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Medical Malpractice and Birth Injuries

Common Birth Injuries Caused by Negligent Doctors and Hospitals

Labor and delivery can be a traumatic experience for every parent.  There is a lot that happens with both mother and child. We rely on the expertise of doctors and nurses to perform their duties with the highest degree of care, ensuring a healthy delivery.  Unfortunately, some hospital staff breach their duty of care during this critical time, causing irreparable harm. While birth trauma can happen in any delivery, if it is caused by medical malpractice, you might be entitled to compensation.

Medical malpractice or doctor negligence can cause several different birth injuries, including:

  • Bone Fractures
  • Brain Injuries
  • Brachial Plexus Injuries

Birth Injury Bone Fractures

Bone fractures, particularly to an infant’s clavicle, can occur during labor and delivery.  A broken or fractured bone may not be immediately evident on an infant. Signs that a bone has been damaged during or immediately following delivery include severe swelling, tenderness, or the lack of movement of a limb or affected area.   Birth injury bone fractures that occur as a result of medical malpractice are usually caused by forced delivery techniques. If a doctor fails to recognize fetal distress and does not order a c-section, there is a much greater chance for a prolonged, difficult labor that could result in a bone fracture.  

It is essential that a doctor delivering an infant determine if the child is too large to fit through the birthing canal to avoid placing unnecessary stress on both the mother and infant.  Doctors should never use extreme force to deliver an infant due to their delicate bone structure. If your baby received a broken bone or fracture during delivery, the doctor or hospital might be held liable for the birth injury.

Brain Injuries

One of the most serious and devastating birth injuries caused by medical malpractice is damage to an infant’s brain.  Many traumatic brain injuries can occur during labor and delivery that can cause Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and Cerebral Palsy.  

HIE is a serious brain injury that occurs when there is a lack of oxygen or decreased blood flow to the brain.  If hospital staff fail to recognize that a fetus is not getting enough oxygen or other signs of fetal distress, then traumatic brain injuries such as HIE are more likely to occur.  The treatment for HIE, hypothermia therapy, must be ordered immediately to be effective. Failure to recognize the signs of oxygen deprivation or order the necessary treatments may result in liability against the doctor and/or hospital.

Cerebral Palsy is another serious birth injury that can occur because of a lack of oxygen to the brain.  Prolonged, arduous labors often put stress on an infant and can deprive the brain of sufficient oxygen resulting in a brain injury.  Doctors and hospital staff are required to act quickly to signs of distress, ordering emergency C-sections where needed, and using life-saving measures to prevent birth injury or trauma.  

Brachial Plexus Injuries

The brachial plexus is the network of nerves responsible for sending signals from your spinal cord to your upper extremities (shoulders, arms, and hands).  Damage to this network of nerves is called a brachial plexus injury and can have lifelong consequences, particularly when it occurs at birth. Brachial plexus injuries can leave an infant paralyzed in their extremity. One of the most common brachial plexus injuries is known as Erb’s Palsy, resulting in paralysis to the upper arm.  Doctors who use excessive force, fail to recognize signs of distress, or a high birth weight could cause damage to an infant’s brachial plexus resulting in numerous health risks.

Birth injuries caused by medical malpractice and negligence are devastating events that should never occur.  If your infant was the victim of improper medical care, you need to seek legal representation immediately. A knowledgeable birth injury attorney can assist you in determining your rights and getting recovery for your family.  You deserve compensation for any wrongdoing that occurred before, during, or after childbirth.