January 14, 2012

Medical Malpractice & Birth Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

News 4 Jax published a story this week reminding its readers about how medical malpractice can lead to birth injuries. As our Chicago birth injury attorneys consistently explain on this blog, preventable birth injuries are in many ways simply a subset of medical malpractice. When medical caregivers do not provide an adequate level of care to expectant mothers during pregnancy and labor, then the families are entitled to recover for their losses following the mistreatment.

Some community members are not aware that many of the injuries that affect children from birth are not actually caused by developmental problems that arise early in a pregnancy. There is sometimes a mistaken assumption that birth injuries always include those things which are terribly sad but ultimately beyond our current medical knowledge to prevent. While some defects and injuries do indeed arise in natural ways, it is certainly not true that all such injuries arise in this way. For many families, their lives are turned upside down by a lifelong injury to their new child that occurs at the moment of delivery. This realization is always troubling, because it means that a child had developed normally for nine months only to have a problem arise at the very moment that they were set to enter the world.

As the news story begins, “when something goes wrong during delivery, it can become the beginning of a nightmare that no parent or child should have to experience.” According to the report six out of every thousands births in this country result in some form of birth injury. The definition of “injury” in this case is a wide one, encompassing anything from scratches and bruises to severe harm like nerve destruction and permanent brain damage. A quick list of some other common birth injuries include:

Fractured bones
The most common broken bone in an infant is the collar bone. Fortunately, the damage often heals once the baby is immobilized. It can arise when excess force is applied during a delivery

Erb’s palsy
This is a form of nerve damage in a newborn. Specifically, erbs palsy develops when the nerves that control a child’s hands and arm movements are damaged in delivery. The most common cause is when a new child’s shoulder is caught on some something while traveling through the birth canal. This hinders delivery and may have severe consequences throughout the child’s life.

Cerebral palsy
Cerebral palsy is actually a catch-all term that include all sorts of brain damage that can affect a newborn as a result of a lack of oxygen during their birth. When fetal distress occurs and caregivers fail to take timely action to relieve the distress (such as by performing of a C-section birth), then the child may be deprived oxygen and develop these problems.

Facial paralysis
Excess pressure on the child’s face during the delivery, often via the use of forceps, can lead to facial paralysis. This is usually caused by damaged nerves and often requires surgery to repair.

Our Chicago birth injury lawyers remind all local families that they have legal rights if they suspect their child developed a birth injury as a result of preventable malpractice. Visiting with a professional in this area is an important step in learning what exactly those rights are and what rules apply in your case.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

The Connection Between Birth Defects and Antidepressants

Paxil Related Birth Injury Claims May Still Be Filed