The birth of a child should be the most joyous occasion in our lives. Finding out that your precious baby suffers from a devastating and preventable birth injury can be crushing. Apart from the emotional rollercoaster and physical consequences that a birth injury can cause, it can also put an extreme financial strain on a family for years to come.
Some birth injuries can be prevented by adequate medical care and attention during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. If you believe that a medical professional’s carelessness caused your child’s birth injury, Morgan & Morgan can help. The cost of a birth injury lawyer should not keep families from getting justice. When we take your case, you pay only if and when you receive compensation. Start the process of getting justice for your baby today and contact us for a free consultation.
Medical Malpractice and Birth Injuries
A birth injury can occur due to medical staff’s negligence in prenatal care, labor, birth, and treatment of a newborn. Especially during labor and delivery, medical professionals must closely monitor the health of the mother and baby and intervene when any issues arise. Birth injuries can occur when doctors or nurses neglect to monitor or fail to intervene during this critical time, particularly when there are clear signs of fetal distress.
If medical staff miss or ignore obvious signs of fetal distress and fail to initiate a C-section quickly, the consequences can be catastrophic. Birth injuries can also occur when physicians incorrectly use instruments such as forceps and vacuum extractors.
The Concept of “Standard of Care” in Medical Malpractice
In legal terms, medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to follow the “standard of care” when treating mother and child, resulting in injury and damages. Standard of care stands for the type of treatment that a reasonable health professional would provide under the same or similar circumstances. A medical professional deviating from the standard of care is generally responsible for the harm caused due to their actions or inactions.
Common Birth Injuries
During labor and delivery, physicians and nurses frequently have to make split-second decisions to save a baby’s life and health. It can be heartbreaking for a family to find out that their baby suffers from a debilitating birth injury due to medical professionals’ carelessness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional birth injuries are one of the leading causes of infant death in the United States. Common birth injuries can include:
Caput succedaneum is the swelling of a newborn baby’s scalp. The condition typically appears after a difficult birth with the help of delivery instruments such as vacuum extractors or forceps. In mild cases, the swelling goes away on its own after a few days.
However, caput can potentially lead to jaundice which, if untreated, can result in complications such as brain damage, hearing loss, and others.
Erb's palsy can cause loss of motion and weakness in the neck, arms, hands and fingers due to nerve damage. The condition can be caused by prolonged labor or a difficult delivery and typically involves the overstretching of a baby’s neck on one side. In some infants, Erb’s palsy can heal over time with physiotherapy and daily exercises. However, if severe, the injury can cause permanent loss of motion. Multiple surgeries may be required to help a child regain function and movement.
The risk for bone fractures rises with a complicated delivery or long labor. According to Stanford Children’s Health, fracture of the clavicle or collarbone can be common during delivery. Factors that can lead to bone breaks in newborns include:
- A large baby
- A baby in breech position
- The use of assistive instruments during delivery
Complications of bone fractures during birth can include subsequent problems with nerve and muscle function.
Damage to an infant’s facial nerve can occur with forceps or by otherwise applying too much pressure to a baby’s face during labor. A long pregnancy or labor, large baby size, birth trauma, and the use of an epidural can contribute to facial paralysis. Paralysis of a newborn’s face can be apparent when the baby cries as there is typically no movement on the affected side.
In minor cases, facial paralysis can reverse on its own. However, if the facial nerve was torn during delivery, surgery may be required.
Oxygen deprivation at birth can have tragic consequences. Depending on how long a baby’s brain was starved of oxygen at birth, the result can be devastating disabilities, permanent brain damage, or even death. Oxygen deprivation can potentially occur due to various factors, such as umbilical cord complications and placental abruption. However, in some cases, a medical professional’s hesitancy or wrong decision can lead to avoidable oxygen deprivation.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spinal injuries can occur due to overstretching or applying too much pressure to the spinal area during a complicated delivery. In infants, spinal cord birth injuries can range in severity from bruising to complete spinal cord severance. While milder cases can heal with the appropriate medical treatments, babies with severe spinal cord injuries will most likely need care throughout their life.
Cerebral palsy is a muscle control disorder that can develop before, during, or after birth. Some babies develop the condition due to prolonged or difficult labor. Causes of cerebral palsy can include oxygen deprivation, head trauma, and other medical mistakes during delivery. Cerebral palsy is incurable. Those suffering from the condition have lifelong problems with posture and movement. Some individuals experience intellectual disabilities, seizures, and other life-limiting medical disorders.
Birth Injuries Can Turn Lives Upside Down
Birth injuries can have dire consequences on a person’s physical health and mental well-being throughout life. Significant birth injuries can also cause extreme financial hardship for families. Cerebral palsy alone can cause average lifetime costs of over one million dollars, according to cerebralpalsy.org.
Help Is Available
Most families cannot and should not shoulder the astronomical medical costs that an avoidable birth injury causes. If your baby was hurt due to the negligence of medical professionals, you deserve justice and compensation. A Morgan & Morgan birth injury lawyer can help you initiate legal action against those responsible.