Common Types of Birth Injuries Caused by Malpractice
Some of the most common serious birth injuries to newborns are
- Brachial plexus palsy, which is also known as Erb’s palsy and is usually caused by excessive stretching of the neck during delivery. Damage to the nerves that control movement and feeling in the shoulder, arm and hand leave the child unable to use the affected limb. Daily physical therapy is often needed to fix the problem.
- Bone fractures due to rough handling or complicated delivery.
- Cephalohematoma, which is a lump on the top of the head where blood has collected. The condition itself is harmless, but it can indicate other problems caused by the misuse of forceps or a vacuum during delivery
- Cerebral palsy, which is a lifelong physical and/or mental developmental disorder that can be caused by problems during fetal development or by the improper restriction of air to the baby during labor and delivery.
- Facial paralysis caused by nerve damage, which can result from mishandling forceps during a vaginal birth or a scalpel during a caesarean section.
- Intracranial hemorrhage, which is bleeding inside the skull and possibly life-threatening. If a hemorrhage is not detected and stopped quickly during labor and delivery, the baby can die, go blind, become paralyzed, or suffer brain damage.
- Spinal cord injuries, which, like bone fractures, can be caused by rough handling or birthing complications.
Mothers are also at risk for birth injuries. Women who receive insufficient monitoring and care during labor and delivery can suffer seizures and strokes from spikes in blood pressure (preeclampsia), life-threatening blood loss, or infections from improperly sterilized equipment.
Fortunately, birth injuries occur rarely. Across the United States, only about 5 in 1,000 newborns suffer any physical or brain injury during delivery. Mothers are even safer. U.S. birth injuries rates for women are lower than 1 in 1,000.
When a birth injury does occur, however, it devastates a family. Not only does the mother or child suffer from what could be a preventable medical error, the victim can face a lifetime of pain, physical disability, intellectual deficits, and therapy. When such a tragedy happens in Cleveland, Ohio, partnering with a medical malpractice lawyer to secure compensation and monetary damages represents the best way to achieve justice. In some cases, payments for the emotional distress experienced by the child or the parents may also be warranted.
Proving a Birth Injury Resulted From Medical Malpractice Is Difficult
Succeeding with any type of medical malpractice claim requires proving three things:
- The health care provider, hospital, or clinic named as the defendant owed you a duty to protect you from harm.
- The defendant failed to meet that duty by acting negligently or recklessly.
- The injury you suffered resulted directly from the negligent or reckless act.
Negligence by a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist, pharmacist, or health care facility comes down to not following widely recognized treatment protocols or adhering to safety regulations. Recklessness could mean providing care while drunk or on drugs.
As an example of how the three criteria for proving malpractice in a birth injury case could be met, think of a baby who had only normal prenatal test results but was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after being born. If evidence shows that the obstetrician who managed the birthing team failed to order sufficient oxygen monitoring or to respond quickly when an airflow problem was detected, a claim for malpractice could succeed. The parent who brought the claim on behalf of the child and an Ohio medical malpractice lawyer would still need to convince a judge or jury that the developmental disorder did not originate in the womb, though.
If you think you might have a birth injury claim, request a free consultation with a Cleveland, OH, medical malpractice lawyer at Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman. Call us at (800) 678-3318 or schedule an appointment online.