The birth of your child is one of the happiest days in a parent’s life. You have been planning for at least nine months and you are full of expectations and joy. Yet this joy can turn to despair if your child suffers a serious birth injury. Most births go as anticipated, but a small number of them have complications.
Common Birth Injuries
There are some common injuries that newborns may sustain during birth.
- Brachial Plexus Injuries – Injuries to the bundle of nerves that controls movement of the extremities.
- Perinatal Asphyxia – Lack of oxygen during labor or delivery.
- Fractures – Broken bones, often due to the use of excessive force.
- Head Injuries – Fractures or other injuries caused by force used on the baby during birth.
- Hypoxic-ischemic Injury – Brain injury often due to lack of oxygen at birth.
- Cerebral Palsy – Serious cognitive disability, sometimes a result of a birth complication.
Risk Factors for Birth Injuries
While birth injuries cannot always be predicted, there are a number of factors that may cause complications during the birth process. Doctors must be aware of the potential for injuries so they are properly prepared before delivery. Some of the risk factors include:
- Diabetes of the mother;
- Large-seized baby;
- Premature birth; and
- Breech position of baby.
Generally, the risks are known ahead of time, before labor even begins. High risk pregnancies must be properly monitored and checked throughout the gestation period. If any problems are found, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy, the doctor should consider performing a cesarean section.
Failure to Monitor
During labor, the heart rate and other important data should be monitored for both the mother and baby. All too often, a birth injury could have been avoided if the fetus had been properly monitored. A mother and fetus may be hooked up to a monitor, but there may be nobody properly watching for problems. If there is a problem, the baby may be in distress and could be deprived of oxygen. This is a medical emergency and action must be taken immediately to deliver the baby.
Improper Procedures at Birth
Sometimes an injury can happen because of improper procedures used during labor and delivery. Forceps are necessary in certain situations to assist in pulling a child who is stuck. A special vacuum is another tool that may be utilized in the delivery room. These instruments can cause injuries to the baby, especially when a lot of pressure is used. One of the most common problems that can happen to a baby is that the shoulders become lodged in the birth canal, causing the baby distress. The infant needs to be delivered quickly to avoid oxygen deprivation.
Failure to Perform C-Section
A cesarean section, also called a c-section, is a surgical method for delivering a baby. In a c-section, the mother is taken to an operating room where the procedure is performed. The doctor must make an incision to remove the baby. While once an over-used option, a c-section is often a necessity when there is danger to the baby. If the baby is experiencing distress, a c-section may be the best way to deliver the baby immediately. Unfortunately, a doctor may not perform a c-section when it is necessary.
Failure to Cool
Recent research has found that for an infant who is experiencing oxygen deprivation during birth, the outcome can be significantly improved if the infant is cooled immediately. Special neonatal cooling devices are designed to safely cool an infant who has suffered from diminished oxygen. If a baby is not immediately cooled, the resulting brain injuries could be more severe. While there is more research needed in this area, the failure to cool an infant in need may be considered medical malpractice.
Failure to Diagnose and Treat
When an infant is born with a medical problem, the doctor must diagnose the situation and provide adequate treatment. For example, when a baby is born with jaundice, he is suffering from a diminished liver function. The proper treatment is usually to place the baby in under a special lamp for a period of time during the first day or two after birth. However, there are times when the condition may be more severe. The failure to properly diagnose could cause the infant to become extremely ill and may even result in the baby’s death.
Negligence by a Doctor
Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are required to provide a high level of care to patients. They are expected to know more than the average person because of their medical training, experience, and education. When a doctor makes a mistake, it is sometimes called medical malpractice. The doctor is responsible for providing proper care and when he does not, the result may be significant harm to the patient. While under the doctor’s care, a patient expects that the diagnosis and treatment received will help rather than cause further harm. If a doctor’s mistake does not cause any harm, there are no damages, and therefore usually no legal case. However, if the injury is significant, the patient or family are entitled to collect money for damages.
What to Do Following a Birth Injury
If your baby was injured during labor or delivery parents must learn the details of how the injuries were caused. If the injuries were due to negligence on the part of the doctor or medical team, it may be considered medical malpractice. Many birth injuries are not immediately apparent at birth. In some cases, the baby may have suffered from oxygen deprivation during birth. The extent of the injuries may not be completely known until the child begins to develop and grow. Only then may the child be properly tested to determine the disability.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
In personal injury cases, the victim is entitled to collect money for the medical expenses that were caused by the injury. In addition, there may be other damages that should be paid. Money for pain and suffering, costs for rehabilitation, and future medical expenses should be paid to the victim. In the case of an infant with a permanent disability, there is also the loss of enjoyment of life. The parents of these children are owed money to cover all of these costs.
If your infant was seriously hurt at birth, contact the compassionate personal injury attorneys in Columbia, SC at The Connell Law Firm, LLC to schedule a consultation.