Meeting your new baby should be one of the happiest moments of your life, but sometimes that moment is clouded by unexpected birth injuries. A birth injury can happen during the labor process and may be the result of medical malpractice.
It can cause death, full or partial paralysis, or other long-term or short-term health problems. Infants who survive their birth injury could require extensive medical intervention and long-term care or treatment, causing great financial stress for the family.
Where the doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider is responsible for any birth injury to your infant, you may be eligible to file a birth injury lawsuit against the responsible party or parties.
Understanding Medical Malpractice and Birth Injuries
Medical professionals have a duty to prevent harm to patients, including newborn children. Some professionals, however, fail to meet this standard of care, putting patients and infants at risk of life-threatening and permanent injury.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional does not uphold a certain standard of care for patients. This can be an intentional or unintentional act. When the medical malpractice occurs during childbirth, it can lead to severe harm to the infant.
Among the possible consequences of a birth trauma:
- Full paralysis
- Partial paralysis
- Loss of a limb (or use of a limb)
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation
- Shoulder Dystocia
Preeclampsia is a condition in which the mother—who previously may have had a normal blood pressure—experiences an increase in her blood pressure and possible damage to an organ system, most commonly the liver or kidneys.
In situations where preeclampsia is not treated properly, both mother and infant can suffer life-threatening complications. Severe preeclampsia and preeclampsia that occurs early in the pregnancy also increase the risks to the mother and infant.
Although cerebral palsy can be the result of an infection while in the womb, it is possible that cerebral palsy can be caused by a brain injury caused during birth, or due to situations in which an infant has been deprived of oxygen for too long.
Erb’s palsy occurs when the nerves in the baby’s upper arm suffer damage. It typically occurs during a difficult labor and may be caused by excessive pulling on the shoulders or being delivered in a breech birth.
A brachial plexus injury is one of the most common types of birth injuries. The brachial plexus is a system of nerve fibers that travel from the spinal cord into the neck and arms. An injury to the brachial plexus can affect any section of the brachial plexus nerve fibers, with the severity of the injury depending on the cause and the area injured.
Typically, brachial plexus injuries are caused by excessive application of force to the baby during birth. Other situations that can result in a brachial plexus injury include breech delivery, maternal diabetes, undeveloped muscles in the infant’s neck
A common brachial plexus injury is shoulder dystocia, which happens when the infant’s head is delivered but the shoulders become stuck in the mother’s pelvic area and the doctor applies excessive force to pull the infant through. Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy are other common brachial plexus injuries.
Birth Injury Compensation
Among the forms of birth injury compensation that the family of an infant affected by trauma during birth can seek:
- Past, present, and future medical costs
- Occupational and/or physical therapy
- Parental lost wages
- Pain and suffering
How is a Birth Injury Different from a Birth Defect?
There are some important differences between birth injuries and birth defects. Birth injuries happen during labor or immediately following delivery. They are injuries that occur as the baby is in the process of being born. Birth defects occur as the fetus is developing in the womb and are often, but not only, caused by genetic mutations, toxins, or medications.
Detecting a Birth Injury
Birth injuries may be detected in a number of ways, including via developmental tests, medical tests, and recognizing the signs and symptoms of a birth injury. Not all birth injuries can be detected immediately upon delivery. While some might be apparent right away, others may not be noticeable until your child shows developmental delays.
If you suspect your child has suffered a birth injury, seek medical help from a trusted professional immediately. They will be able to refer you for tests or to a specialist who can offer a diagnosis.
Some birth injuries are more treatable if detected early, which makes it important to speak with a medical professional as soon as possible when you suspect your child has suffered an injury during birth.
Effect of a Birth Injury as Your Child Ages
The overall effects of a birth injury on your child vary depending on the type of birth injury and its severity. Some birth injuries can be treated with surgery and therapy and may resolve as your child develops. Others may impact your child’s day-to-day life and ability to function. Your child may not be able to take part in specific activities such as sports. Severe birth injuries might significantly impair your child’s brain development, making them reliant for life on special caregivers and requiring life-long medical intervention and therapy. Such injuries might also result in permanent disfigurement.
Your child might also seem okay initially after birth, with some symptoms not arising until your child develops or shows signs of lagging behind other children. Motor skill development issues, for example, may not arise until between one and two years of age, as might some intellectual disabilities and speech issues.
Birth Injury Lawyer
If your child has been harmed by a birth injury, you know there’s no amount of money that can undo the damage done. A birth injury lawsuit, however, can help ease the financial burden associated with ongoing medical care and compensate you and your child for pain and suffering.
Contact an experienced birth injury lawyer at Cutter Law today to discuss your situation. Our attorneys can answer your questions and explain your legal rights. We’re committed to ensuring you and your infant receive the financial compensation you’re entitled to.