Birth injuries can include any kind of injury to a mother or child during the birthing process. Birth injuries can be temporary or cause long-lasting or even life-long damage. Although some forms of birth injury are unavoidable, it’s thought that nearly 50% of all birth injuries could be avoided with proper identification and planning, according to the Birth Injury Guide. In these cases, it’s possible that medical malpractice might have occurred to cause the injury.
Medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or surgeon, or health care facility, such as a clinic, hospital, or emergency room, does not exercise a proper standard of care, which results in the serious injury or death of a patient. That being said, not all birth injuries are a result of malpractice; sometimes a birth injury may occur from an unfortunate or natural outcome.
Common causes of birth injuries include:
- Premature birth: This is often outside of the control of a doctor. However, if there are indications that premature birth might be a risk, a doctor can prescribe certain medications designed to halt labor. Babies born prematurely can experience a wide variety of health problems which might be temporary or lasting.
- Delayed birth: This may occur due to a variety of reasons; failure to order a Cesarean section or waiting to order one until harm has already come to mother and/or child. Failure to pay attention to fetal monitoring strips which can indicate stress on a baby, especially during prolonged labor, is a common reason for delays in delivery.
- Oxygen deprivation: In situations where the umbilical cord wraps itself around the baby’s neck or is kinked or prolapsed, oxygen deprivation can harm the baby. Additionally, low birth weights or underdeveloped organs in the baby before birth can also result in harmful oxygen deprivation which could lead to lasting damage for the infant.
- Trauma from impact: Impact on delivery such as a baby being dropped, bumped, or otherwise experiencing a sharp impact during delivery can cause trauma to the baby’s health.
- Infection: If the mother or baby has an infection that goes untreated or improperly treated, this can cause a higher risk of complication, injury, and even death for both mother and baby.
- Abnormal position of baby: Babies born breech, face, brow, or shoulder can all experience birth injuries which may have lasting effects. Additionally, these positions can cause great pain for the mother.
- Medical malpractice: Failure to perform a Cesarean section, improper use of forceps, vacuum extractors, labor induction drugs, failure to fetal monitoring strips could all constitute medical malpractice. This may also occur in a far simpler way; failing to plan for a complicated or high-risk delivery can result in unnecessary harm to mother and/or child.
Common birth injuries include:
- Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb’s Palsy)
- Bone fractures
- Caput succedaneum
- Perinatal asphyxia
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage
- Facial paralysis
- Spinal cord injuries
- Cerebral palsy
If you or your baby suffered a birth injury, reach out to a medical malpractice attorney.
If you or your baby suffered a birth injury, it is likely that you will both require additional medical treatment to recover, which means more medical bills. However, you do not have to handle these bills alone. If medical malpractice was involved in the birth injury, it may be possible to seek compensation for damages including but not limited to medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Birth injuries can range from mild and temporary to severe and life-altering, and in worst-case scenarios may lead to death; in this situation, it may be possible to file a wrongful death claim. If you or your baby were injured during delivery, don’t wait to seek legal counsel and learn more about your options for recovery.