September 16, 2014

Understanding the Issues - Horner's Syndrome Among Newborns

by Levin & Perconti

During labor and delivery, families rely on physicians to act with great judgment and caution. They are responsible for the wellness of brand new lives and any mistake can make the difference between life and death. When poor decisions are made, mothers and babies can face a variety of medical injuries. Horner's Syndrome is a condition in newborns where the cluster of nerves running from the brain to the face and eye are interrupted, causing facial injury. Also called oculosympathetic palsy, the syndrome affects about one in every 6,200 babies, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Signs and Symptoms

Horner's Syndrome is characterized by a number of signs and symptoms:

Generally, the condition only affects one side of the face.
The upper eyelid droops down over the eye.
Disproportionate pupil sizes result from a constricted pupil within the affected eye.
The affected eye may constantly appear bloodshot.
The affected eye may look as though it is sunken in its cavity.
The baby may appear to have different color eyes due to a lightening of the iris in the affected eye.
There is an absence of any perspiration on the affected side of the face.

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September 7, 2014

New Study May Reduce Brain Damage in Premature Babies

by Levin & Perconti

Premature births occur when babies are born prior to 37 weeks of gestation. The condition occurs for a number of different reasons, including mistakes or negligence by medical professionals. Mothers of premature babies deal with significant anxieties and fears. Along with the natural worries of any new mother, they are also faced with the possibility that their babies may not survive. This is because preemies are at an extreme risk due to the numerous complications that accompany premature births. Immature lungs are one of the most dangerous issues, often leading to traumatic brain injuries. According to a recent report by Fox News, researchers are working on a hormone to protect the brains of premature babies.

The American Pregnancy Association explains that the lungs of a fetus generally mature around the 36th week of gestation. When it is necessary to deliver a baby prior to this time, the physician may make the decision to inject the fetus with steroids that make the lungs develop at a faster rate. Conditions related to immature lungs include:

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August 28, 2014

A Hidden Problem - America's Maternal Death Rate

by Levin & Perconti

It is undeniable that the United States is a world leader, but there is one area where standing out is not something to brag about. According to a report in Medical Express, America is one of only eight countries where the rate of maternal deaths is on the increase. While the United States averaged 12 deaths out of 10,000 live births between 1988 and 1992, that ratio reportedly increased to 28 deaths per 10,000 live births between the years of 2008 and 2012. The United States was the 29th safest country for giving birth in 2005. According to reports, it has now descended to the 60th safest country. This research suggests that the maternal death rate in America is moving in the wrong direction.

The article gives a number of reasons for the country's high rate of maternal deaths:

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August 20, 2014

Dangerous Medical Equipment - Litigating a Surgical Mesh Injury

by Levin & Perconti

Surgical mesh is a medical device that is used to treat a number of health complications in female patients. The material is inserted into the pelvis for the purpose of strengthening its walls. This prevents the bladder and reproductive organs from slipping down into the vaginal area. Though this material is commonly used, it's come under extensive scrutiny. According to a report by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the surgical mesh has been a safety concern for more than three years. Thousands of women report painful side effects and complications with the device, resulting in numerous lawsuits.

Adverse Reactions to Surgical Mesh

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August 15, 2014

Medical Malpractice in Illinois - Wrong-Site Medical Errors Lead to Liability

by Levin & Perconti

According to a report by Medscape, wrong site surgery errors occur approximately 40 times every week. This number is alarming and demonstrates the level of risk that patients endure when undergoing a surgical procedure. The reasons for the high percentage of mistakes are numerous and problems persist even as prevention efforts are made.

Wrong-site errors manifest in a number of different ways. Doctors may operate on the wrong side of the body. For example, a physician may replace a left hip, though the right hip was scheduled for surgery. Errors can also occur on the correct side of the body, but in an incorrect location. The surgeon may operate on the wrong toe of the correct foot or an incorrect muscle. Lastly, the National Institute of Health (NIH) advises that the incorrect procedure may occur. The physician may mistakenly perform a muscle resection, rather than a recession.

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August 7, 2014

Stay Mindful - The Prevalence of Depression During Pregnancy

by Levin & Perconti

While much attention is given to the dangers of postpartum depression, far less is known about the risk of depression during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), this is a common problem that reportedly affects one tenth of all pregnant women. Left untreated, depression can negatively affect the health of the unborn child.

Experts at Kaiser Permanente recently conducted a study about depression in nearly 800 pregnant women. They reportedly found that more than 40% of the women exemplified depression symptoms. Of that number, half of the symptoms were severe. After tracking the women through labor and delivery, they found that the depressed mothers were twice as likely to deliver before the 37th week of gestation.

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August 1, 2014

The Effects of Untreated STDs on Labor and Delivery

by Levin & Perconti

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are always serious conditions, but they require particular attention when infecting a pregnant mother. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), these conditions can negatively affect the mother, as well as the infant. Injuries can range from minor infections to death. Prenatal doctors are obligated to test and treat their patients for STDs. The recommended frequency of this testing varies, depending on the specific disease and the patient's risk factors.


Syphilis is a serious condition that can pass on to the infant during pregnancy. Its effects on the developing baby can be life threatening, according to the CDC. The disease is reportedly linked to stillbirths and premature births. In babies who survive the birth, complications can include problems with the eyes, brain and heart. Organs and bones are also negatively impacted. All first prenatal visits should include syphilis screenings. For high risk patients, testing should occur in the third trimester as well.

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July 23, 2014

Birth Injuries - Common Labor and Delivery Complications

by Levin & Perconti

Some delivery complications have been around as long as childbirth itself and there are various methods of treatment and management for each of them. It is vitally important for the physician and hospital staff to handle the labor and delivery adequately. Failure to do so can result in serious injury or death to the mother, as well as the newborn.

Premature Delivery

The average time of pregnancy is 40 weeks. During this time, the fetus is forming and developing the necessary components to survive outside of the womb. According to the website,, preterm labor occurs when contractions start prior to the 37th week of pregnancy. If the delivery is allowed to continue, the baby will be born prematurely. This can lead to a variety of complications, including immature lung development and digestive issues. Premature delivery can also result in the death of the infant.

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July 18, 2014

Common Birthing Injury - The Epidural Alternative

by Levin & Perconti

The intense pain of childbirth is handled in a variety of ways. From the holistic approach of deep breathing and meditation to the medical administering of an epidural, the American health system uses a number of different methods to help women through the challenge of labor and delivery. However, one widely used alternative in European countries is gaining ground in the United States. Nitrous oxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is commonly found in your local dentist office. According to a report in The Atlantic, domestic hospitals are increasingly considering its use for women.

Laughing gas, as it is often called, allows women in labor to experience a feeling of calm and relaxation. The substance is currently used in Finland and Canada, as well as Australia and the United Kingdom. As stated in the article, it has been in use for generations within these countries. However, as of 2011, only one percent of American hospitals were reportedly using it. According to the article's authors, its usage never “caught on in the U.S.” But that seems to be changing as the number of hospitals using the gas continues to grow. The report states that 19 hospitals and 14 birthing centers are currently preparing to offer laughing gas to their birthing mothers.

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July 10, 2014

Back to the Basics - The Dangers of Shoulder Dystocia

by Levin & Perconti

Shoulder dystocia is a rare, but potentially serious condition that occurs when a baby gets stuck during delivery. According to the health website, shoulderdystociainfo, the condition starts as a normal delivery. Once the head is delivered, the process stops because the baby's anterior shoulder gets caught on the mother's pubic bone. If the shoulder is not freed quickly, the result can be brain damage or even death. Of the approximately 4 million births in the United States, about 20,000 of these women experience shoulder dystocia.

The size of a baby's head, shoulder and chest is key to the ease or difficulty of the delivery. Generally, the fetal head is the largest of these body parts. Therefore, once it moves through the birth canal, the shoulders and chest easily follow. However, when the shoulders or chest are similar in size to the head, an increased risk of dystocia occurs. When this does occur, it is usually in larger babies or mothers with a diagnosis of diabetes. For larger babies, the access growth is often seen in the shoulders and chest.

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July 3, 2014

Are Birth Injury Numbers Higher at Military Hospitals?

by Levin & Perconti

A major perk of military service is access to military hospitals and physicians by the service member, as well as members of the immediate family. However, according to a recent report by CBS News, births occurring in military hospitals are twice as likely to involve some type of injury. The article reports that more than 50,000 babies are born in military hospitals each year. The New York Times conducted an investigation, which resulted in findings that the likelihood of injury for these infants is twice as high as those born in civilian hospitals. These numbers include pregnancy and delivery complications. The report also includes Pentagon findings that birthing mothers were more likely to hemorrhage post-delivery while in military hospitals.

According to the article, there are numerous pending medical malpractice cases, related to birthing injuries. One stems from allegations about the death of a fetus after physicians wrongly performed surgery on the mother. Between 2006 and 2010, government payments for malpractice claims reportedly exceeded $100 million. Though this number is disturbingly high, it is not a reflection of the total malpractice allegations. Active duty service members are prohibited from suing for malpractice, keeping the level of payouts relatively low. The Congressional budget office reportedly stated that, were these active duty members allowed to sue, the total government payouts would equal $300 million each year.

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June 27, 2014

Jury Awards $14.5 Million for Birth Injury

by Levin & Perconti

An Ohio jury recently awarded $14.5 million dollars to an 11-year-old boy for injuries he suffered at birth. According to the website,, the jury returned a verdict against a physician and health center, finding them both liable for medical malpractice. The young boy reportedly has cerebral palsy, along with visual impairments and severe cognitive disabilities. His lawsuit made the claim that he will require medical assistance for the remainder of his life.

According to the article, the mother was 36-years-old at the time of her son's birth. She had a history of difficult pregnancy and her first baby was delivered by emergency cesarean section at 32 weeks. While pregnant with her 11-year-old, the woman reportedly went into labor three times, with each incident resulting in a hospital stay to stop labor with medication. Her last stay ended on April 4, 2003. On April 10, 2003, she was reportedly readmitted at 12:30 pm, when her water broke. According to the report, the mother asked for an immediate delivery, but was denied. She reportedly asked again for a delivery around 5:30 pm when the attending obstetrician arrived, but her request was again denied. Her son was reportedly delivered around 9:00 pm after exhibiting signs of distress. Examination showed that the baby suffered a massive brain hemorrhage, which reportedly occurred around 5:30 pm, while the mother was waiting for delivery.

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