Whenever a child is born prematurely, they typically require special care and attention, especially with regards to their dietary and nutritional needs. A common practice in hospitals around the country is to give cow’s milk-based baby formulas such as Similac and Enfamil to these premature infants as an additional source of nutrients to bolster their vulnerable bodily systems. However, this practice has been shown to significantly increase a child’s risk of contracting necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which is a serious gastrointestinal condition that can be fatal if left untreated.
Numerous families around the U.S. are coming forward to pursue legal action after suffering damages due to their child’s diagnosis of NEC. The question is, then, what kinds of claims are being filed and why? Let’s take a look at some of the differences between medical malpractice and product liability NEC claims.
What is a Duty of Care? NEC Medical Malpractice
One way NEC victims and their families may recover compensation is through a medical malpractice claim. Essentially, doctors and healthcare professionals owe what’s called a duty of care to their patients–this means that they are expected to adhere to established medical standards that are deemed as being acceptable in a given situation. If an investigation determines that the doctor or healthcare professional did not act according to these standards, that opens the possibility of establishing negligence, and a medical malpractice claim becomes possible.
With regards to NEC, doctors who are caring for premature infants must recognize the signs and symptoms associated with the condition and act accordingly. If a child with NEC is misdiagnosed or doesn’t receive the proper care, they could suffer serious injury to their abdomen, and some cases are fatal. These additional complications can form the basis of a successful medical malpractice claim, and this is especially true if the doctor prescribed cow’s milk-based baby formulas such as Similac or Enfamil, as these products have been shown to increase a child’s risk of developing NEC.
In 2011, a family in Massachusetts was awarded a $7.05 million verdict for a medical malpractice claim in which their premature newborn tragically died from NEC-related complications. The claim alleged that the physicians in charge of their infant’s care failed to properly assess and treat NEC before it became fatal.
NEC Lawsuits Against Formula Manufacturers
Another way that NEC victims can recover compensation is by filing a product liability claim against formula manufacturers such as Abbott Laboratories and Mead Johnson Nutrition, who are responsible for producing Similac and Enfamil brand formulas, respectively. For decades, there has been ample evidence that premature babies have an increased risk of contracting NEC after ingesting bovine formulas, and yet manufacturers have never changed their formulas or even added extra warnings to their packaging and labels.
Product liability laws vary by state, so it’s important to consult with an attorney to see which plan of action is best for your particular case. For the most part, these claims revolve around several factors, such as the risks associated with the product and the level of responsibility for everyone involved. In other words, claimants must show that they used the product as intended, but defects or misleading information associated with the product caused the claimant to suffer injuries (in this case these injuries would include an NEC diagnosis).
These claims can be difficult to achieve individually, but if numerous claimants have similar grievances against the same defendant(s), it opens the door for larger-scale litigation such as a mass tort or class action lawsuit.
Questions About an NEC Claim? Contact Van Law Firm Today
Parents of premature newborns have enough to worry about, and the thought of their child contracting a potentially fatal condition because of the negligence of others should not be within the realm of concern. Families deserve to be compensated for the damages they’ve sustained because of their child’s NEC-related complications–if you have questions about a potential NEC baby formula claim, don’t hesitate to contact Van Law Firm. Our team of experienced NEC baby formula attorneys can assess your claim and formulate the plan of action that works best for your situation. Call our office nearest you today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.