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Cincinnati Medical Malpractice Lawyer Investigating Birth Trauma and Maternal Injuries on behalf of Plaintiffs Nationwide
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Cincinnati Cerebral Palsy Lawyer

Medical Malpractice & Birth Injury Claims

The majority of children are delivered in the United States healthy and without complications, however, thousands of birthing mothers and babies may suffer from serious, permanent injuries such as cerebral palsy and other permanent conditions. Around 30 of 1,000 babies in the U.S. suffer from birth trauma due to natural complications, hospital negligence, and delivery malpractice.

Every hour a baby is born with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move, due to damage to the brain either during pregnancy, during delivery, or after birth.

Cerebral palsy affects individuals in different ways, and can affect muscle control, basic coordination, muscle tone, reflexes, posture and balance. CP is a permanent condition, but some symptoms can improve or worsen over time. Those with CP may also have visual, learning, hearing, and speech disorders.

Birth trauma lawsuits can be filed by plaintiffs following serious newborn injuries and maternal injury that can be linked to hospital negligence or errors made by any medical staff member, including nurses, doctors and anesthesiologist. Common neonatal birth injuries warranting legal action may include cerebral palsy, congenital heart defects, broken bones, or Brachial Plexus Injuries.

The standard of medical care in American hospitals dictates that most birth injuries are preventable and should not take place. Should a hospital and professional medical staff fail to prevent a maternal or neonatal injury, birth trauma lawsuits filed with a medical malpractice attorney can recover medical expenses, pain and suffering, and long-term disability costs for severe and permanent birth injury.

Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati, Ohio Medical Malpractice Lawyer and hospital negligence attorney investigating birth injury cases and filing birth trauma lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs nationwide.

Common Birth Injuries & Birth Trauma

Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture caused by damage that occurs to an immature, developing brain, before, during or soon after birth. Estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network show about 1 in 323 children are affected by Cerebral Palsy.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the leading cause of childhood disabilities, but it doesn’t always cause profound disabilities.

While one child with severe CP might need extensive, lifelong care, another child with mild CP might be only slightly awkward and require no special assistance. Some people show intellectual capacity, but others may have intellectual disabilities. The disorder isn’t progressive; however, as a child gets older, certain symptoms may become more evident.

Birth trauma most commonly occurs with larger babies and longer deliveries, which may require doctors to use instruments like forceps or vacuums to assist in delivery. Maternal injuries are more common than many may think, including instances of anesthesia malpractice. Other kinds of birth trauma and birth defects can include:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Bell’s Palsy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Cleft Palate
  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Head, neck, and shoulder injury
  • Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
  • Brachial Plexus Injury
  • Anoxic Hypoxic Brain Injury—Oxygen Deprivation
  • C-section Injury
  • Air Embolism
  • Retained instruments
  • Infection
  • Infant or Maternal death

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal development or damage to parts of the brain. Damage can occur before, during, or shortly after birth. Children with congenital cerebral palsy may not be detected until months or years later. Any interruption in brain growth during fetal development can cause brain malformations.

Acquired cerebral palsy is less common and may be caused by a head injury, or brain infections such as bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis. Factors that may lead to problems with brain development include:

  • Blood Incompatibility:  between a mother and child, or Rh incompatibility, develops when a mother’s Rh blood type (positive or negative) is different from the blood type of her child. The mother’s system doesn’t tolerate the baby’s different blood type and the body will begin to make antibodies that will attack and kill a baby’s blood cells.
  • Maternal infections that affect a developing fetus: Infections like toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, and herpes can infect the womb and fetus. Inflammation triggered by an infection may damage the nervous system in an unborn baby. Maternal fever during pregnancy or delivery may also lead to an inflammatory response.
  • Fetal stroke: a disruption of blood supply to the developing brain. Bleeding in the brain, or intracranial hemorrhage, may be caused by weak blood vessels or by blood-clotting abnormalities. High Maternal blood pressure (hypertension) is more common in babies with fetal stroke. Maternal infection, especially pelvic inflammatory disease, may increase the risk of fetal stroke.
  • Infant infections that cause inflammation in or around the brain
  • Traumatic head injury to an infant during or soon after birth
  • Toxic Exposure during pregnancy can harm the fetus. There are several cases of pharmaceutical injury linked to drugs that may harm a baby.
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain (asphyxia) related to a complicated labor or delivery. If the oxygen supply is cut off or reduced, an infant can develop brain damage which destroys tissue in the cerebral motor cortex and other areas of the brain. This kind of damage can be due to maternal low blood pressure, rupture of the uterus, detachment of the placenta, problems involving the umbilical cord, or delivery trauma.
  • Breech presentation—infants with cerebral palsy are more likely to be in a breech position (feet first) instead of head first on the onset of labor. Complicated labor and delivery can lead to child vascular or respiratory problems, and cause brain damage.
  • Jaundice: more than 50 percent of newborns develop jaundice after birth when bilirubin builds up faster than their livers can break it down. Untreated jaundice can cause brain damage, deafness and CP.

Birth Injury Risk Factors

A number of factors are associated with an increased risk of cerebral palsy. Some factors are genetic, though others are preventable. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading preventable risk factors are disruption of the oxygen supply during birth (birth hypoxia), which may account for up to 10 percent of CP cases, and infection among mothers.

Infection of the placental membranes (chorioamnionitis) is associated with an increased risk of CP for children born full-term. Chorioamnionitis has been found to account for 12 percent of CP cases among children born full-term and 28 percent of CP cases among children born prematurely.

Having the proper vaccinations are critical for reducing the risk of some diseases that affect the development of a child. Physicians should make sure mothers are vaccinated. Certain maternal infections can significantly increase cerebral palsy risk to the baby, including the following:

  • German measles (rubella)
  • Chickenpox (varicella)
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Herpes
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Syphilis
  • Zika Virus
  • Other high risk factors include the following:
  • Infant illness—bacterial meningitis, viral encephalitis, untreated jaundice
  • Complicated births—breech births, low birth weight, premature births

Early Signs of Cerebral Palsy

The first signs of cerebral palsy usually appear in the early months after birth. Infants will frequently have a delay in development, and may be slow to learn to roll over, sit, crawl, and walk. Some infants have abnormal or undeveloped muscle tone.

A decreased muscle tone, or hypotonia, can make babies appear relaxed, while an increased muscle tone, or hypertonia, may make them look stiff or rigid. Children with CP can be seen with an unusual posture and favor one side of the body. Some warning signs include:

  • Head lags when picked up
  • Child feels stiff or floppy
  • Child doesn’t roll over
  • Baby has no hand dexterity
  • Infant crawls in an off-kilter manner

Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of CP can vary greatly, and generally appear during infancy or preschool years. The disability associated with cerebral palsy may affect one limb or one side of the body, or the whole body. The brain disorder causing cerebral palsy doesn’t change with time, so the symptoms usually don’t worsen with age. Movement and coordination problems associated with cerebral palsy may include:

  • Variations in muscle tone
  • Stiff muscles
  • Exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Involuntary movements
  • Delays in reaching motor skill milestones
  • Favoring one side of the body
  • Difficulty walking
  • Excessive drooling—problems with swallowing
  • Difficulty eating
  • Delays in speech development
    Brain abnormalities associated with cerebral palsy also may contribute to other neurological problems, including the following:
  • Difficulty with hearing and vision
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal touch or pain perceptions
  • Mental health conditions
  • Urinary incontinence

Types of Cerebral Palsy

The specific kind of cerebral palsy will be determined by the extent, type, and location of a child’s brain abnormalities. Doctors often classify CP according to movement disorders involved, including:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy—the most common type of the disorder. Characterized by stiff muscles and awkward movements. Spastic hemiplegia usually affects the arm or hand on one side of the body. Children with spastic hemiplegia generally walk later and on the tips of their toes because of tight heel tendons. The arm or leg on the affected side are frequently shorter and thinner. Some children will develop scoliosis. Spastic hemiplegia may also cause seizures and speech impairments.
  • Spastic diplegia involves muscle stiffness, typically in the legs. Reflexes in the legs are hyperactive. Children may require a walker or leg braces. Intelligence and language skills are usually unaffected.
  • Spastic quadriplegia is the most severe form of cerebral palsy and is associated with intellectual disability. It is caused by brain damage or brain malformations. Children will often have severe stiffness in their limbs and trouble walking.
  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy (athetoid, choreoathetoid, and dystonic cerebral palsies) is characterized by slow and uncontrollable movements of the limbs. Hyperactivity in the muscles of the face and tongue, difficulty walking, problems talking and hearing are also signs.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy affects balance and depth perception, leading to poor coordination and walking issues. There may be difficulty with certain movements like writing or buttoning a shirt.

Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

Muscle weakness and coordination problems can contribute to a number of complications either during childhood or later in life. Developing health issues may include the following:

  • Eye muscle imbalance—may affect visual fixation and tracking.
  • Lung disease and breathing disorders
  • Neurological conditions—people with cerebral palsy are likely to develop movement disorders or worsened neurological symptoms over time.
  • Osteoarthritis—muscle spasticity may lead to the early onset of painful degenerative bone diseases
  • Mental health conditions—the challenges of coping with disabilities may contribute to depression.
  • Epilepsy

Cincinnati Birth Injury Lawsuits

The Lyon Firm has experience trying medical malpractice cases, and has the ability to build birth trauma and birth injury cases with the help of obstetricians and medical experts to present the highest quality case on the injured plaintiff’s behalf.

Birth trauma lawsuits and hospital negligence claims may result in large settlements that help recover medical costs for an injured plaintiff’s future.

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A Voice for Those who have suffered 

Why are these cases important?

 When management or individuals fail to provide a sufficient level of care, victims may seek legal recourse and file suit against the negligent parties. Medical malpractice lawsuits improve the quality of healthcare by holding physicians and hospitals responsible when they fall below a professional standard of care. 

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Questions about Delivery Malpractice Cases

Can I File A Lawsuit?

Each birth injury case and instance of hospital negligence is different and must be investigated. Medical records and testimony can provide insights into the root cause of a birth injury. The Lyon Firm works with medical experts to bring legal action when necessary.

If you have been injured in a childbirth injury or your child has suffered, The Lyon Firm will review your case. Once your medical goals have been discussed following a birth injury, it is crucial to set up a plan to help pay for the medical costs associated with the birth injury in question.

Obtaining a settlement is not an easy task but an experienced attorney can assist you in a big way. Once the lawsuit is filed, an attorney can present your case with evidence and testimony in the discovery phase, which will begin the settlement process.

What is an Apgar Score?

Apgar tests are performed on infants one minute after birth and five minutes after birth. The first test is done to examine how the child handled the birthing process, whereas the second test is done to see how the child is fairing outside of the mother’s womb.

The minimum score a baby can obtain is a zero and the maximum is ten; the test consists of five categories and the baby is ranked 0-2 for each category (zero for negative results and two for excellent results). The five categories measure:

  • breathing effort;
  • heart rate;
  • muscle tone;
  • reflex/grimace response;
  • skin color.

Initially, the Apgar test was assumed to be independent of a child’s future health; the tests were mere indications of how an infant was getting acclimated with surviving on his own and whether or not any appropriate medical procedures needed to be ordered.

However, a recent study and article produced by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) indicates that a lower Apgar score during the five-minute test is related to higher death rates for neonatal infants (immediate post birth) and post-neonatal infants (one month to one year after birth).

Specifically, it was found that infants who scored 0-3 on their five-minute Apgar test had a 35 percent chance of death within the first week after birth, a 3 percent chance of death between 7-28 days of birth, and a 5 percent chance of death within one year of birth. Deaths were typically a result of anoxia or asphyxia (types of suffocation).

The study produced by the NEJM was conducted in Scotland and consisted of one million births between 1992 and 2010. Another study produced in 2013 by the Public Library of Science (PLoS) revealed similar implications.

According to this study, within one month of birth, 58% of babies who scored a one on the Apgar did not survive, 33 percent of babies who scored a two on the Apgar did not survive, and 19% of all babies who scored a three on the Apgar did not survive.  The mortality rate for babies who initially received low Apgar scores, but lived past one month of life decreased astoundingly.

After surviving past one month, only 3 percent of babies who scored a one did not survive over a year, 3% of babies who scored a two did not survive over a year, and 4% of babies who scored a three did not survive.

These results are analogous with those from the NEJM; while the mortality rate is high within the first month of birth for infants with low Apgar scores, it decreases significantly after the first month.

What is Bradycardia?

Bradycardia is the slowing of the heart rate below for a ten minute period. If a baby has severe bradycardia, their brain may not be getting enough oxygen. Brain damage begins within 10 minutes.

The variability in oxygen deprivation will vary, depending on the fetal reserve. If an infant has a full fetal oxygen reserve, it will take a longer bradycardia to result in a brain injury or birth injury. Generally, if a baby can be delivered within 10 minutes after a bradycardia, the child will not suffer birth injury.

What is Tachycardia?

Tachycardia is the opposite of bradycardia, and describes when a heart rate is greater than 150-160 beats per minute. A sustained heart rate above 150 can suggest the possibility of fetal distress because a primary cause of tachycardia is oxygen deprivation. A normal fetal heart rate is somewhere between 115 and 150.

What Are Declarations?

Decelerations are drops in the fetal heart rate. Some decelerations are considered normal, but still the fetus loses oxygen during each deceleration. Repeated decelerations may lead to acidosis, hypoxia, and ischemia, and ultimately birth injury.

What Prescriptions Are Linked with Birth Defects?

Children are incredibly vulnerable to dangerous prescription drugs while developing in a mother’s womb. Unfortunately, several medications may interfere with proper development and contribute to various types of physical and mental birth defects. Some of these medications include the following:

  • •    SSRIs: antidepressants including Paxil, Lexapro, Effexor, Prozac, and Zoloft
    •    PPIs (prescription antacids): include Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid
    •    Accutane
    •    Cholesterol-controlling statins: Crestor
    •    Depakote
    •    Topamax (topiramate)
Why hire the Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers.  The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

 Experience:  Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Medical Malpractice Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury. Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.

Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.

Results:  Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results in personal injury,  automotive product liability, medical negligence, construction accidents, and auto dealership negligence cases.  The cases have involved successfully litigating against some of  the largest companies in the world

Learn About the Medical Malpractice Legal Process

Video: Investigating Medical Malpractice

The process for investigating a medical malpractice claims involves the following steps: 

  1. Gather a full and informed history from the family addressing their concerns and thoughts on what went wrong; 
  2. Gather the complete medical records including film studies, if any; 
  3. Review of the records and applicable medical literature by attorneys; 
  4. Review of the records by a qualified physician practicing in the relevant areas on standard of care and causation; 
  5. Final consultation with expert to review opinions;
  6. Signing of Affidavit of Merit by the Expert before case filing, for cases where medical malpractice is identified. 

Cerebral Palsy Settlements

Following a Birth Injury, The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for plaintiffs and families against hospitals and negligent physicians to recover just compensation. 

Birth Trauma: Infant Brain Injury

(Hamilton County, Ohio)

A former Lyon Firm client suffered substantial hypoxic brain injury at birth, resulting in cerebral palsy injury due to a delay in physicians and nurses recognizing a hypoxic event. It was alleged that the hospital misinterpreted the fetal monitoring strips leading to confusion in the delivery room and causing the preventable event. 

The hospital delayed in producing the critical fetal monitoring strips, but through discovery the evidence was discovered, as was the alleged delivery malpractice. 

The injury settlement will provide for life-long care and fund a life care plan to assist in home health needs and transportation.