Circumcision-Related Medical Malpractice Claims in New Jersey
After the birth of their newborn, parents must make many important decisions before leaving the hospital. One such decision is whether to circumcise or not. For religious, cosmetic, or hygienic reasons, parents may consent to their doctor removing the skin covering the tip of their baby’s penis. A routine practice in America, circumcisions are often safe and performed without incident. And yet, problems may occur when one or both parents do not consent to circumcision or the circumcision leads to serious health conditions, complications, and medical issues for the little boy being circumcised. Though unusual, doctors who perform circumcision procedures do make mistakes. And when a doctor performs the procedure and commits a medical error, they may be liable for medical malpractice if the child experiences health problems as a result. If your son was injured by medical negligence during a circumcision in New Jersey, you have rights and may be able to file a claim for compensation. Contact our trusted pediatric malpractice lawyers for dedicated legal counsel and a free consultation about your child’s case. Please call 866-708-8617 to talk to one of our attorneys today.
Basics of Circumcision Procedures
Since circumcisions typically occur soon after birth, obstetricians, pediatricians, and urologists perform circumcisions, but other qualified healthcare providers may circumcise a baby in medical offices. Since circumcisions are cultural and religious rituals for Jewish, Islamic, African, and Australian aboriginal people, non-healthcare providers may circumcise boys as well. Rabbis or mohels commonly perform circumcisions for Jewish families at a bris, a religious circumcision ritual. Some circumcisions are necessary for recurring infections or genital warts in adults, but other reasons for male newborns include hygiene, tradition, infection prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer. However, circumcision is primarily an elective surgery.
The procedure involves removing the foreskin covering the head of the penis, which occurs most often shortly after birth. However, a Jewish family typically waits eight days before circumcising. The foreskin of a newborn is attached to the penis and cannot retract to expose the rounded tip of the penis. Eventually, the foreskin does retract unless phimosis occurs. Phimosis is when the foreskin remains tight around the penis and requires medical intervention to fix it. However, circumcision is the most common surgery for males, and most circumcisions occur without problems. As such, when something goes wrong, the injured parties, most often the parents of the boy who was circumcised, may seek answers from the circumcision provider.
Common Types of Errors Involving Circumcision
Circumcisions Performed without Parental Consent
One way a doctor may commit medical malpractice related to a circumcision is by failing to obtain the consent of both parents for the procedure. Both parents must consent to the procedure, so a doctor may not perform the operation if one does not. Moreover, if both parents do not consent, a doctor who performs a circumcision may be liable for wrongful circumcision. All procedures need the patient’s informed consent, or in the case of a minor, from the patient’s parents. That means the medical professional must explain the procedure, including the benefits and risks, to allow a child’s parents to decide whether to have the procedure or not.
Valid consent is free, without coercion, informed, and empowered. The consenting party must be the one who has the right to consent, such as a parent or guardian. Barring a life-saving emergency, elective and non-emergency procedures require consent. Parents may sue the doctor for completing an illegal, non-consented operation, supporting a medical malpractice claim.
Negligently Performing a Circumcision
Another way a doctor may commit malpractice is by performing the circumcision negligently. For example, doctors may perform the circumcision incompetently or below the proficiency expected of doctors of the same caliber under similar circumstances. While some circumcisions may turn out wrong due to the child’s existing congenital disabilities, some result in painful and lasting health problems for children due to the medical professional’s inexcusable mistake. A doctor may remove more foreskin than they should, leaving the penis distorted and damaged. The penis may not function properly, in which case the individual may need further surgeries to make the penis look and function normally. Inversely, a practitioner may remove too little foreskin, leading to further surgeries to fix the mistake.
Complications and Injuries Arising from Botched Circumcision
Negligence victims may suffer various health threats due to excessive bleeding, infection, and internal damage. Infections or defective tools can cause urinary tract damage, including meatal stenosis, a narrowed urethra opening that causes dysfunction and pain in urination and sexual performance. A retracted penis may also result from circumcision malpractice, an emotionally painful condition that affects sexual performance and often causes embarrassment in sufferers. Any genital deformation or scarring may cause discomfort, embarrassment, impotence, and emotional trauma. Some mistakes result in the worst-case scenario, meaning necrosis or dead tissue and the necessity for penile amputation.
Some complications occur due to infection and inflammation that develops after the procedure, perhaps when medical staff fails to follow up with the patient’s parents or when an inexperienced physician performs the operation and errs. Defective tools or inadequately sterilized instruments may also cause a doctor to perform the procedure poorly. The resulting conditions from such tragic errors may leave a child with lifelong pain and embarrassment, as well as physiological problems with frequent infections, inflammation, and painful urination. A child may need numerous surgeries to fix issues as they grow.
Who can be Sued for a Botched Circumcision?
If a child suffers complications or medical issues as a result of negligence, parents may have a valid reason to bring a medical malpractice action against the physician or another medical practitioner that circumcised their child. Parents of victims who have been injured by circumcision errors may also file a claim against the hospital if the procedure was performed in an unsanitized environment or the hospital failed to recognize a post-operative infection that left the child seriously harmed. A defective tool manufacturer may also be held liable if their product was the reason for circumcision-related complications. Regardless of the liable party in a circumcision malpractice claim, they may be held responsible for paying for past and continuing medical costs, economic losses, and emotional damage.
Ultimately, a healthcare provider or facility who is deemed negligent in a circumcision case can be forced to pay for an injured child’s past and future losses that were caused by the procedure. Unfortunately, a botched circumcision by a mohel or other circumciser outside of the medical field is not considered medical malpractice within the confines of the law. Parents of an injured baby may have to sue on other grounds, but they cannot file a claim against a non-medical provider for medical malpractice.
How Long do You Have to File a Claim for Circumcision Errors in NJ?
The minor has until 13 to bring a lawsuit if the injury occurred at birth. Some circumcisions arise after birth and even after the age of majority. If the damage happens beyond birth, the child has until the age of majority, and an adult has two years after the date of injury to bring a lawsuit against the negligent medical provider.
Talk to a Trusted New Jersey Attorney about Your Son’s Circumcision Error Case
Fortunately, seasoned pediatric malpractice and birth injury attorneys like ours can work to help parents seek compensation from negligent medical providers, hospitals, and others who cause injuries through errors while circumcising their sons. Having dedicated and experienced legal professionals who understand how to wade through the medical documents, reports, and expert opinions that become involved can be a great relief for parents seeking help for their sons after a circumcision has gone wrong. Prosecuting a medical malpractice action on behalf of a child requires extensive knowledge of the medical and legal systems, and our team of lawyers is prepared to assist you.
If your son’s botched circumcision left him with ongoing damages, contact a our skilled malpractice attorneys to discuss filing a claim for compensation. With a free review of your son’s case, you can find out more about the monetary award you may be able to obtain to care for your child now and in the future. We represent parents, children, and families who have been victimized by medical errors in New Jersey, and we consult on these cases nationwide. To contact us anytime for a free consultation, fill out our convenient form or call 866-708-8617.