Birthing Injuries - Malpractice Lawyers and Attorneys
Fortunately, most child deliveries proceed smoothly without complications. However, complications can arise, both during pregnancy and delivery which result in temporary or permanent harm and injury to the baby. Medical negligence during childbirth can have a lasting impact on the entire family when the negligence results in serious injuries, including birth defects and developmental disabilities.
In cases where the harm was caused by the negligence of a doctor or delivery team, it is critical that the legal rights of both the baby and parent are protected. We help children and their families who have suffered major and catastrophic injuries caused by medical errors. The failure of your doctor or delivery team to respond to any of the following situations could be a sign of medical negligence:
- Maternal or fetal bleeding
- Maternal or fetal distress or anoxia (lack of oxygen)
- Umbilical cord entrapment or compression
- Need for Cesarean Section
- Vacuum extractor and forceps use
- Anticipation of large baby and possible complications
- Maternal health complications
- Labor that is unusually long or short
- Mother or child had harmful reactions to anesthetics/analgesics
- Mother had unusual complications during pregnancy
Some very specific signs of medical negligence may include:
- Misrecording of the due date by the prenatal care provider
- Failure to perform, or misreads of ultrasounds
- Failure to perform, or improper performance of non-stress test
- Failure to properly evaluate third trimester bleeding
- Failure to recognize or treat maternal infections such as herpes, CMV, or Group B Strep
- Failure to correctly interpret fetal monitor strips
- Failure to diagnose or respond properly to fetal distress
- Failure to assign properly qualified personnel to perform a delivery anticipated to be difficult
- Failure to properly estimate fetal weight prior to labor and delivery
- Failure to properly use and monitor Pitocin (a labor drug)
- Failure to recognize or respond to a detached placenta
- Failure to recognize or respond to a prolapsed umbilical cord
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum
- Failure to adequately resuscitate a newborn baby who is in distress at birth
At the Sweeney Law Firm, we handle all types of cases related to improperly handled complications during pregnancy, including the failure to diagnose complicating conditions, emergency room and c-section errors, negligent testing, inappropriate specialist referrals, birth-related injuries and inadequate standards of care during a high-risk pregnancy.
The process of labor and delivery is very complicated and extremely unpredictable. It has been estimated that, for every 1000 babies born in the U.S., five will be injured during birth. Physicians and obstetrical staff must be able to make split-second decisions to protect the health and safety of the newborn. One major cause of birth injuries is oxygen deprivation, which commonly occurs when the umbilical cord is compressed and/or twisted in the birth process. The other main cause is mechanical trauma which may occur when the baby assumes an unusual position at the time of birth. It is important to remember that not all birth injuries will give rise to a successful legal claim. Complications may occur during delivery that, despite an obstetrician's use of reasonable and competent skill, result in unavoidable birth injuries.
A very long delivery can have an adverse impact on the health of a child. A protracted labor can cause brain injuries, due to any of the following:
- A delay in ordering or performing a caesarean section
- Misuse of a labor drug such as Pitocin
- Imprecise use of a vacuum extractor or forceps
- Inadequate resuscitation
- Failure of hospital personnel to monitor the newborn after birth
- Failure to properly treat infections
Birth injuries that occur during labor or delivery are:
- Meconium aspiration
- Fetal distress
- Excessive bleeding
- Brachial plexus
- Cerebral palsy - brain damage
- Shoulder dystocia
The most serious birth injuries are those that affect a child's brain. A lack of oxygen during delivery (hypoxia), or bleeding within the skull or brain, is usually what causes birth injuries and often results in irreversible brain damage. A shortage of oxygen can be caused by a number of things, including an unusual birth position, the placenta separating from the uterus wall too early, a problem with circulation in the umbilical cord, or a labor that is too long or too short. Most medical malpractice claims that stem from this cause of injury contend that doctors or medical professionals failed to anticipate, recognize or react to these dangerous situations. Use of excessive force, failure to properly anticipate the size of the child, and failure to order a C-section are other factors that can lead to birth injuries.
Each year approximately 10,000 babies born in the United States develop cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement or coordination caused by an abnormality of the brain. It is a permanent and irreversible crippling condition affecting the central nervous system of an infant or a young child. More than 80% of people with cerebral palsy developed it either before they were born or before they were one month old. In many instances, the cause of the brain abnormality is unknown, however there are many ways in which the negligence of a hospital delivery team can cause cerebral palsy during the birth process.
Lack of oxygen to the brain or trauma to the head during labor and delivery can cause cerebral palsy. If the infant does not get enough oxygen the brain can be injured. There are many factors that suggest the injury occured as a result of improper medical care, or insult to the brain during the birthing process:
- The infant demonstrates poor sucking after birth
- Seizures develop within 24 to 48 hours
- The child is floppy at birth
- The skin is blue or dusky at birth
- The infant needs resuscitation at, or shortly after birth because he/she is not breathing
- A baby who was born full-term, but does not go home at the same time as the mother
- There was no indication of trauma or infection during the pregnancy
- There is no history in the family of brain damage
- The infant has problems maintaining temperature after birth
- The bag of waters was ruptured for over 24 hours
- There is meconium (fecal) staining on the baby at the time of delivery.
This occurs when excessive lateral traction is applied to the fetal neck region during delivery. This can cause the child's nerves to be torn resulting in a limp arm. Tearing of these nerves can cause permanent paralysis of the arm. The most common forms are:
- Neuropraxia - child usually recovers without treatment. This is a stretching but not a tear of the nerve.
- Neuroma - nerves are torn and try to heal themselves but leave scar tissue and the scar tissue exerts pressure on the nerve, disabling it.
- Rupture occurs when stretching causes the nerve to tear at any point except at the spinal attachment.
- Avulsion - when the nerve tears at the spinal attachment.
- Surgery will improve rupture or avulsion.
This refers to a complication that can occur during the birth process. The shoulder is caught behind the pelvic bone of the mother. The baby is unable to breathe in this position. The first thing is to change the position of the mother to allow her pelvis region to open and the baby's shoulder to pass through.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of possible medical malpractice, call the Sweeney Law Firm now at (866) 793-6339 or submit the case form. The initial consultation is free, and if we agree to accept your case, we will handle your case on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a settlement or recovery of funds. There is no reason to hesitate. You may have a valid claim and be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.
There are several factors that may suggest that birthing injuries are the result of medical negligence or improper medical care. Contact Sweeney Law Firm today and have your case reviewed by a Doctor and get the answers you need.