Know the Common Birth Injuries to Protect Your Loved One’s Rights
The birth of a child is a joyous moment for most parents to be as it is the moment they meet their baby for the first time. While this is the case for most parents, it is not always the case. Unfortunately, there are times when a baby is injured in the process of labor and delivery. While some of these injuries may be minor, others may be more serious and life-threatening. Sadly, some of these injuries may be permanent and cause the child to lead a very different life than they could have lived had they not been injured. While some birth injuries are unavoidable, meaning there is nothing the physician or anyone else could have done to prevent the injury, there are times when a physician or other healthcare provider on your care team may make an error that leads to the injury occurring. While it may be a mistake, it still greatly affects you and your child and therefore is considered to be medical malpractice. There are many common birth injuries that can occur, and you should know them as a parent.
This is because you can protect your loved one’s rights to compensation if your baby suffers a common birth injury. Many times a doctor will claim that the injury is a natural consequence or an inherent risk to the procedure or birthing process. That is often false and meant to hide from liability. Knowing the common birth injuries will allow a victim’s family to be watchful and know what to look for.
Birth Injuries Explained
A birth injury is an injury that occurs during labor and delivery, causing damage to the newborn. Birth injuries can be caused by excessive force, inappropriate manipulation, or due to a lack of oxygen or blood flow to the baby during labor and delivery. While many people think of injuries as trauma such as broken bones, lacerations and deformities, birth injuries can also be internal, such as brain damage due to a lack of oxygen to the brain. Brain injuries and brain damage are often the most devastating type of birth injury.
Common Types of Birth Injuries
- Cerebral Palsy – This devastating birth injury is most often caused by oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery, but can be caused by physical trauma. Many cases of cerebral palsy are due to medical malpractice, meaning that condition could have been preventable. Cerebral palsy is quite devastating, often affecting the way a person walks, talks, thinks, and completes their activities of daily living. Depending on the severity, some children may need lifelong care. This type of injury is often caused by failure to recognize fetal distress, improperly managed umbilical cord prolapse, or failure to resuscitate the baby at birth if the newborn was in respiratory distress
- Brain injury – Brain injuries can result from trauma during the delivery or oxygen deprivation. Examples of brain injuries include subarachnoid hemorrages, cerebral hemorrhages, or cephalohematomas
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy – This type of birth injury is due to oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) and loss of blood flow (ischemia) occurring during labor and delivery. This is a catastrophic birth injury, often causing significant brain damage. Babies may improve with cooling therapy if administered immediately, but are likely to suffer many effects from the birth injury. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is often due to medical malpractice
- Brachial Plexus Injury – Brachial plexus injuries are quite common and are thought to be one of the most common types of birth injuries. While common, they can be debilitating. Brachial plexus injuries occur when there is damage to the brachial plexus nerves. Brachial plexus injuries are often caused by inappropriate use of extraction tools, excessive force or inappropriate manipulation of the baby during the delivery, or if the baby is dropped on their head, neck or shoulders. This type of injury can result in significant impairment in a baby’s arm and hand functioning. Some babies will recover with physical therapy, while others may require surgery. Sometimes, a baby may never recover and will be face with permanent disability
- Broken bones or fractures – A collarbone fracture is a common example of a birth injury. While this will heal, the baby will experience pain and may require the use of a sling or other device to hold his/her arm in place for healing. Other bones may break during delivery, but this is very uncommon and should be further investigated if this occurs
- Facial Paralysis – Facial nerve injury during the birth can result in facial paralysis. This type of injury is often caused by inappropriate use of extraction tools (i.e. forceps). Facial paralysis may be permanent or temporary, and can affect a child’s ability to move their face as well as their eyelid
- Kernicterus – This devastating birth injury does not occur during labor and delivery, but occurs shortly after birth. Jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes, skin and tissues) is quite common after birth, but with treatment (if necessary), it’s easily treatable. When a physician fails to diagnose and properly manage jaundice after birth, it can result in Kernicterus, a severe birth injury caused by excessive bilirubin buildup from untreated jaundice. Babies with kernicterus suffer significant, irreversible brain damage. Kernicterus should never occur and is generally always due to medical malpractice
Medical Malpractice Causes of Birth Injuries
While as stated above not all birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice, there are many instances in which these injuries could have been avoided with proper care and adherence to protocols. While there are many causes of birth injuries (both avoidable and unavoidable), common causes of birth injuries include the following:
- Failing to schedule a c-section when a vaginal birth is not indicated due to risks of the baby or mother
- Failing to intervene with an emergency c-section when there is maternal stress, fetal stress, or other complications
- Failing to monitor contractions properly, leading to missing concerning signs such as severe variability and decelerations
- Failing to diagnose and treat serious complications such as preeclampsia, eclampsia and placenta previa
- Improper use of labor inducing drugs, leading to serious complications such as tachysystole
- Failing to identify that the baby is experiencing respiratory distress at birth, leading to brain damage from hypoxia
- Delaying a c-section too long when there are complications or other signs of distress, leading to birth injuries
- Choosing a vaginal birth for a mother with known umbilical cord prolapse or rupture, causing severe harm
- Inappropriate use of extraction tools such as forceps or vacuum extractor, leading to injury
Did Your Loved One Suffer One of the Common Birth Injuries in Oregon? Call Our Law Firm for 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.