For pregnant women with HIV or AIDS, impeccable prenatal care is essential in order decrease the risk of the baby contracting HIV/AIDS. When obstetricians don’t take proper preventive measures or fail to test the mother for HIV/AIDS early in pregnancy, the baby is far more likely to contact the devastating illness.
Measures to Prevent HIV/AIDS Transmission to Infants
The National Institutes of Health's website, AIDSinfo, explains that there are several important measures that can be taken in order to reduce the risk of an infant contracting HIV/AIDS from an infected mother.
- Testing - In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations, all pregnant women should be tested for HIV/AIDS as early as possible in the pregnancy.
- Preventative medicines - There are certain HIV medicines on the market that physicians should recommend to HIV-positive mothers-to-be. These antiretroviral drugs reduce the viral load in the mother and lessen the amount of virus to which the fetus is exposed. Furthermore, the baby will absorb some of the medication through the placenta, and it will serve to protect the baby from infection.
- Cesarean section - Having a scheduled C-section in lieu of a vaginal birth might reduce the risk of infection.
- Bottle-feeding - Given that HIV/AIDS is transmitted through body fluids, it’s ill-advised to breastfeed when the mother is infected.
- Post-birth medication - Infants born to HIV-positive mothers should be given HIV medications for six months to reduce the risk of infection.
Heath Care Provider Liability
Doctors are not always at fault when an infant contracts a contagious disease from its mother. Sometimes, transmission still occurs despite having taken all possible precautions. However, if the physician, pediatrician or other health care provider didn’t take all reasonable and necessary steps to prevent mother-to-child HIV/AIDS transmission, i.e., he or she failed to uphold a standard of care, the provider may be civilly liable for the damages.
Below are a few examples of actions that might make a provider liable.
- Failing to administer an HIV/AIDS test (Some women may not know that they are infected.)
- Not providing anti-HIV medication
- Prescribing the wrong medication that could cause fetal harm
Can you sue for your child’s illness?
If your child contracted HIV/AIDS, you might have grounds for a lawsuit if you and your attorney can prove the following.
- Breach of duty - The physician acted negligently in some manner, in a way that differs from the way other physicians in the same position would have acted.
- Causation - You’ll need to be able to show that it was the physician’s actions that caused your baby to contract the illness.
The latter element, causation, can be a difficult thing to prove because the doctor will try to argue that your child would have contracted HIV/AIDS, irrespective of the doctor’s negligence. You will need to work with an attorney to build evidence that links your child’s illness to the doctor’s actions.
Discussing Your Case with an HIV/AIDS Injury Attorney
If you believe negligence caused your child's illness, we encourage you to contact one of our team members at Cordisco & Saile LLC. We serve families throughout Pennsylvania who are dealing with devastating cases such as these. We help families seek financial restitution for the harm caused by negligent prenatal health care providers.
Be aware that there is a two-year time limit for filing a claim. Failing to take action within the time limit bars your right to the compensation you need to provide your child with the best medical care. Call our office today at 215-642-2335 to schedule a consultation.