While most births in hospitals and homes in the United States occur without complications, birth injuries can occur for a variety of reasons. In fact, sources say that a birth injury occurs in about 27 of every 1,000 births. Sometimes these injuries are unavoidable, but more often they are the result of medical mistakes or medical negligence (i.e. failure to act to prevent such injuries) on behalf of doctors and/or nurses. The causes of birth injuries can be pinpointed to any point during the delivery process and sometimes even back to the pregnancy.
If you suspect that your baby has suffered a birth injury due to medical mistakes or medical negligence, you may wish to consult with a legal professional who can assess your case to determine your rights and options. You may be able to seek compensation for your related expenses and suffering. For children who have developed serious and permanent disabilities from birth injuries, you may be able to seek lifetime compensation. Please contact our experienced medical malpractice attorneys today to learn more about your options.
What is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence, a type of medical malpractice, is defined as any medical professional’s failure to exercise prudent and reasonable medical judgment in providing care that deviates from accepted medical standards and causes injury to a patient. Medical negligence is responsible for numerous birth injuries in the United States each year.
Causes of Birth Injuries
In some cases, the cause of birth injury can be traced back to medical negligence that occurred during a woman’s pregnancy. For example, failure to diagnose and adequately attend to maternal or fetal health conditions or complications can increase the risk of birth injury. Doctors have a duty to address prenatal issues such as:
- Rh incompatibility
- Maternal disease or infection
- Maternal diabetes
- Maternal hypertension
- Abnormal fetal growth or development
- Cephalopelvic disproportion
Most birth injuries, however, occur during the labor and delivery process. Shoulder dystocia, premature birth, prolonged birth, large newborn size, irregular birth presentation, difficult labor, problems with the umbilical cord, and other conditions can all increase the risk of birth injuries. Excessive use of force, improper use of medical interventions, needless surgery, failure to follow standard protocol, improper intubation, delay of c-section, and other medical mistakes can lead to birth injuries during delivery.
Types of Birth Injuries
Several types of birth injuries can occur as a result of complications and medical mistakes during pregnancy or child birth or in the immediate neo-natal time frame. These birth injuries may be mild and temporary, or their effects may be longer lasting or even permanent. Please read below to learn about some of the most common types of birth injuries.
- Facial paralysis, often temporary, is often caused by medical mistakes during delivery.
- Brachial plexus palsy (aka Klumpke’s Palsy, Erb’s Palsy)
- Cerebral palsy, a serious birth injury that causes permanent disability
- Fractures, caused by forceful or excessive birthing techniques
- Caput succedaneum: Caput succedaneum is an injury to the baby’s head in which forceful delivery techniques cause severe swelling and bruising of the baby’s head. Fortunately, this birth injury is often temporary, though such excessive use of force during delivery can cause much more serious injuries, including brain damage.
- Cephalohematoma: Like caput succedaneum, cephalohematoma is a birth injury that affects the baby’s head. This birth injury involves irregular bleeding beneath the cranial bones in the head. When bleeding is severe, this birth injury can lead to jaundice, which can have serious consequences.
- Kernicterus: a form of devastating brain damage caused by excessive jaundice as a result of too much bilirubin in a baby’s bloodstream, due to a baby’s liver’s inability to excrete excessive bilirubin. In cases of extremely high levels of bilirubin, the substance can move out of the blood and collect into the brain tissue leading to serious neurological complications. Kernicterus usually develops within the first week of a newborn’s life, but may not be noticeable until a few weeks later.
When a birth injury causes significant and/or long term harm to a child or mother, the family often has the legal right to seek compensation for medical expenses, monetary losses, and pain and suffering. To learn more about birth injuries and your legal rights, please contact the qualified and caring medical malpractice attorneys at Injury Lawyer Omaha to learn more. We can provide a free and confidential case evaluation so that you can determine the best course of action based on full knowledge of your options.