There are various complications that can occur during childbirth. Some due to natural causes, but others due to avoidable errors made by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
Mothers and newborns are at risk of suffering injuries during the birthing process if medical professionals don’t perform their duties as per the stipulated standards of care.
Birth injuries can have grave consequences such as lifelong disability or permanent damage on an infant’s health causing financial and emotional strain to affected families.
What Is A Birth Injury?
This refers to any kind of damage or physical harm to a baby during pregnancy, labor, delivery or immediately after birth. This includes traumatic birth injuries caused by mechanical force, oxygen deprivation also referred to as birth asphyxia, neonatal infections, just to mention a few.
What Are The Common Causes Of Birth Injuries?
Although there are various ways in which a newborn can be injured before, during and immediately after birth the most common include:
- Failure to perform the duties that any reasonable medical professional should carry out under the circumstances that led to the injury.
- Failure to conduct specialized testing on the mother during pregnancy.
- Failure to detect and address changes in fetus position.
- Failure to refer a high-risk mother to a specialized professional or facility for adequate care.
- Failure to communicate pregnancy or delivery complications to other medical professionals involved in the delivery.
- Failure to properly diagnose and treat pregnancy and birth complications such as:
- Maternal infections
- Placental abruption
- Premature rupture of membranes
- Umbilical cord entrapment
- Health conditions or risks for which the C-section is recommended.
- Wrongful use of delivery instruments
Maternal health and medical professionals involved in the delivery who demonstrate some form of medical negligence may be sued for negligence for failing to adhere to the required standards of care.
What Are The Common Types Of Birth Injuries?
There are various ways in which a newborn can acquire injuries during or shortly after birth. Birth injuries vary widely in their severity and the extent of impact they can have on a baby’s short and long-term health. The most common sites for newborn birth-related injuries are the head, neck and shoulders. However, other parts such as the face, abdomen and limbs are also at risk depending on how the birthing process is carried out.
The Most Common Types Of Birth Injuries Include:
- Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy)
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE),
- Hypoxia (inadequate supply of oxygen to the brain)
- Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
- Internal hemorrhaging
- Spinal cord injuries
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Shoulder dystocia
- Facial paralysis
- Clavicle fracture
- Head trauma
- Brain damage
In severe cases, negligent medical procedures and conduct during and shortly after birth may also result in wrongful death of the newborn.
Any kind of harm inflicted on a newborn during the birth process can be traumatic for the parents. In this case you have a right to seek compensation for economic and non-economic losses.
Can Birth Injuries Be Prevented?
Most birth injuries can be prevented by medical professionals carefully and consistently monitoring the mother and baby and by making prompt interventions. This includes quality care throughout the pregnancy, birthing process and neonatal period. If a medical professional fails to adhere to the stipulated standard of care or provides inadequate care, it’s considered as negligence. If this negligence results in a birth injury or harm to the mother, it constitutes medical malpractice.
What Is The First Step After Experiencing A Birth Injury?
If you have experienced a birth injury due to poor medical care, the legal system entitles the child and parents financial compensation from the healthcare providers. Your first step in seeking monetary compensation is finding an experienced birth injury attorney.
Who Is A Birth Injury Attorney?
This is a legal professional who specializes in representing plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries. Medical malpractice suits are filed when there are allegations that medical institutions and professionals have breached the standard of care resulting in a birth injury.
Reasons To Hire A Birth Injury Attorney
Although it’s not mandatory that you hire a birth injury attorney, having legal representation in a medical malpractice lawsuit is recommended.
Without extensive legal knowledge and experience in handling birth injury claims it’s challenging for the average person to gather the required evidence and build a strong case for a fair settlement. Hiring an attorney who is qualified and experienced in handling birth injury claims avails a host of benefits. Some core responsibilities of a birth injury attorney include;
- Build a strong case against the medical professionals who delivered the child.
- File the case with the appropriate court of law.
- Gather supporting evidence such as relevant medical records and witness testimonies.
- Consult with legal and medical experts.
- Communicate with the hospital and insurance provider on the plaintiff’s behalf.
- Negotiate a fair settlement based on the extent of your losses.
The first thing that a birth injury attorney does is to investigate your claim and determine if there’s sufficient medical negligence evidence to file a lawsuit. This investigation usually commences with collecting records pertaining to the birth and prenatal care of the baby. This includes all medical records from the medical facility where the baby was born.
After the birth injury attorney receives these records, he will review them and identify all evidence that supports medical negligence. He will then go ahead and hire expert witnesses to review the case and give a professional opinion whether medical malpractice did occur. These experts are medical professionals and if according to their opinion medical malpractice occurred the birth injury attorney can go ahead and file a lawsuit against the defendants. This usually includes the doctors, nurses and medical facility where the delivery took place.
It’s important to note that the statute of limitations for filing birth injury lawsuits varies from state to state.
The injured child and parents are entitled to separate claims for damages. Parents have a separate medical malpractice claim and are entitled to damages for past and future medical expenses and any other costs they may incur when taking care of the child until adulthood.