awarded a record-setting verdict of approximately $3.5 million.

The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.

Illinois Medical Malpractice Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Hold Negligent Health Care Professionals Accountable for Their Actions

If your child developed NEC or suffered a birth injury as a result of medical negligence, it is in your best interest to contact one of our compassionate Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of your case and determine whether the health care provider was negligent in any way. Our experienced legal team will protect your rights and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 618-277-3644. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve clients throughout St. Louis, Belleville, East St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo, Chester, Carbondale, St. Clair County, Madison County, Monroe County, Randolph County, and other regions throughout Southern Illinois.

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