Birth injuries can be caused by a number of different reasons and sometimes for no discernible reason at all, but by far the most common cause of a birth injury is medical malpractice. Birth injuries can put a newborn infant in pain, require additional medical care or surgeries, or leave lifelong permanent physical injuries or cognitive impairments. And one in every five infant deaths is the result of a birth injury.
Birth injuries are painful and traumatic for mother and child and other close family members. They can be costly to treat and leave the parents and child with a lifetime of additional expenses and challenges with daily living. If something went wrong with the birth of your child, you deserve to know what happened and be compensated when medical negligence is the reason behind the injury. At Bertling Law Group, we can help you find the answers to your questions and hold responsible parties accountable to you. We are a medical malpractice law firm devoted to helping injured patients and their families. We’ve been practicing medical malpractice law for over 30 years and know how to get you the help you need. Call our office for a free consultation to find out how we can help.
How Does Medical Negligence Lead to Birth Injuries?
Doctors and nurses have to carefully monitor both the mother and the fetus throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery and provide adequate care at every stage. Maternal monitoring includes taking a complete medical history of the mother, noting any prior difficult pregnancies or births, ordering genetic counseling as needed, and keeping an eye on risk factors such as gestational diabetes or inappropriate weight gain. Fetal monitoring can include performing ultrasounds and keeping an eye out for signs of fetal distress such as abnormal heart rate or acidic blood.
Following are just a small handful of the numerous serious or life-threatening birth injuries that can occur due to medical negligence during pregnancy, labor or delivery:
Cerebral palsy – This motor disability affects the individual’s ability to move or maintain balance and posture throughout life. CP happens due to oxygen deprivation to the brain of the fetus during labor and delivery. Cognitive impairments can therefore accompany CP as well. Failing to order a c-section or delaying delivery are common negligent causes of CP.
HIE – Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy is another brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation in labor and delivery. Delayed delivery or failing to respond properly to an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck (nuchal cord) can result in HIE.
Erb’s palsy – Erb’s palsy is characterized by muscle weakness in the arm or shoulder. It can be caused by applying too much pressure during delivery or if the infant’s body impacts the mother’s pubic bone. These actions can stretch or tear the peripheral nerves in the shoulders, sometimes causing permanent paralysis to the hands and arms. Related birth injuries are shoulder dystocia, brachial plexus injury, and Klumpke’s palsy.
Broken clavicle – If the fetus is mishandled during birth, the doctor can fracture the baby’s collarbone.
Lacerations – In a negligently performed c-section, the fetus can receive cuts and lacerations of varying degrees of severity.
Facial paralysis – Facial paralysis can come about due to the improper use of forceps or other mishandling during birth that puts excessive pressure on the seventh cranial nerve. The result can be permanent facial paralysis.
Peritonitis – Also known as pneumonitis, this condition is a respiratory or abdominal infection that can result from an unreasonably long or unduly stressful delivery. This condition can be life-threatening.
Complications during pregnancy and birth are not uncommon and are not always unexpected. For instance, in about one in twenty births, the baby presents feet or buttocks first instead of head first. Many of the injuries described above happen because the fetus is mishandled during a breech birth or through the improper use of instruments such as forceps or vacuum extractors.
Obstetricians and obstetric nurses are trained to look out for possible complications and deal with them appropriately. Negligence in the hospital can include nurses failing to call for a doctor in time, doctors failing to order a timely c-section or hospitals failing to clear the OR for an emergency c-section, unreasonably delaying delivery, mishandling the fetus during birth, anesthesia errors, nursing negligence, and much more.
Get Help After a Birth Injury Caused by Medical Malpractice
If something went wrong in the birthing room, we’ll help you figure out what happened and see whether it lines up with the hospital’s explanation or not. If negligence caused an injury to mother or child, you can trust that our firm will work to obtain compensation for the injured patient and force the hospital to take steps to ensure this kind of harm does not happen again. After a birth injury in a California hospital, a VA medical center, or a military hospital nationwide, call Bertling Law Group for a free consultation at 844-295-7558. We won’t charge any fee unless we are successful in recovering compensation on your behalf.