Birth Injury Lawsuits
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), each year six out of every 1,000 children born in the United States are injured during birth. Many of these birth injuries are preventable and are the result of medical malpractice.
There is evidence that suggests that medical professionals are not as forthcoming as is expected during critical times surround child birth. In a study conducted by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), up to 30 percent of families questioned believed their doctors did not talk openly with them, and 50 percent believed that their doctors attempted to mislead them.
For a variety of reasons, many doctors choose not to discuss long-term infant health issues before or after child birth, and some may be responsible for severe sustained birth injuries, including:
Symptoms of Birth Injury
- Swelling/bruising of the head
- Seizures within 48 hours of birth
- Failure to begin breathing immediately
- Bleeding underneath one of the cranial bones
- Breakage of eye blood vessels
- Apparent nerve damage to arms/hands (loss of muscle control)
- Apparent nerve damage to the face (loss of muscle control)
- Loss of motion due to fracture of the collarbone
Low Apgar Score
A low Apgar score may be indicative of brain trauma that was preventable. Medical malpractice may also arise with low Apgar scores when appropriate measures are not met by physicians and nurses caring for newborns with low Apgar scores.
When an infant has an Apgar score lower than seven, sufficient medical attention is required. Typical responses to low Apgar scores include providing oxygen to clear a baby’s air passages or physical stimulation to jump-start a baby’s heartbeat (up to 100 beats per minute).
Fetal Monitoring Malpractice
Fetal monitoring has been around as early as the 1960s, when doctors used a stethoscope designed for use in pregnancy to monitor the fetus. The practice helps physicians monitor how a baby is faring during labor.
Electronic fetal monitoring is more advanced now, and can decipher how an infant’s heart rate is responding. Electronic fetal monitoring includes a computer monitor display that records the fetal heart rate and the birthing mother’s contractions. Many birth malpractice lawsuits involve the misinterpretation of fetal monitoring strips.
For women having high-risk labor, it is common to have continuous fetal monitoring. This may be critical for the following:
- Women using an epidural
- Women having an induction of labor
- Women who have had a previous C-section
- Women with existing medical conditions
- Women experiencing some form of fetal distress
Fetal Distress Malpractice
Fetal distress means the womb has become unsafe for an infant, and the baby may not be getting enough oxygen. Interpreting electronic fetal monitoring can help prevent birth injuries. Plaintiffs often argue that some birth injuries result when labor and delivery are improperly delayed, resulting in a brain injury.
The purpose of fetal monitoring is to watch for warning signs and act before a major injury occurs. The fetal monitor focuses largely on oxygen. Common warning signs of fetal distress include:
- Loss of variability
- Uterine hyperstimulation
If the fetus has certain fetal heart rate characteristics like tachycardia, decelerations, or bradycardia, the child is at risk for hypoxia, ischemia, acidosis, and asphyxia, all of which can lead to brain damage.
Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury
Cerebral palsy is one of the more common birth defects, and affects a person’s ability to move properly. The condition can be the result of toxic exposure, medical malpractice, birth trauma, or other causes. In many cases, the exact cause of cerebral palsy is unknown.
Possible causes, however, include genetic defects, congenital brain defects, maternal infection, or fetal trauma. Specific types of brain damage may cause characteristic CP symptoms, such as damage to the white matter of the brain , which is responsible for transmitting brain signals to the body.
Gaps in brain tissue in a child will interfere with the transmission of signals to the body. Researchers have identified the period of 26 and 34 weeks of gestation as being critical in brain development.
Cerebral palsy related to genetic abnormalities, or congenital cerebral palsy, can be managed with proper medical guidance. Maternal vaccinations and Rh incompatibilities should be managed early in pregnancy by a obstetrician. Acquired cerebral palsy, usually due to a head injury, is more preventable with safe child care.
Cerebral palsy malpractice cases can help families cope with high medical costs, costs of specialized care, and for special treatment into the future. If a doctor or hospital is responsible for a cerebral palsy injury, contact The Lyon Firm. We can investigate any potential hospital negligence lawsuit or medical malpractice case, and assist in recovering rightful compensation.
Hypoxic Birth Injury & HIE Lawsuits
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or perinatal encephalopathy is caused by a lack of oxygen during childbirth. Perinatal encephalopathy is a broad term that refers to brain damage from birth trauma. Birth injuries may include a ruptured uterus, an obstructed umbilical cord, birth trauma or separation of the placenta.
Hypoxia refers to a lack of oxygen and birth complications may include brain damage, death, and damage to the central nervous system. There are several causes of oxygen deprivation during childbirth, and doctors must prevent them to the best of their ability.
Obstetricians, nurses, and nurse practitioners have to be aware of the potential for eclampsia, a prolapsed umbilical cord, ruptured uterus, or placental abruption that can lead to oxygen loss. Babies who suffer hypoxic injuries at birth risk developing neurological injuries, development delays, learning disabilities, seizures, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy.
Pharmaceutical Birth Defects
In recent years, medical research has located significant birth risks when pregnant women are exposed to certain toxins and prescription drugs. Prolonged exposure heightens risk; however, even a small chemical imbalance in a woman’s body during pregnancy can result in dangerous irregularities.
The full impacts these toxic products and drugs have on developing infants are inadequately studied before the dangerous products are marketed, or are prescribed to pregnant women without sufficient safety warnings.
Birth defects are the leading cause of infant death. Newborns who survive birth defects often need significant medical care for life, and many are unable to fully mature and function independently.
Pregnancy & Medication Use
According to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of prescription medication by pregnant women during the first trimester has increased more than 60 percent over the past 30 years. Most birth defects occur within the first three months of pregnancy.
According to the CDC at the time of the study, at least 50 percent of pregnant women were taking at least one prescription medication during the first trimester. The risk of birth defects caused by some prescription drugs is even more dire because pharmaceutical companies do not provide a widespread warning for many products.
Vacuum Extraction Birth Injury
When a delivery is not assisted with forceps, it is usually done with a vacuum extractor, which uses a small suction cup placed on the infant’s head in the birth canal. During the birthing mother’s contraction, the doctor pulls gently on the baby’s head with the vacuum suction, pulling the infant’s head out of the birth canal.
Vacuum extraction has a very high success rate when it is used properly, though vacuum errors are possible, and vacuum extraction birth injuries can be quite serious. Any delay in delivery can raise the risk of a lack of oxygen for a baby and potential brain damage. Many delivery malpractice lawsuits are filed because in the circumstances a vacuum extraction was not the wise medical choice.
For example, using the vacuum device during childbirth may be poor medical decision if there has already been an attempt to deliver with forceps. The Ohio standard of care also prohibits the use of vacuum extraction when the infant’s head is too high in the birth canal.
In summary, the purpose of vacuum extraction is to deliver a baby as fast as possible to avoid oxygen deprivation. A primary risk of vacuum delivery is a subgaleal hematoma, the swelling of clotted blood in the issues. This can occur when a vacuum is placed improperly on child’s head or the vacuum is used incorrectly.
Brachial Plexus Birth Injury
The brachial plexus is a nerve network which allows the transfer of signals from the spine to the extremities. Damage to these nerves during childbirth can result in severe brachial plexus birth injuries. In extreme birth injury cases, a plexus injury can lead to lifelong complications.
During difficult deliveries, a baby’s shoulders may become impacted, stressing the brachial plexus nerves. Brachial plexus injuries can occur during vaginal childbirth or Cesarean section.
Excessive traction malpractice can lead to birth injury when doctor fears there is an imminent risk of asphyxia injury. Brachial plexus injuries may include:
Brachial injuries sometimes heal over time, and some children will suffer with permanent injuries such as:
- Muscle atrophy
- Impaired bone growth
- Joint dysfunction
- Coordination problems
- Psychological issues
Umbilical Cord Prolapse
A prolapsed umbilical cord can occur when a baby’s umbilical cord drops through the open cervix into the vagina. During prolapse, the cord may be compressed by the fetus, limiting the blood and oxygen supply. If doctors do not recognize the problem quickly, there is a risk of long-term birth injury and brain damage for the infant.
Umbilical cord prolapses are rare, but are very dangerous. The mortality rate is quite high, and if the baby survives they have a high risk of developing cerebral palsy or other birth injuries. There are three different kinds of umbilical cord prolapse, including:
- Overt cord prolapse
- Occult prolapse
- Funic presentation
Shoulder Dystocia Birth Injury
Shoulder dystocia is a birth complication that occurs about once in every 30,000 deliveries. Shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injury occur during childbirth where one shoulder of the baby gets trapped behind the mother’s pelvis.
When this occurs, an experienced doctor will pull on the infant’s head with either forceps or using vacuum extraction. When obstetricians see that a baby’s shoulder is stuck on the pelvic bone, they have a limited amount of time to either order a C-section or to perform a maneuvers to free the shoulder. Excessive traction can lead to shoulder dystocia and other birth injury.
Birth Injury Settlements
The medical costs for caring for a child with a birth injury are usually more than a typical family can afford. Medical costs can be ten-times the amount of medical costs for children who do not have a birth injury. Thus, a malpractice settlement is very important financially to properly care of a child.
Most infants who experience birth injuries will require long-term medical care and potentially special education, behavioral therapy, and a wide variety of specialized care. The expenses will add up, and your settlement is crucial for the future.
In recent years, the courts have carefully considered medical malpractice cases, and awarded rightful and generous settlements to victims of serious birth injuries. Doctors and medical professionals in Cincinnati and Ohio hospitals may have all the best intentions but are not perfect individuals, and are capable of making mistakes that have terrible, long-reaching effects.
The Lyon Firm develops compelling evidence in catastrophic injury cases through the use of nationally-recognized experts to present the highest quality advocacy on the Plaintiff’s behalf. This work has resulted in significant seven figure settlements that enhanced and secured a dignified quality of life for the Plaintiff’s future.
There are a wide variety of medical malpractice claims relating to pregnancy and birth. Doctors and nurses may make mistakes during the pre-natal, birthing, and post-natal periods. Some of the following mistakes may describe the most common malpractice occurrences that result in birth injury:
- Failing to recognize and address fetal distress
- Failing to identify pre or post-natal infection (including bacterial and viral infections)
- Incorrect use of forceps or application of excessive force: if the delivering doctor uses improper techniques, the baby can be injured, causing trauma to the head, spinal cord or vertebrae
- Lack of oxygen
- Failure to follow up after delivery—newborn seizures are often misdiagnosed in the critical first 24 hours of life
- Administration of incorrect or dangerous medications
- Failing to perform a cesarean section when required
- Diagnostic Error fetal bradycardia, decelerations, or low fetal heart rate variability
- Birth Delays—a delay in birth can increase the risk of hypoxia (a lack of oxygen) and acidosis (increasing acidity of the blood). This may lead to brain damage.
Filing lawsuits are usually nobody’s first choice, and can be exhausting for plaintiffs, but by hiring a competent attorney, you may be able to improve your quality of life substantially. The courts have awarded plaintiffs large verdicts in Ohio medical malpractice lawsuits.