Birth Injury Claims
Hospitals and medical professionals have a duty to provide reasonable care in labor and delivery. Fortunately, this care is often realized as most doctors, nurses, and medical professionals act with extreme care during the birth process. But things can and sometimes do go wrong, and the consequences to mom and baby can be devastating, life-long, or even life ending.
Sadly, there are instances when those responsible for care during pregnancy and childbirth lead families to believe there was a genetic issue or something went awry in utero. But how would you know? Perhaps the mother was given too much medication during labor. Was a C-section ordered in time? Did the baby lack oxygen which can often result in brain damage or cerebral palsy? Did the doctor pull or push on the baby’s neck too hard damaging nerves or the brain, which can often lead to Erb’s palsy or shoulder dystocia?
Some families may never know the truth. The medical establishment in many instances may not always be forthcoming about their mistakes. We know how to try to get the answers families need and the compensation they potentially deserve.
North Carolina Birth Injury Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation
If you or your baby suffered an injury during birth or in utero, or you know someone who did, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. Compensation may be in order for:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of care and family duties
- Punitive damages
- Wrongful death
- Funeral expenses for the mother or baby
Injuries to Mom
American women are 6X as likely to die during pregnancy as mothers in Scandinavian countries and 3X more likely than mothers in Canada.
Nearly 60 percent of those deaths are preventable, according to a 2017 report. NPR.org found some disturbing trends in the U.S. when they teamed up with ProPublica (a nonprofit nonpartisan investigatory journalism organization) to investigate maternal mortality in the U.S.
- More American women are dying of pregnancy-related complications than any other developed country. The rate of women dying is only rising in the U.S.
- There's a hodgepodge of hospital protocols for dealing with potentially fatal complications, allowing for treatable complications to become lethal.
- Hospitals — including those with intensive care units for newborns — can be woefully unprepared for a maternal emergency.
- Federal and state funding show only 6% of block grants for "maternal and child health" actually go to the health of mothers.
- In the U.S., some doctors entering the growing specialty of maternal-fetal medicine were able to complete that training without ever spending time in a labor-delivery unit.
Injuries to Baby
The most common reason birth injuries occur is due to communication errors among the delivery team, says the Department of Health and Human Services.
Whether a misdiagnosis, medication error, or inattention to fetal distress signs, errors can have lifelong financial and physical, and emotional consequences. Here are some of the more common diagnoses that can potentially stem from injuries during birth.
Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects control of muscle coordination and bodily movement. Most children with cerebral palsy have it at birth yet symptoms may not be diagnosed for a few years.
While cerebral palsy can be the result of many causes, unfortunately childbirth is one of them. Here are some indicators to look for in utero or during delivery that can potentially result in trauma and a cerebral palsy diagnosis:
- Baby’s heart rate is too fast or too slow
- Umbilical cord causes lack of oxygen to the baby
- C-section is not ordered in time
- Baby is too large for a vaginal birth or too small to be born safely
- Infections the mother had during pregnancy
Delay in Ordering a Caesarian Section
If a child suffers from distress during the birthing process, doctors will often order an emergency C-section. It might be ordered if the baby’s heart rate slows as a result of the mother’s drop in blood pressure due to blood loss, slowed labor, uterine rupture, or many other delivery issues.
Delayed C-sections can result in a host of problems, the largest of which is lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain (hypoxia). Other risks are:
- Brain damage that can result in mental deficiencies
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Lung or heart problems
Improper Forceps and Vacuum Use
When a baby has difficulty exiting the birth canal the doctor may use forceps, vacuums, or other tools as an aid.
Improper use of these tools can cause complications including:
- Fractured skull
- Hemorrhaged retina
- Brachial plexus (shoulder dystocia and Erb’s palsy)
- Brain hemorrhage
- Cerebral palsy
If not treated these conditions can lead to paralysis, intellectual disability, and in the case of a hemorrhage, death.
If not used properly your baby could suffer neck, spine, or brain damage, potentially resulting in:
- Facial nerve damage
- Spinal cord damage which could lead to partial or complete paralysis
- Brain damage which can lead to loss of motor functions including cerebral palsy
The mother can suffer damage from improper forceps use too, including:
- Rupture of the uterus
- Urethra, bladder, and genital tract damage
- Weakening of the pelvic area
- Blood loss resulting in anemia
Spinal Cord Injuries
Whether a bruise, complete severance, or misdiagnosis of a spinal cord deformation in utero, spinal cord injuries can lead to life-long problems. Some are treatable, some are not. Fortunately spinal cord injuries in infants and children are rare – only 5%, according to Boston Children’s Hospital.
Some of the factors that may lead to spinal cord injury include difficult delivery, breech birth and other abnormal birth positions, the torque and stresses on the baby’s spine during birth or the doctor pulling and pushing, and hyperextension of the baby’s head, among other things.
Erb’s Palsy, or Brachial Plexus Injury (BPI)
Erb’s palsy is a form of nerve damage involving the brachial plexus nerves – the nerves that travel down the arm from the spinal cord. Erb’s palsy generally occurs when:
- The baby is exiting the birth canal as the head is turned in one direction while the arm is being pulled in the opposite direction
- Excessive pulling on the baby’s shoulders
- When the baby is delivered breech
Erb’s Palsy affects the movement of a child’s upper arm, and it can also impact movement and rotation of the lower arm.
Paralysis of the face, either fully or partially, can occur after some deliveries. If doctors are not careful handling your baby in the delivery room, your child’s facial nerve can be temporarily or permanently damaged. This type of paralysis is most noticeable when an infant cries.
Other Birth Injuries and Their Potential Causes
- Anesthesia-related complications
- Aspiration of Meconium
- Brain damage or head trauma
- Cystic fibrosis
- Failing to record or properly address fetal changes
- Failure to closely monitor diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, kidney disease, thyroid disease and other conditions
- Failure to deliver the baby in a timely manner
- Failure to diagnose birth defects that could have been treated in utero
- Failure to perform proper pre-natal testing
- Failure to properly monitor the baby during labor and delivery
- Failure to recognize an ectopic pregnancy
- Inadequately monitoring the mother during pregnancy and labor
- Injuries resulting from Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
- Misinterpreting test results during pregnancy or failing to conduct necessary tests
- Neglecting to perform required tests
- Neglecting to refer high-risk patients to specialists
- Prescribing experimental drugs without properly informing patient of the associated risks
- Tay-Sachs disease
- Torticollis (wry neck)
Get a FREE North Carolina Birth Injury Case Evaluation
Birth injuries may have a wide range of life-altering consequences on the baby and family. If you or your baby suffered an injury during birth or in utero, or you know someone who did, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. An experienced team of professionals will evaluate the unique circumstances of your birth injury case for free and let you know if you may have a claim.