Know Your Rights and These Common Birth Injuries Due to Medical Negligence
There are times when birth injuries occur that are sadly beyond anyone’s control. Sometimes, a baby may have a birth defect, genetic condition or chromosomal abnormality that caused their condition. Other times however, a newborn’s birth injury is due to a mistake that was made prenatally, during labor and delivery, or shortly after birth. Birth injuries can be catastrophic and life-changing, with many birth injuries being incurable. Parents and their newborns are left to pick up the pieces and navigate life after their child was harmed, which can be quite costly. These injuries often create great financial costs due to the need for medical treatment, therapies, surgeries, care, and many other needs the child may have as a result of their injury. When such an injury occurs as a result of a mistake made by a hospital, doctor’s office or individual on the child’s medical team, birth injuries due to medical negligence could be compensated under Oregon law.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is something that occurs prenatally, during labor and delivery, or shortly after birth that causes an injury to the newborn. Some birth injuries may be mild (i.e. bruising), while other birth injuries can be catastrophic such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Many of these birth injuries are permanent and may require a lifetime of care for the child as a result.
Common Birth Injuries Due to Medical Negligence
Sadly, there are many types of injuries that a newborn may suffer as a result of medical negligence. Examples of these birth injuries include the following:
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy – Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a birth injury that occurs as a result of a loss of blood flow (ischemia) and oxygen (hypoxia) to the brain. The loss of blood flow and oxygen leads to brain cell death, often leaving the child significantly brain damaged. While there is hypothermic cooling treatment that is an option if HIE is suspected, the child is likely to still suffer some degree of cognitive effects, and if not performed in time then the treatment will not benefit the child.
- Kernicterus – This is a serious birth injury that is almost always due to medical malpractice. This is because kernicterus is the result of uncontrolled jaundice. Jaundice is common at birth and is easily treatable. It is the result of an elevated bilirubin level in the blood. While easily treatable, if a medical provider fails to test the newborn for jaundice and fails to properly treat the jaundice, it leads to bilirubin entering the tissue in the brain, creating catastrophic brain damage. Children with this birth injury will often suffer significant cognitive effects, and may require a great deal of assistance throughout their lifetime. This birth injury is generally entirely preventable which is why if your child suffered from kernicterus, it is wise to seek counsel from an attorney who can review your child’s case.
- Cerebral Palsy – Cerebral palsy is another birth injury that is often, but not always due to medical malpractice. Cerebral palsy can be caused by genetic, chromosomal abnormalities and abnormalities in brain growth while in utero, it most often is the result of something that occurred prenatally, during labor and delivery, or shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy is often the result of a loss of oxygen, leading to brain damage. There are many different ways in which medical malpractice can cause this birth injury, such as failure to recognize and treat umbilical cord problems (i.e. umbilical cord prolapse), failure to intervene in the case of fetal distress during labor and delivery, or failure to adequately secure the airway at birth if the child is experiencing respiratory distress.
- Brachial plexus injuries – This birth injury is one of the most commonly occurring birth injuries. While common, it can cause a great deal of impairment and pain in the afflicted newborn. Brachial plexus injuries occur as a result of damage to one or more of the brachial plexus nerves that run between the neck, and shoulders. These important nerves control the function in the arms, hands, shoulders, and chest. If injured, it can cause great deficit, including paralysis of the affected arm, shoulders or hand as well as weakness and pain. Some babies require intensive physical therapy or surgery, while other babies will never regain function due to the nerve damage sustained. Brachial plexus injuries are often due to excessive force used during delivery, delivery of a child that is too large for a vaginal delivery (macrosomia) and delivery of a baby vaginally in the setting of cephalopelvic disproportion amongst many other causes. Many of these complications leading to brachial plexus injuries can be anticipated and prevented with proper measures such as opting for a c-section.
How Are These Birth Injuries Due to Medical Malpractice?
Sadly, as mentioned above, birth injuries due to medical negligence is a real problem and can have long-lasting effects. Negligence refers to an instance in which a doctor, other healthcare provider or entity such as a hospital deviate from the standard of care, resulting in harm of an individual. In this case, unfortunately the affected individual is a defenseless newborn whose life may never be the same as a result of a mistake made by another individual or entity. Common ways that these birth injuries can be due to medical malpractice include the following:
- Failure to recognize that a c-section is indicated prior to labor and delivery
- Failure to perform a c-section in the setting of a complicated labor or delivery problems that arise
- Failure to recognize and manage umbilical cord problems such as nuchal cord or umbilical cord prolapse
- Use of excessive force during delivery
- Improper use of assisted delivery tools such as forceps or vacuum extractor
- Failure to recognize signs of fetal distress, leading to injury
- Failure to diagnose jaundice
- Failure to properly treat jaundice
- Failure to perform a c-section or induce labor when there are signs of potential distress prior to labor and delivery
- Inappropriate monitoring of fetal heart rate and contraction patterns
- Overuse of labor inducing drugs
- Allowing for prolonged or arrested labor to continue without intervention
Did Your Newborn Suffer Birth Injuries Due to Medical Negligence in Oregon? We Can Help
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form. We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.
Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles, St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.
We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.