Birth is a physically traumatic experience for both the mother and baby. A particularly difficult delivery may result in birth injuries, many of which are caused by the natural process of labor and delivery. However, some birth injuries can be caused by doctors acting negligently. Misusing tools used to assist in birth or failing to perform an emergency c-section when necessary may result in injuries to the mother and child. Anyone who is a victim of a birth injury caused by doctor negligence may be eligible for financial compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common birth injuries. Cerebral palsy is the result of damage caused to the child’s brain during the birthing process. This can be caused by a doctor’s negligence if they did not monitor the mother and baby properly to catch signs of fetal distress during labor. Cerebral palsy can leave children with permanent mobility issues that require them to use medical devices for life. It can also lead to hearing and vision issues and learning disabilities, which are permanent.
Oxygen deprivation can occur during birth for a number of different reasons. One of the most common reasons a baby may be deprived of oxygen during birth is because their umbilical cord is wrapped around their neck. In most situations, a reasonable doctor can catch this before it causes damage. A negligent doctor may not catch it in time. Oxygen deprivation can also occur when the baby has been left in the birth canal for too long, an issue that is often solved with an emergency c-section. If a doctor fails to order an emergency c-section when another reasonable doctor would have, they may be liable for any resulting injuries.
Facial paralysis is a birth injury that often happens when a doctor misuses a tool while trying to guide a baby through the birth canal. Tools such as forceps or vacuums can cause damage to the nerves in a child’s face, resulting in permanent facial paralysis or disfigurement. A baby may lose the ability to move the impacted part of their face permanently.
Brachial Plexus Palsy
Brachial plexus palsy is an injury that can occur when a baby’s shoulders get stuck in the mother’s birth canal. A doctor may use force to try removing the baby, pulling the baby’s neck too far and damaging the nerves there. These nerves affect the neck, arm, shoulder, and hand. This injury can cause permanent damage, such as pain and a lack of mobility in the child’s affected arm. Some cases are severe enough to sever the nerves from the spine.
Broken bones can occur during childbirth naturally, but often occur as a result of misused tools and excessive force by a doctor. Collarbones are often broken by doctors trying to pull a lodged baby from the birth canal. While most of these injuries are minor, they can be serious and require a baby to be immobilized for healing purposes.
When a baby has bleeding under their cranial bone after being born, they have what is known as cephalohematoma. This injury is characterized by a bump on the back of the child’s head and is often caused by improper forceps use. This injury is serious because it can cause other issues, such as jaundice, anemia, and hypotension. A similar birth injury is Caput Succedaneum, which is characterized by swelling and bruising of the scalp. Excessive force on the scalp during birth is the cause, and forceps are usually to blame.
A hemorrhage can occur when a baby has bleeding within their skull. This is caused by excessive pressure on the baby’s head during the birthing process. Vacuum extractors can cause this issue if they are used improperly or used for too long of a duration.
Injuries to the Mother
While birth injuries that babies endure are extremely serious, the mothers giving birth can also endure injury at the hands of neglectful doctors. Many of these injuries can be prevented by attentive medical care. Some examples include:
- Serious tears: During a difficult birth, a doctor may have to make an incision on the mother to help the baby come out of the birth canal more easily. These incisions are serious and need medical care once the baby is born. If a doctor fails to give a new mother medical care for her incision after birth, she may experience incontinence, severe scarring, painful intercourse, and fistulas.
- Ruptured uterus: The wall of a woman’s uterus can tear during pregnancy and worsen as the baby gets bigger inside of her. It is crucial for doctors to diagnose a ruptured uterus as soon as possible, because it can be life-threatening to the mother and her child. Women often need antibiotics to prevent infections and blood transfusions due to the loss of blood.
Seeking Justice for Birth Injuries
A birth injury can result in a lot of pain and significant worry. When they occur due to a doctor’s negligent behavior, the affected party can initiate a medical malpractice claim to seek justice. There are 4 specific elements that need to be proven in such a lawsuit:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship: The doctor-patient relationship occurs when a doctor is hired to perform medical care on a person and agrees to do so. This is easily proven by records of appointments.
- The doctor acted negligently: The plaintiff must prove that the defendant, the doctor, was negligent while treating them. They must show that the doctor did not treat them how a reasonably competent doctor under similar circumstances would.
- The negligence caused the injury: The plaintiff has to show the court that their injury was sustained due to the doctor’s negligence, and that they would not have endured the injury had the doctor acted competently.
- The injury caused damages: The patient has to prove that the injury resulted in damages. Damages include medical bills, lost work, etc.
If someone makes a successful personal injury claim, they will receive compensation for their losses. Some examples of what they can be compensated for include:
- Medical bills, ambulance bills, rehabilitation costs
- Mental anguish endured due to the injury
- Lost wages because they could not work while recovering
- Lost earning capacity if the injury prevents them from working to their prior potential
Fighting On Your Behalf
Rash Mueller is proud to provide high-quality legal counsel to people seeking medical malpractice claims. If you or your child were injured during birth and believe it happened due to a doctor’s negligent actions, contact us today. With over 30 years of experience representing clients, our team will fight on your behalf to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve. Birth injuries are serious, which is why we will look over every aspect of your case and provide you with empathetic assistance. Contact us today at (954) 914-7116 or online for a consultation.