Nothing may be more heart wrenching than seeing a baby whose life is forever changed as a result of a birth injury. These injuries affect approximately seven out of every 1,000 babies born and can be a devastating event for the entire family. The child may suffer lifelong disabilities with enormous medical costs, endure ongoing pain and suffering, and may never be able to function as an independent adult. Due to the severity of birth injuries, it is important to know what recourse you may have if your child has suffered such injury as a result of a medical error.
What is a birth injury?
Birth injury cases are a special type of medical malpractice in which babies are injured as a result of medical errors occurring during pregnancy, delivery or immediately after delivery. The resulting injury can be severe. Any member of the baby’s medical team, including obstetricians, nurses, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists or others, could be held liable if their medical errors resulted in a birth injury.
What are the most common types of birth injury cases?
The most common birth injury cases normally involve:
This occurs when a baby’s brain and other organs do not get enough oxygen before, during or right after birth. Without sufficient oxygen, a baby’s brain and other organs can suffer permanent damage causing cerebral palsy, organ failure, developmental disabilities, or even death.
Common causes of birth hypoxia include:
- Uterine or Placental rupture
- Problems with umbilical cord during delivery
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Breech Birth
- Very long or difficult delivery
Shoulder Dystocia Injuries:
These injuries occur when an infant’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during a vaginal delivery. Shoulder Dystocia is considered an obstetrical emergency. This emergency requires immediate intervention by the medical team to dislodge the baby’s shoulder and deliver the baby safely and in a timely manner.
If untreated, Shoulder Dystocia can result in numerous injuries to the baby including:
- Birth Hypoxia
- Cerebral Palsy
- Brachial Plexus Nerve Injuries
- Bone Fractures
- Skull Fractures
- Spinal trauma
How do medical errors cause birth injuries?
A significant number of birth injuries are caused by the negligence of doctors and hospitals. Preventable accidents can lead to obstetric malpractice lawsuits. Here are a few examples of negligent medical care.
- Misdiagnosing medical conditions
- Failing to monitor vital signs
- Ignoring risk factors
- Delaying or not performing necessary c-sections
- Misusing vacuum extractors and forceps during delivery
- Using excessive force during delivery
- Disregarding staffing shortages
What can medical providers do to prevent birth injuries?
Medical providers are required to monitor the health of the mother and baby throughout the course of the pregnancy. They must also follow time-critical protocols during each stage of the birth process.
The obstetrical team involved throughout the course of the pregnancy is required to monitor the mother for risk factors such as excessive weight gain or obesity, gestational diabetes, a large (macrosomic) baby, placental previa or placental abruption. Ultrasounds, fetal heart monitoring and other diagnostic tests can also be used during pregnancy to help determine if the fetus is developing normally. Genetic testing may be necessary if there is a family history of genetic abnormalities.
Medical professionals and hospitals that specialize in obstetrics and neonatal care are responsible for protecting the well-being of the mother and baby during labor and delivery. Fetal heart monitoring can aid during labor and delivery to ensure that the baby is not in distress. The medical team is also required to diligently watch for signs of distress in the baby (i.e., fetal heart rate strips indicating cardiac distress) that would necessitate an emergency c-section. Medical complications do not justify birth injuries. Physicians need to take extra precautions when completing complex deliveries.
How can The Mabrey Firm help?
Our attorneys have over 25 years of experience in handling cases pertaining to birth injuries. Our investigation can reveal what went wrong and who is responsible for the injuries. If your child has suffered a birth injury that you believe occurred as a result of a medical error, contact us today to schedule your free consultation.