The birth injury attorneys of Eisbrouch Marsh are devoted to protecting the legal rights of children and their families who have suffered the life-altering ramifications of medical negligence before, during or after delivery. While no amount of compensation can erase your newborn’s physical pain and suffering, the funds recovered from successful litigation can help ensure your child receives the medical treatment and care he or she need may need throughout the life.
In evaluating a possible medical malpractice lawsuit based on birth injuries, our team performs a detailed review of all medical records associated with the injury. We explore all of the circumstances surrounding neonatal and delivery room care, to determine whether avoidable medical mistakes caused your baby’s harm.
Incidence of birth injuries
In medical terms, the phrase “birth injury” refers to any sort of physical damage incurred by the baby before, during, or immediately after labor. But to the families raising a special needs child due medical negligence, the impact is clearly more significant as they struggle to meet the tremendous economic and emotional hardships that accompany serious birth injuries.
Recent advances in obstetrical care and prenatal diagnoses have actually lowered the incidence of preventable birth injuries over the past two decades. According to recent statistics, birth injuries account for fewer than 2 percent of neonatal deaths and stillbirths, yet 6 to 8 newborns out of every 1,000 suffer some degree of birth trauma during labor and delivery.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that some of the most common injuries include peripheral nerve damage, including brachial plexus injury, skull fractures and soft tissue/organ hemorrhage.
Types of common birth injuries
It is estimated that 50 percent of birth injuries are preventable with proper recognition and anticipation of maternal and fetal risk factors. Sadly, these injuries can be a direct result of negligent medical care, or a mistake made by a midwife, nurse or physician at any time during delivery.
Common birth injuries include:
- Brachial Palsy Injuries (Klumpke’s Palsy and Erb’s Palsy) – an injury to the delicate network of brachial plexus nerves that control movement to the arms and hands. Mild cases may resolve on their own, while severe cases will likely require surgical intervention and physical therapy. The most severe form of a brachial plexus injury may result in complete paralysis.
- Brain Damage – prolonged oxygen deprivation to the fetus can result in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) – permanent brain damage that may cause a child to suffer motor impairments, developmental delays, epilepsy and seizures.
- Bone Fractures – Collarbone fractures are sometimes seen in complicated deliveries such as a breech birth. Treatment will vary depending on the severity and location of the bone fracture.
- Cerebral Palsy – a neurological disorder that can result when part of the fetal brain is damaged due to hypoxia or asphyxia (oxygen deprivation). There is no cure for cerebral palsy, and patients with the condition often have motor coordination problems, seizures, vision, hearing and speech difficulties, and may also suffer cognitive impairment.
- Stillbirth- fetal death.
Risk factors for birth trauma
Pre-existing conditions or factors may contribute to a difficult labor and resulting birth trauma.
These conditions include:
- Macrosemic or large babies, particularly infants who weigh more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces
- Premature babies, those born earlier than 37 weeks
- Maternal obesity
- Abnormal fetal presentation and breech deliveries
- Cephalopelvic disproportion, where the mother’s pelvis prevents a normal vaginal birth
- Instrument-assisted births, using vacuum or forceps
Other contributing factors may not surface until labor is well under way:
- Uterine Rupture
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Umbilical cord entrapment or prolapse
- Abrupted Placenta
Failure to follow proper protocol in the handling of any of these conditions, may cause significant harm to the baby.
Hyperbilirubinemia is a condition common in many newborns. This sort of trauma is another example of the importance diagnosis and treatment to the long-term health of a baby.
Causes of birth injuries
Health care professionals may be held liable for birth injuries if they are found to have deviated from the standard of medical care. Examples of this breach include communication gaps between physicians, failure to recognize labor complications, or failure to respond appropriately once a problem has been identified.
Any of the following actions may amount to medical malpractice:
- Delay in performing a medically necessary C-section
- Failure to perform a Cesarean section
- Inappropriate management of shoulder dystocia
- Failure to respond to fetal distress symptoms
- Excessive or abnormal use of traction (vacuum suction or forceps)
- Failure to diagnose or respond to umbilical cord problems
- Inappropriate administration of Pitocin during labor
- Failure to detect and treat maternal infections such as meningitis
- Failure to properly monitor fetal heart rate before and during delivery
Dedicated to injured children and their families
At Eisbrouch Marsh, our team of birth injury lawyers understands the hardships – both financial and emotional – placed on families and the suffering endured by the injured babies, the most innocent victims of all. We offer a combined 50 years of experience helping families and their children recover maximum damages in cases involving birth injury malpractice. We will work to pursue justice for your loved one, so your family can attain closure, move forward and focus on healing.
Specializing in birth injury lawsuits, our trial attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources to take on insurance companies and health care institutions in the courtroom and win. To learn more about your legal options, please call our offices for a free and confidential case evaluation.
- Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Birth Injuries http://www.lpch.org/DiseaseHealthInfo/HealthLibrary/newborn/ncomnjry.html
- Medscape, Birth Trauma http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/980112-overview
- Up to Date, Neonatal Birth Injuries http://www.uptodate.com/contents/neonatal-birth-injuries
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Expanded Health Data From the New Birth Certificate, 2006 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_05.pdf