Childbirth is a time of enormous physical stress for both mothers and their babies. Despite careful planning, a lot can go wrong. Unfortunately, birth injuries are all too common and can have serious, lasting consequences. Parents-to-be should familiarize themselves with common birth injuries and what legal measures are available in cases of medical error.
Common Serious Birth Injuries
Some of the most common types of birth injuries are the most serious. They include:
- Forceps marks, left either by a forceps or a vacuum extractor, may indicate a depressed skull fracture needing surgical correction;
- Cephalohematoma, i.e., bleeding between a bone and its fibrous covering, may appear on the baby's head. Though it usually disappears in two to nine months, the breaking down of red blood cells can cause the baby to become jaundiced;
- Brachial palsy injuries can happen when the baby's shoulders are squeezed in the birth canal, damaging nerves controlling the arms and hands. Permanent damage may occur in severe cases, unless remedied by surgery or physical therapy;
- Facial paralysis, stemming from damaged facial nerves, is brought on by a misuse of forceps. Here, too, serious cases may require surgery;
- Brain injuries such as cerebral palsy can result from oxygen deprivation, either from blood loss or from a twisting or compression of the umbilical cord during delivery. This may lead to cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, or mental impairment.
A Negligent Physician May Be Liable
Mothers-to-be expect doctors and other medical professionals to anticipate problems and act accordingly. Unfortunately, physicians, anesthesiologists and nurses sometimes fail to exercise due care when treating their patients and, as a result, birth injuries occur. In most cases of medical malpractice involving childbirth, a doctor has failed to:
- Heed signs warning of possible birth complications
- Respond appropriately to bleeding
- Notice or remedy umbilical-cord entrapment
- Respond to fetal distress, such as an unusual heartbeat
- Order a cesarean section when medically necessary
- Use a forceps or a vacuum extractor correctly
- Administer a labor-inducing drug appropriately
If your child has suffered an injury during childbirth due to the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional, contact a knowledgeable birth injury lawyer to discuss your options. An attorney experienced in handling birth injury claims can assess your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. The law places strict time deadlines for when claims can be brought against a negligent wrongdoer, no matter how valid those claims may be.