Causes of Birth Injuries
It requires a great deal of knowledge and care to ensure a woman has a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. While the vast majority of healthcare professionals provide services at acceptable and safe levels, a substandard provider can commit some of the following errors during labor and delivery:
- Failure to recognize or respond to fetal distress
- Not properly handling umbilical cord entanglement
- Improper use of equipment, such as forceps or a vacuum
- Oxygen deprivation
- Poor infant care immediately following childbirth
- Failure to manage an infection
If you suspect one of these common causes or another similar circumstance led to your child’s birth injury, our expert medical malpractice lawyers can review your case and help you determine your next legal steps.
Birth injury can result in a number of developmental disorders and health problems. Two of the most common conditions resulting from birth injuries are cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy.
An estimated 10,000 babies born in the U.S. will develop cerebral palsy each year. This condition can be caused by low levels of oxygen reaching the infant's brain before or during birth, and can be the result of negligence on the part of the doctor, hospital, or medical staff. If you believe your family has been affected by this type of medical malpractice, you can obtain compensation with the help of an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer.
Causes of the Condition
Cerebral palsy is the term used for a group of neurological disorders that affect body movement, posture, and muscle coordination. Some children with the disorder also have sensory, communicative, and developmental impairments that may limit their ability to perform normal self-care tasks. The condition is often attributed to damage in areas of the brain that control the nerves that regulate muscle function.
There are a number of potential causes for this brain damage, including gene mutations affecting fetal brain development, maternal infections, perinatal arterial stroke, infant infections, traumatic head injury, or a lack of oxygen to the brain. Oxygen deprivation is often related to a difficult labor or delivery, and may involve negligence. Medical malpractice may be implicated if a doctor or other practitioner caused or contributed to a problem that occurred during the gestation or birth.
Examples of these mistakes can include:
- Failure to detect or treat a dangerous health condition or infection occurring during gestation, such as meningitis
- Failure to order diagnostic tests or a misreading of test results
- Improper use of the drug Pitocin® to stimulate labor
- Failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord
- Failure to monitor fetal heartbeat and other vital signs during delivery
- Failure to detect and respond to mother’s blood pressure changes during gestation or delivery
- Failure to plan and schedule a cesarean section required by the baby’s size or position
- Delay or failure to perform an emergency cesarean section based on medical necessity
- Negligent use of a vacuum, forceps, or other instrument causing head trauma in the infant
In some cases, brain damage occurs after birth, in the neonatal unit. Negligent care or monitoring of premature newborns has been linked to brain damage caused by accidents, untreated jaundice, and equipment failures.
Although most effected babies are born with cerebral palsy, a child’s diagnosis may be delayed for many years. In some cases, the child is a toddler or preschooler before the condition is formally diagnosed. Oklahoma’s statute of limitations laws take this time delay into account for birth injury cases. A cerebral palsy lawsuit can be filed in Oklahoma up to seven years after the time the injury occurred.
Effects on Quality of Life
It is devastating for any parent to learn a child has been catastrophically injured by a preventable accident. Most children with cerebral palsy can live long, productive lives, but ongoing medical care will almost certainly be involved.
Depending upon the degree of brain damage, symptoms of cerebral palsy will range from very mild to quite severe. In addition to abnormal muscle tone and movement, symptoms and disabilities may include:
- Skeletal deformities, including shortened limbs
- Intellectual disability
- Seizures, affecting about one third of cerebral palsy cases
- Speech problems
- Swallowing problems, making eating and drinking difficult
- Hearing loss
- Vision problems, such as an eye turn (strabismus), seen in three-quarters of cerebral palsy patients
- Lack of bowel or bladder control
- Dental and oral health issues
Coping with cerebral palsy can be extremely difficult for many families. The difficulties associated with special needs children can produce an extraordinary amount of stress, which is exacerbated by the ongoing costs of supportive care. In severe cases, the child will require significant assistance to perform everyday functions such as eating and walking. Comprehensive expenses for medical care, special education services, and developmental assistance can add up quickly. Parents must also consider the future needs of their adult child. There may be assisted living requirements and a need for care long after the parents are gone.
It takes a seasoned medical malpractice firm to protect your best interests and help you collect full and just compensation. Our reputation is backed by a strong record of results, including a number of multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements for medical malpractice cases.
Erb’s palsy is a partial or total paralysis of the arm resulting from injury to a nerve branch called the brachial plexus. These nerves branch out from the spine into the shoulder, and down the arm into the wrist. Most commonly, Erb’s palsy is caused during childbirth. It generally results from the baby’s shoulder being impinged behind the mother’s pelvic bone. In these cases, the tissues and nerves in the child’s shoulder are stretched or torn, resulting in injury and paralysis to the area. Fortunately, the effects of Erb’s palsy can be diminished through therapy designed to improve physical function.