July 19, 2016

Mother of Infant Who Died During Childbirth Files Lawsuit

The birth of your child should be one of the best days of your life. However, what was supposed to be a joyful day turned tragic for one mother after her daughter died during childbirth. The mother has filed a lawsuit against the hospital and doctor stating that they were negligent and failed to provide proper care in order to prevent injuries. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County and is requesting a jury trial and a judgment of more than $50,000.

Mistakes during Delivery

For most women, the labor and delivery process progresses without any serious problems. Unfortunately, sometimes there are complications which can cause severe injuries or, in rare circumstances, death. When complications present themselves, the doctors and other members of the medical team need to make decisions and take quick action. If medical assistance is not immediately rendered, complications can take a serious and deadly turn for the worse.

Monitoring Is Important

During labor and delivery both the fetus and the mother are monitored. It is very important to ensure that the baby is never in distress. If any distress is noticed both baby and mother must be immediately assessed. If the baby is experiencing deprivation of oxygen it is considered a medical emergency. The baby needs to be delivered immediately, possibly by c-section. The point of using a monitoring device is to be able to quickly be made aware of a problem. In this case, it seems that there was either no monitoring or there was no medical personnel paying attention to it.

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August 3, 2015

Hospital Laborists: A New Trend in Labor and Delivery

A new trend within the OBGYN community is catching on and quickly growing in popularity nationwide. An article in USA Today discusses how an increasing number of hospitals are hiring OB hospitalists, also commonly referred to as laborists, to ensure that they are always ready when obstetric or gynecological emergencies occur.

The Society of OBGYN Hospitalists (SOGH) defines a laborist as “an experienced OBGYN physician with a practice focused on managing the OBGYN care of the hospitalized patient.” These doctors are paid by the hospital to be readily available inside of the facility for a specified shift.

According to reports, there are several causes for this rising trend:

*Hospitals are looking for ways to decrease their risk of malpractice lawsuits

*Low patient satisfaction rates

*Doctors not wanting to remain on call for long periods of time

*OBGYNS who prefer to work for a steady salary, instead of managing an independent medical practice

*Increased reliance on nurses who must often perform deliveries when the on-call physician does not arrive in time

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May 18, 2015

Inducement May Prove Healthier for Large Babies

There is arguably no more natural process than pregnancy and delivery of a baby. The female body is wired for this process and most experts agree that the healthiest option for all concerned is to let nature take its course. But a growing trend is taking the delivery date out of Mother Nature’s hands and putting it into the hands of the expectant mother and her physician. Women are choosing to schedule their deliveries prior to their actual due dates. Termed elective induction, many health care professionals advise against this decision, citing increased risk of injury to the mother and the baby. But a recent study suggests that an elective induction may prove the best choice when an infant is considerably larger than average.

There are a variety of reasons why women choose elective inductions:

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January 15, 2015

Malpractice Lawsuit Requirements in the State of Illinois

Birthing injuries are extremely challenging for families. They are particularly difficult when caused by a physician or member of the treating hospital staff. Under these circumstances, a court of law may order the payment of damages as compensation for the injury. But a malpractice claim requires more than the simple filing of a document. When instituting a malpractice lawsuit, its important to abide by the relevant laws within Illinois.

Statute of Limitations

The state places limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in Illinois courts. Under Illinois law, an injured party has two years to file a lawsuit, but there are variations on when the time begins to run. Though it typically starts on the date that the injury occurred, this isn't always practical because the victim may not be aware that the injury occurred. In this situation, the discovery rule may apply, where the statute of limitations does not start until the date that the injury is discovered. In some situations, the statute of limitations time may be interrupted, like in cases where the victim is a minor or temporarily disabled. The statute of limitations will begin running again when the child becomes an adult or the disability is cured.

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November 12, 2014

Jury Awards $8.4 Million in Breathing Tub Injury

The actions of a hospital staff during the labor and delivery of a baby can result in lasting medical consequences for the child, as well as the mother and family. A moment of hesitation or inaction may lead to serious injuries that will forever effect the newborn's quality of life. When these incidents occur, physicians and the medical center should take responsibility for their role in the injury. However, if they don't, an experienced attorney can assist victims in securing the financial compensation to which they are entitled.

Northwest Georgia News is reporting about a five-year-old boy who was recently awarded an $8.4 million settlement from a Georgia jury. He lives with cerebral palsy and, according to the court documents, the medical staff that handled his birth is responsible for his condition. As stated in reports, the young boy's mother trusted the medical staff of a Georgia medical center with the delivery of her child. The fetal monitor reportedly showed that the baby was in distress from a lack of oxygen. This information should have prompted a cesarean section, according to court documents, but medical staff never notified a physician about the risky situation.

Continue reading "Jury Awards $8.4 Million in Breathing Tub Injury" »

May 14, 2014

Why are Kansas Doctors Advocating for Higher Award Caps?

The state of Kansas may soon see medical malpractice award caps increased from $250,000 to $350,000, according to an article by Medscape Business of Medicine. In April, the Kansas legislature voted in favor of a bill to raise the 25-year-old limits on pain and suffering malpractice awards. This move reportedly came as a surprise to many interested parties and legislative observers.

Moves by the legislature to increase award caps are commonly done in response to court determinations that the caps are unconstitutional, but Kansas lawmakers are not facing this problem. In Kansas, the court ruled in the exact opposite direction. The State Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the current $250,000 limits are constitutional, giving legislatures a strong footing to maintain the caps. In the neighboring state of Missouri, the court overturned medical malpractice caps all together, ruling they were unconstitutional.

The other strange twist to this proposed legislation is the overwhelming support it reportedly received from medical doctors. According to Medscape, the Medical Society of Sedgwick County “identified passing legislation to increase the cap as one of its four most pressing issues of 2014.” Doctors from Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, are included in that organization.

Observers and interested parties are asking why these doctors, along with politicians, are so eager to raise medical malpractice caps. As reported by Medscape, experts assert that is a tactical measure of giving a little leeway in order to avoid losing the whole fight. At one end of the spectrum are anti-cap supporters, who argue against any medical malpractice award limits. At the other end of the spectrum are pro-cap supports, who feel that malpractice award limits are essential to adequate health care. These Kansas doctors are reportedly taking the middle ground between the two stances in hopes of preventing a complete ban on all malpractice caps, which is what occurred in the state of Missouri. According to reports, the Kansas legislation is currently awaiting a decision from the governor.

Medical Malpractice Caps in Illinois

In the state of Illinois, there are no medical malpractice caps on compensatory damages, which are awards to cover substantiated economic losses. Punitive awards, which are meant to punish the offending party, are not allowed in Illinois medical malpractice cases. However, non-economic damages, which include those for pain and suffering, are allowed in Illinois malpractice cases.

In 2005, the state implemented non-economic damage limits of $500,000 for doctors and $1 million for hospitals. The Illinois Court struck down this legislative attempt at creating caps in 2010, finding that the limits were unconstitutional. However, this judicial determination has not quashed the heated debate that continues to rage in Illinois over the controversial issue. While physicians continue to advocate for caps, trial attorneys continue to fight on behalf of plaintiffs, against award limits that adequately compensate parties injured from medical malpractice.

See Related Posts:

Chicago injury attorneys obtain $6.5 million birth injury settlement

Levin & Perconti tops the list of 2008 Super Injury Lawyers

April 3, 2014

Neural Tube Defects in Newborns

Birth defects of the brain or spine are called neural tube defects. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), neural tube defects often occur as a result of insufficient folic acid intake by the mother. Folic acid is is a form of the Vitamin B and it is found in foods like spinach, broccoli and various types of beans. Women who do not eat these types of food are often deficient in Vitamin B, even before becoming pregnant. Neural tube defects develop within the first month of gestation. Women often don't know that they are pregnant yet, so they are not taking prenatal vitamins, which are good supplements for folic acid. To combat this potential problem, physicians sometimes prescribe prenatal vitamins to patients who are trying to become pregnant. According to the NIH, there is a higher risk of neural tube defects when:

--the mother is obese

--the mother has diabetes that are not adequately controlled

--the mother takes certain medications to prevent seizures

Types of Neural Tube Defects

Spina bifida is one type of neural tube defect. According to the NIH, it occurs when the spinal column of the fetus does not close completely. The most common of these defects, spina bifida occurs in approximately 1,750 U.S. births each year. There are four types of spina bifida:

--Occulta is the mildest form and rarely causes disability

--Closed neural tube defects have few or no symptoms, but can result in partial paralysis or bowel dysfunctions

--Meningocele occurs when spinal fluid protrudes through an opening in the vertebrae. It can lead to complete paralysis

--Myelomeningocele is the most severe form and often renders the affected child unable to walk

Anencephaly is another neural tube defect. According to the Center for Disease Control, babies with anencephaly are born with undeveloped parts of the brain and skull. This reportedly happens when the top of the neural tube does not completely close. Most babies born with anencephaly die very soon after birth. The CDC reports that the condition occurs once in about every 5,000 U.S. births.

The Role of the Doctor in a Neural Tube Defect Pregnancy

Neural tube defects can be detected early in the pregnancy with appropriate testing by the mother's obstetrician. According to the NIH, though there is no cure for spina bifida, a growing number of physicians are performing fetal surgeries, with the goal of closing the abnormal spinal cord opening. The procedure is done while the baby is still inside of the mother's abdomen and it involves substantial risk to the both the fetus and the mother. The fetus is in danger of premature delivery brought on by the surgery. For the mother, the procedure can cause infection and significant loss of blood.

According to reports, there is some evidence to suggest that certain prescription drugs may contribute to the development of neural tube defects, including spina bifida and the deadly anencephaly. It is a doctor's responsibility to keep abreast of the most current studies and research on various birth defects. If a mother is prescribed medications during pregnancy and the fetus develops a neural tube defect, the prescribing physician may be liable in regards to the birth defect, as well as any related difficulties.

If you or your baby has suffered due to a neural tube defect, call an experienced attorney for a free consultation.

January 24, 2014

Home Birth Drastically Increases Rate of Birth Injuries?

While the majority of incidents involving medical malpractice and birth injuries occur at hospitals during labor, a new alarming trend is the frequency of stillborns and birth injuries that occur during home births.

Home births are on the rise as mothers hope to return to the past and have a more relaxed and stress-free birth in their own home. There are many forms of home births, such as water births, but most forms include the use of a midwife. Many have doctors either present or on call. However, Dr. Lachlan de Crespigny and Professor Julian Savulescu warn mothers about home births in a research article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

In fact, “having a home birth may be like not putting your child’s car seat belt on,” the researchers caution in their article.

During a home birth, the midwife and doctor do not have the same resources available at a hospital. Any complications or issues that arise during or after childbirth at home cannot be as quickly detected and treated. In the instance of a birth injury during home birth, the child and mother must be transported to a hospital. Every second counts, and during this time, doctors won’t have access to the mother or child during a time of critical need.

Due to the lack of access to resources and hospital staff, the prevalence of stillborns in home births has skyrocketed. Home births have resulted in 10 times as many stillborns, when compared to hospital births. Home births have also resulted in 4 times as many instances of traumatic brain injuries at birth. However, experts estimate that this data is understated as it does not include infants who needed to be rushed to a hospital and were then successfully treated for a home birth complication.

Another lasting problem with home births is that the mothers are not adequately informed. Midwives and doctors often do not warn the mothers of the dangers of home births, and medical research on home births is scant.

Home births only account for approximately 1% of births in the U.S. However, the number of home births has tripled since 2004, especially among women who have given birth before and women older than 35.

While many home births go smoothly, the need for immediate medical or surgical attention during a complication negates any added benefits of a home birth. Many hospitals are now offering more comfortable and compassionate settings for women who might be considering a home birth.

In fact, more U.S. hospitals have begun offering water births and other alternative forms of childbirth. These hospitals, many of which are located in Illinois, permit mothers to actually lie down in birthing tubs and give birth while in the water. In order to minimize risk associated with alternative forms of birth, many hospitals recommend obstetrician approval and require that the mother be at low risk for complications.

If you or a loved one suffered a birth injury either prior to or after delivery during a home birth, please consider calling Levin & Perconti to discuss your options.

See Our Other Blog Posts:

Advocate Calls for Hospital Births – Raises Awareness of Childbirth Deaths

WSJ On Steep Rise in Maternal Birth Complications in the U.S.

January 3, 2014

From Natural to Life-Threatening: Postpartum Bleeding, Postpartum Hemorrhage, and Wrongful Death Cases

What is Postpartum Bleeding?

It is natural for a woman to experience bleeding during and after childbirth. Referred to as the postpartum period the process of discharging tissue, blood, and other matter is called lochia. Of course, heavy bleeding is normal and women find that they must wear thick pads for several days to avoid leakage. Usually, postpartum bleeding lasts from three to ten days, and is one of the most significant menstrual cycles a woman will ever experience if she has just had her first child. So, again, this process - lochia - is a natural process, whether or not a woman goes through natural childbirth or has a c-section, and occurs after childbirth and generally isn’t cause for concern. Furthermore, once the body has expunged blood, tissue, and mucus the dark red will gradually lighten and eventually disappears after six weeks. There is, however, something called excessive postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), and this is when a women is entering dangerous territory. She must be vigilant in watching for the symptoms of postpartum hemorrhage. Even more importantly, the doctors and nurses caring for her must ensure that she is not exhibiting any of these symptoms.

Excessive Postpartum Hemorrhage
What is excessive postpartum hemorrhage and how common is it? Excessive postpartum hemorrhage is a result of excessive bleeding (more than 500 cc after vaginal delivery or 1000 cc after a caesarean section), and most often occurs after a Caesarean procedure. Approximately four percent of women suffer from excessive postpartum hemorrhage.

There are two types of postpartum hemorrhage:

Primary postpartum hemorrhage: this form takes place within twenty-four hours after a woman gives birth.
Secondary (delayed) hemorrhage: this type occurs twenty-hours to six weeks after a woman gives birth.

There are numerous causes that can lead to excessive postpartum hemorrhage such as:

--Labor that has been prolonged or halted
--A history of postpartum hemorrhage
--The usage of forceps or forcing labor with other medical instruments
--First childbirth

Oftentimes excessive postpartum hemorrhage is ignored, misdiagnosed, or not treated by physicians or other medical professionals, and thus put the patient at extreme risk. It can even lead to death. Indeed, excessive postpartum hemorrhage is life-threatening. That is why the following symptoms should not be ignored.

So what are the symptoms? They are as follows:

--Excessive, heavy bleeding (the most obvious symptom)
--Rapid heart beat
--Inflammation, sensitivity, and pain in the vaginal area
--Significant decrease in blood pressure

When things go terribly wrong . . . Wrongful Death Due to Postpartum Hemorrhage
Tragically, and as already noted several times, women do in fact die as a result of postpartum hemorrhage, something that can be avoided if medical professionals take necessary precautions to watch for symptoms and then properly treat them. While it is true that not all postpartum hemorrhage is a result of medical malpractice or incompetence, doctors and other medical personnel must act quickly to help a patient suffering from the condition. If they fail to treat a patient who has the symptoms of postpartum hemorrhage, she is at risk of shock, brain damage, and death.

When it comes to medical malpractice cases, Levin & Perconti are known for settling a $7.62 million wrongful death case of a woman who complained about her postpartum bleeding. Her pleas for help were ignored and she perished. This was an example of gross medical negligence, as the woman reached out for help, explained her complications, and yet was ignored. Sadly, medical professionals do not always listen to their patients, and that means lives, such as this woman’s, are lost. That’s a heavy price to pay, especially for the families who are left behind to pick up the pieces.

Birth Injury Case Spurs Questions About Med Mal Jury Instructions

Unwanted Intrusion with Forceps Leads to Birth Injury Lawsuit

October 15, 2013

Zoloft Birth Defect Litigation Update

Zoloft, manufactured by Pfizer, Inc., is one of the most prescribed antidepressants and anxiety medications in the United States, with over 37 prescriptions in 2011 alone according to IMS Health. Concerns about the link between Zoloft and birth defects began in 2006, when the FDA issued a warning that mothers who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Zoloft after their 26th week of pregnancy were six times more likely to have persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) than infants born to mothers who did not take SSRIs during pregnancy. Since 2006, studies have linked SSRIs with to a variety of birth defects, including but not limited to abnormal skull development and brain hemorrhage.

Multi-District Litigation against Pfizer
Lawsuits against Pfizer for birth defects as a result of Zoloft are pending in a variety of jurisdictions.

Over 430 birth defect lawsuits against Pfizer have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The MDL started in April 2012 with only 92 cases and has since grown rapidly to 430 cases, including the addition of several cases from Illinois.

The Pennsylvania Record reports that a Zoloft birth defect case with plaintiffs from Cook County, Illinois, has been filed with the MDL in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs allege that their infant son was born with severe birth defects and subsequently died as a result of his mother taking Zoloft during pregnancy. The lawsuit includes a claim for punitive damages and alleges strict product liability, negligence, negligent design, constructive fraud, breach of express and implied warranties, gross negligence/malice, and fraud, misrepresentation and suppression.

The Zoloft Lawsuit Center reports that another Illinois couple has also joined with the MPL against Zoloft manufacturer Pfizer, claiming failure to warn, product design defect, negligence, constructive fraud, malice, pecuniary loss, and infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit alleges damages for medical costs related to the infant’s club feet, pain and suffering, and for the lost wages and earning power of the mother.

Parties to the MDL have agreed that the cases should be narrowed to a pool of 25 “bellwether cases.” These cases will go to trial first, and will likely set a precedent for the rest of the Zoloft birth defect cases. Trials for the bellwether cases are scheduled to begin on October 13, 2014.

Illinois State Court Litigation against Pfizer
Not all Zoloft birth defects suits have been filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as part of the MDL. Several will be heard by Illinois state courts instead. Two cases involving Zoloft birth defects, Wilson, et al. v. Pfizer and Saville, et al. v. Pfizer, are pending before St. Clair County Circuit Court. Another case involving 38 families, Reeves et al. v. Pfizer, has also been remanded to St. Clair County, pending appeal.

Although much of the birth defect litigation against Zoloft manufacturer Pfizer is currently pending, related lawsuits over birth defects caused by the antidepressant Paxil have helped to provide some relief for the families of child victims. According to Bloomberg, lawsuits against Paxil’s manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline Plc resulted in over $1 billion in compensation to help restore the families of children with birth defects.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Zoloft Remains on the Market Despite Known Dangers for Pregnant Women

Zoloft Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed After Infants Die

September 10, 2013

Protecting Victim's Rights - A Look at State Supreme Courts that have Struck Down Unconstitutional Caps on Damages

In previous blog posts, we have addressed the obvious dangers that medical malpractice caps on non-economic damages pose to victims and their families. Of course, the debate on tort reform has undoubtedly been controversial. In light of the political waves tort reform continues to cause across the country from California to New York, you may find it interesting, if not helpful, to take a brief look at the state supreme courts that have struck down medical malpractice caps on grounds that such caps violate the states' constitution.

Non-economic damages - compensation awarded to victims based on harm and loss that cannot be easily quantified in economic terms - have proven to be particularly important in cases involving birth injuries and wrongful deaths resulting from the negligence of medical professionals.

As terrible as a medical malpractice tragedy can be for a victim and their family, having such a misfortune take place in a state where (1) there is a constitutional prohibition on damages caps or (2) the state supreme court has ruled that non-economic damages caps are unconstitutional, can certainly put the affected family in a better position to cope with the terrible tragedy.

State Supreme Courts That Got it Right
Fortunately, in 2010, the Supreme Court of Illinois, our state, is included among the small group of state high-courts that have struck down non-economic damages caps on the grounds that such legislative measures violate the victim's constitutional rights. There are currently five other states comprising the, hopefully growing, group of state supreme courts that have made the decision to protect citizen's access to the courts and their right to be awarded compensation that is not limited to only quantifiable economic loss. Those five other states include Alabama, Georgia, New Hampshire, Oregon and Washington.

The American Association for Justice maintains a complete list of "States that Have Declared a Medical Malpractice Damage Cap Unconstitutional" on their website. In addition to state supreme court rulings, this list also includes states that prohibit non-economic damages caps under constitutional provisions - such states include, but are not limited to, Arizona, Kentucky and Wyoming.

Further, there are states like New York and New Jersey that do not have constitutional prohibitions or state supreme court rulings on this particular issue, but they do not have statutory caps on non-economic damages either.

Shannon's Hope
Last week, a Bloomberg article discussed the decreasingly pervasive misconception that justifiably large monetary verdicts in medical malpractice cases increase medical costs. Within the article, the author also highlighted the recent case of Reilly v. St. Charles Hospital. In this case, a jury found that the negligence of the St. Charles Hospital and the obstetric nurse on duty failed to properly monitor the mother and the fetus resulting in Shannon being diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy. After enduring an agonizing ten-year battle in the courts, a jury from one of the most conservative counties in the state eventually awarded Shannon $130 million in damages - the second-largest monetary award for damages resulting from medical malpractice negligence in state history.

See Related Blog Posts:
The Fight for Med Mal Fairness - Caps Do Not Improve Access to Medical Care

Does Taking Away Legal Rights of Birth Injury Victims Lower Medical Costs?

August 28, 2013

The Fight for Med Mal Fairness - Caps Do Not Improve Access to Medical Care

Recent studies have shown that medical malpractice caps on non-economic damages exacerbate inequality in the judicial system. Certain plaintiffs are more likely to have a large portion of their award tied to non-economic damages. In particular, those without large annual incomes or who have injuries that cannot be quantified in dollar terms easily. The elderly, stay-at-home parents, and children are particularly affected.

Children harmed by negligence at birth may also be disproportionately affected by these caps. Obviously, by their very name, economic damage must be tied to quantifiable losses, like lost wages. Children who develop cerebral palsy, erbs palsy, or other injuries as a result of negligence may have a hard time identifying many economic losses, beyond basic medical costs and some potential lost wages. However, they obviously have suffered an immense loss in other terms--as they must live a life plagued by various challenges. Juries have long sought to honor those non-economic losses with proper compensation to account for the pain, suffering, and effect on the individual’s life.

Damage caps, however, take that option away from juries. This is one of many reasons why attorneys who work on malpractice cases, including birth injury matters, rally against these destructive “tort reform” measures.

State Ballot Measure & De-Bunked Arguments
It is under that umbrella that the current political battle in California should be understood. Several decades ago California became one of the first states to place an arbitrary cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. The limit was set at $250,000. That total has not changed since--not even to account for inflation. That means that in today’s dollars, the cap is equivalent to $65,000

Now there is a fight by some advocates to fix the problem and increase the cap to a more reasonable $1 million. To do so, supporters are collecting signatures to put the decision up for a statewide vote.

Expectedly, the usual suspects have rallied in opposition. The same tired claims are being made about increased medical costs and driving doctors out of the state. It is important to stand up to these de-bunked arguments.

For example, just last week the Center for Justice & Democracy (CJ&D) released a new report that emphasizes the lack of any grounding for the argument that keeping damage caps in place increases access to patient care.

Summarizing the findings, the study’s lead author explains, ““The suggestion that doctors might leave California or abandon certain specialties if the state’s brutal $250,000 cap on compensation for injured patients were repealed, let alone simply increased for inflation, has absolutely no support in the academic literature, government studies, or the actual experiences of other states.”

The study also cites research which shows that injury to women is often compensated exclusively through non-economic damages. For example, negligence which causes injury to sexual or reproductive organs or that results in the loss of a pregnancy must be compensated solely via damages not tied directly to economic loss. With these caps in place, these injuries may go largely uncompensated.

See Other Blog Posts:

New Cerebral Palsy Research to Begin with NIH Grant

Links Between the Infant’s Heart and Brain

July 2, 2013

Birth Injuries, Tort Reform, & Corporate Hypocrisy

What do labeling standards for hazardous materials have to do with birth injury lawsuits?

Perhaps not much directly, but legal principles used in one case may eventually impact many seemingly unrelated areas. It all has to do with the many faces of tort reform. Some mistakenly believe “damage caps” and “tort reform” are synonymous. That is not the case. Instead, arbitrary caps on damages are just one of many ways that certain big corporate interests seek to tilt the playing field and make it harder for those hurt to recover for their losses.

Beyond damage caps, and perhaps even more invidiously, tort reform can also take the form of changes in the law which limit who can sue at all, on what grounds, and what legal standards are applied when judging liability. Using a variety of theories, many corporate front groups are advancing arguments in many different types of cases all with the same goal.

Preemption Arguments
For example, the President of the American Association for Justice recently wrote a letter explaining the group’s latest action to protect consumer rights against attacks from tort reform groups. She explains how a lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA). This is an entity charged with maintaining safe workplaces. OSHA recently made changes to preemption language in its “Hazard Communication Standard.” This “standard” sets forth rules regarding proper labeling and warning about hazardous materials.

One of the nation’s largest corporate front groups, the American Tort Reform Association, recently filed a petition challenging the preemption language change. The underlying claim was that the OSHA standards should “preempt” state tort laws and common laws on the same subject. In other words, they were trying to lower the safety standards so that those hurt by a failure to warn have less ability to recover for their losses in a court of law.

These principles of preemption are clearly harmful to consumers, lowering safety standards and minimizing the incentives for those in a position to keep workers safe from doing all that they can. In addition, as always with legal claims and legislation pushed as part of a “tort reform” agenda, the underlying principles, if accepted, may have far reaching consequences. Any time a court, agency, or legislative body caves to lower standards to please tort reformers, the door is opened for similar arguments being used to take away rights in other legal settings.

Preserving the Right to Demand Accountability
As we have pointed out time and again, birth injury lawsuits specifically (and medical malpractice cases generally) are usually ground zero for tort reformers. That is because the financial consequences of preventable birth injuries caused by negligence are so high--easily reaching millions of dollars when a lifetime of extra care is needed.

Corporate interests have much to gain by seeking to limit an injured child and their family’s right to file a lawsuit and seek full recovery. That is why those of us who believe in fairness and equality under the law must be diligent in countering all misleading legal arguments and public claims which may be used to take away those critical rights.

See Related Blog Posts:

Medical Malpractice “Infographic” -- It Happens More Than You Think

Supreme Court Decides Pharmaceutical Case -- Bad for Consumers

April 24, 2013

Tubal Reversals, Ectopic Pregnancies, and Birth Injuries in Illinois

Tubal ligations, which have been linked to ectopic pregnancies, are among the preventative sterilization services which insurance companies are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act. Ectopic pregnancies occur when the embryo implants outside the womb, usually somewhere in the fallopian tube. If left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can lead to a life threatening emergency, such as the one experienced in tan Illinois case where a woman from Wheeling died after her fallopian tube ruptured subsequent to her doctor’s failure to notify her that the results of her ultrasound test indicated a strong possibility of an ectopic pregnancy.

Ectopic Pregnancies Are Often Misdiagnosed
Ectopic pregnancies sometimes require surgical intervention, but in other instances can be treated with methotrexate, a chemotherapy technique that removes the fetus from the fallopian tube in an attempt to avoid life-threatening complications to the ectopically pregnant woman. However, according to a recent article published by ABC News, roughly 40% of pregnancies diagnosed as ectopic are later revealed to be normal pregnancies. For example, according to the article, one woman who was administered methotrexate after being diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy gave birth to a daughter who had no rectum, vagina or uterus and also had a malformed spinal cord. Per the article, the mother has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and a jury trial is scheduled for early 2013.

Several Published Illinois Cases Contain Fact Patterns Involving Failed Tubal Ligations
In one of those cases an Illinois resident was informed that performance of a tubal ligation procedure would prevent further pregnancies by irreversibly obstructing her fallopian tubes. At trial, she testified that her doctor never advised her at any time that he had lacerated her fallopian tube during her tubal ligation surgery, a mistake which her doctor admitted could have caused the procedure to be ineffective. She subsequently experienced an unwanted pregnancy, and after that she experienced an ectopic pregnancy.

In another case parents brought a medical malpractice action alleging that failed tubal ligation resulted in the birth of a child with congenital hyperactivity disorder. The Supreme Court of Illinois did not allow the parents to recover their damages, because it determined that the birth defects were not a foreseeable consequence of a negligently performed sterilization procedure.

Reversal of Tubal Ligations Does Not Eliminate the Risk of Ectopic Pregnancies
Even if a tubal ligation is reversed, a costly procedure, coverage for which is not mandated by the Affordable Care Act, there is an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy following the tubal reversal surgery. Thus, the women who qualify for free tubal ligations under the Affordable Care Act should carefully consider the risks of their decisions prior to choosing tubal ligation as a sterilization option.

See Related Blog Posts:

Five Birth Injury Lawsuits Filed Against a Single Hospital

Mother files wrongful death lawsuit over preventable pregnancy complication

April 15, 2013

Federal Government Finds that Researchers Did Not Properly Inform Parents of Risks to their Premature Babies

Volunteers who participate in medical research and clinical trials are essential to developing the medical advances that help improve both the length and the quality of people’s lives. While many of these research subjects have the benefit of exposure to cutting-edge medicines and procedures, they are also subject to many of the risks that come with medical experimentation. In general, before a researcher can enroll a participant in a medical study, he or she must ensure that the subject provides informed consent. If researchers do not provide participants with all the safeguards of informed consent, they may face significant legal liability .

Elements of Informed Consent

As with informed consent to a medical procedure, three elements must be present in obtaining consent for participation in a medical study: capacity, voluntariness, and disclosure. Capacity refers to an individual’s ability to understand the circumstances and make decisions for him or herself. Voluntariness refers to an individual’s right to make a decision freely without being manipulated or coerced. The third element is often the trickiest: researchers must make a full disclosure of the foreseeable risks and benefits of participating in the study, so that volunteers can make an independent and educated decision about whether to participate. When researchers do not adequately make such disclosures, study subjects are unable to make fully informed decisions about their participation.

Lack of Informed Consent in Studies on Premature Babies

Failing to disclose risks to study participants is particularly troublesome when it comes to children, as they do not even have the capacity to consent. A recent article in the New York Times indicates that the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) has found that a study on the effect on oxygen levels for extremely premature babies failed to inform the parents of the serious risks, including blindness and death.

This study, spanning across 23 academic institutions – including the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Stanford, Duke, and Yale – involved approximately 1,300 babies who were born at somewhere between 24 to 27 weeks of gestation. Despite the fact that the researchers had enough prior information to warn parents that differing levels of oxygen might have different impacts on their babies’ chances of developing eye diseases or even of dying, the OHRP found that the consent forms made no mention of such risks. Ultimately, 130 babies in the low oxygen group died, while 91 babies in the high oxygen group developed eye diseases that could lead to blindness.

Since the OHRP’s findings are so new, it will be interesting to see if the parents decide to pursue litigation against the researchers for failing to warn them about the serious risks of eye disease and death that their babies could face in the study. Although the article indicates that the babies’ extremely early births made them more susceptible to blindness and death anyway, that does not change the fact that the parents had the right to be fully informed of the likely risks their babies would face in the oxygen study.

Many of the issues surrounding informed consent in research are very similar to the issues regarding informed consent for medical procedures. If you or someone you know think that you have been subject to any procedure without being fully informed of the risks, consider obtaining guidance from an attorney who deals with these issues.

See Other Blog Posts:

Birth Injury Lawsuit Part of Important Supreme Court Ruling

Understanding Brain Cooling & Birth Asphyxia

March 28, 2013

Current National Zinc Drug Shortage May Endanger Babies & Others

There is a national shortage of injectable zinc in hospitals, this current crisis lends to an environment where potentially negligent care is delivered to children as a result of a lack of access to this necessity. An article on NBCNews.com this week stated that the scarcity of zinc in hospitals resulted in seven documented instances where, already vulnerable, premature babies succumbed to atrocious skin lesions and suffered other, adverse, potentially, life-threatening reactions. Hospitals nationwide use the zinc as a key ingredient to nourish premature babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICU). During the final weeks of a full-term pregnancy an unborn child receives the necessary zinc in the womb. However, babies born prematurely require major doses of zinc to promote proper cell metabolism and growth. The zinc supplement for preemies is typically delivered via total parenteral nutrition (TPN) – which is basically food administered intravenously. The dangers of not receiving the zinc can vary from acute skin lesions to permanent cognitive impairment to death.

An estimated 120,000 babies may be in danger due to the zinc shortage. Reliance on TPN for nourishment is not exclusive to premature babies. Approximately 400,000 adults are prescribed TPN in hospitals, nursing homes and in-home care situations. Thus, these individuals are also at risk of suffering potentially deadly zinc deficiency related reactions because of the shortage.

According to a report published last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the two U.S. manufacturers of injectable zinc, Illinois-based, Hospira and New York-based, American Regent, have no inventory of the drug available. American Regent stopped production due to contamination and Hospira could not keep up with demand, however is scheduled to resume production this month.

Does legal recourse exist in personal injury law for those affected by drug shortages?
Personal injury law is a large umbrella that covers many various types of civil matters. Under this umbrella, our Chicago personal injury attorneys are experienced professionals working on issues like medical malpractice, injuries to children, nursing home abuse and neglect and wrongful death.

In a personal injury matter the injured party, also known as the plaintiff, seeks compensation for their injuries – which can be physical or psychological. The injuries sustained are due to the negligent behavior of the other party (the defendant). In order for the plaintiff to establish the defendant’s negligence our attorneys must establish four key elements:

1. the existence of a duty on the part of the defendant that protects the plaintiff from unreasonable injury,
2. a breach of that duty,
3. the breach caused the injury and
4. the plaintiff incurred damages.

Itemizing the issue to a four-element list promotes the appearance that it is easy or formulaic to determine whether or not negligence occurred. However, in most instances, it is far from simple. Each negligence matter comes with its own layers of complexity that must be closely examined on a case-by-case basis. The zinc deficiency story is a sound example of the latent complications surrounding a personal injury lawsuit wherein potentially multiple defendants exist that owe different duties of care to the plaintiff or plaintiffs involved.

Other factors that weigh in on personal injury matters include the statute of limitations – which are time limits within which legal proceedings may be brought – and also jurisdictional issues – that establish legal authority, from a geographical standpoint, over a matter.

The hospitals involved in the report involving the seven premature babies eventually received emergency batches of the zinc necessary to allow the already delicate babies a slow recovery. When a child is welcomed into the world, the baby’s parents want nothing more than to bring home from the hospital their healthy new family member without a hitch. Regrettably, that is not always the case and unfortunately, injuries may arise from impending complications and negligence.

See Related Blog Posts

The Dangers of “Cookbook” Medicine

Important New U.S. Supreme Court on Liability Following Harm Caused by Generic Drugs

March 21, 2013

Understanding Brain Cooling and Birth Asphyxia

Perhaps the most serious injuries that arise during a traumatic birth are those that affect the brain. Most injuries that are purely physical are obviously damaging, but there are more and more options to treat and account for injuries of a purely physical nature. On the other hand, harm that affects and infant brain is often incredibly debilitating affecting every area of their lives and influencing their long-term capabilities.

Oxygen Deprivation at Birth
Most birth injuries affecting the brain stem from asphyxia--when the brain is deprived of oxygen for an extended period of time. Many birth injury lawsuits have been filed in just these cases, because the prolonged oxygen deprivation is often caused by failure on the part of medical teams to act in a timely manner or to properly pick up on signs of fetal distress. Medical malpractice is not implicated every time that a child suffers a birth injury affecting the brain, but in far too many cases it is actually preventable.

Fortunately, medical experts have been working on different ways to minimize the harm caused by oxygen deprivation. One of the most promising (and now somewhat standard) procedures involves “brain cooling.” A recent article in Medical Express touched on how the cooling works to minimize long-term harm to infants following birth asphyxia.

Pointing to a New England Journal of Medicine study, the article explains how in high-income countries (like the United States), brain cooling is standard procedure. It involves lowering the infants overall body temperature (using water, ice, or cooling blankets) for an extended period of time. This can last for a few days. The goal is that the “cascading” effect of the brain damage can be stalled by cooling the organ. Different examinations of the effect of this cooling have found that there is a clear decrease in mortality rates for infants who are treated by this cooling method after the birth injury.

The most recent research into the effects on infants in lower income countries is less clear. It is not yet possible to determine if brain cooling improves long-term outcomes. This might seem odd. What would the difference be between infant outcomes depending on where they live? Shouldn’t the brain react the same way to a treatment regardless of the average income of the country where the child is born?

The answer is that it is a mistake to conclude that the mixed results with regard to low income countries somehow means that brain cooling doesn’t work. Instead, it is a product of the fact that the cooling is just one part of a complex series of treatments that infants need to survive after these complex births. They may be far less likely to receive that other care in lower income countries.

In other words, for those in Chicago and throughout Illinois, brain cooling remains an important medical tool if your infant suffers oxygen deprivation during birth. Though it is important to remember that the cooling is often not a permanent cure that wards off any ill effects. Many children will still suffer some long-term harm and need specialized care to account for possible detrimental effects. In those cases, when the deprivation may have been aggravated by inadequate medical care, then a birth injury lawsuit may be appropriate.

See Other Blog Posts:

The Value of Childbirth Education Classes

Call for Support for Medical Errors Documentary

February 7, 2013

Cerebral Palsy Treatment May Be Tied to Umbilical Cord Blood Cells

The Chicago cerebral palsy attorneys at our firm work with many local families whose youngsters suffer from the condition as a result of preventable birth injury. When helping family receive compensation for the lifetime of extra costs, we often explain how cerebral palsy does not have an actual cure--a fact which affects damages in a settlement or judgement. Instead, much of the work done now is helping those with cerebral palsy maximize their skill set and integrate into a community as much as possible despite the unique challenges they face.

However, just because there are limited options right now for recovery, does not mean that nothing will ever be known about reversing the brain damage which is the hallmark of cerebral palsy. Many medical researchers are working diligently on the problem, and it is reasonable to hope that advances will be made in the years and decades ahead.

For one thing, research out of Australia was published last month which offers a great sign that might ultimately lead to a cerebral palsy cure.

Cerebral Palsy & Umbilical Cord Blood Cells
According to a summary of the study which was published in the journal Stem Cells, participants in the research received an infusion of umbilical cord blood cells. Afterward, those patients showed significant improvement in brain function.

In describing the significance of the study, the head of a leading cerebral palsy research group exclaimed, “I think this is the most promising study we've ever seen in the area of stem cells. This is looking like a possible path to a cure."

The Specifics
The report explains how 30 different children with cerebral palsy were given treatments which included a combination of rehab and umbilical cord blood. The cord blood was donated and not connected with the specific child who received it as part of the study. Each participant was measured before the treatment to get a baseline estimate of cognitive and motor ability. The treatments then lasted six months before the children were re-tested.

The results showed that those children who receive the umbilical cord blood were showed far more improvement than those who did not receive the cells. Specifically, it seemed that the youngest children--those under three years old--showed the most significant improvement upon receipt of the umbilical cord blood.

Experts believe that the umbilical cord cells may help in recovery because the unique stem cells found in the umbilical cord blood may help to actually rejuvenate damaged or destroyed brain cells. Part of the reason why birth injuries connected to brain damage are so severe is that we currently have no way to actual reverse the damage. Stem cells offer one of the best opportunities to change that, because the cells are have very unique properties

There is still a way to go before such stem therapy treatments might be widely used by doctors. That is because close analysis of possible adverse effects must still be conducted. Once those potential negatives are sorted through, then experts can hopefully delve more specifically into the positive outcomes to understand how they were achieved and what can be done to maximize the benefit.

See Other Blog Posts:

Raising Awareness of In Utero Injuries

Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis Turned Out to Be Wrong

February 5, 2013

Contingency Agreements Are Crucial to Help Families Following Birth Injuries

The legal system is time-consuming and expensive. That is particularly true in medical malpractice cases, including Chicago birth injury matters, because the factual issues are quite complex. Hiring an expert witness, combing through medical records, and interviewing all those involved in a matter takes time and resources. The reality is that if those harmed by malpractice related to childbirth were forced to come up with all those costs at the outset, most people would not have any way to use the civil justice system. The costs would be prohibitive.

Fortunately, in birth injury cases, as in virtually all personal injury matters, contingency fee arrangements are used to ensure justice is pursued for all--both rich and poor alike. Recently the Center for Justice & Democracy released a helpful new report on the subject entitled Courthouse Cornerstone: Contingency Fees and Their Importance for Everyday Americans. It offers a range of helpful information about how these systems work and the value that they provide to the community.

Contingency Fee Basics
The main idea in a contingency fee agreement is to allow a plaintiff in a case to pay for legal fees and costs out of a judgement or settlement amount instead of up front. If no judgement or settlement is forthcoming--either because the case is lost or the defendant cannot pay--then the plaintiff loses nothing.

The alternatives are grim. Without contingency fees, only those with significant resources could pay for a case. Others would have to either borrow the money or not pursue justice. Considering the significant risks of borrowing and the fear of crushing debt, many families might choose not to pursue even the most valid cases. Everyone loses in those situations, because accountability is lost. If those who commit errors do not have to worry about paying for the consequences so long as the injured party is not rich, then there is far less incentive to change to improve safety.

Legal Fairness & Efficiency
Besides keeping justice open to everyone, contingency fees also influence attorneys to ensure matters are handled efficiently and that only meritorious cases are brought. In all the clamor from tort reform advocates about frivolous lawsuits, the fact is completely glossed over that attorneys themselves are the ones who stand to lose if failed cases are brought.

Consider the alternative. Besides contingency fee arrangements, the most common way that attorneys are paid are via the billable hour. Like in many other professions, an attorney can charge an hourly rate and then bill the client for the specific work performed based on that amount of time. Under those conditions, an attorney stands to make the most profit by taking any cases from a paying client--regardless of the merit of the case. Similarly, the attorney can make more money by dragging out the matter so that more work hours (and payments) are required.

The exact opposite is true with contingency arrangements. What matters in these situations is fair and efficient settlements. The more time spent on a case does not necessarily mean more money for an attorney. Additionally, there is no benefit to bringing a case that an attorney does not feel can be proven in court. All that will happen in those cases is the attorney will spend significant time and firm resources without any return. A plaintiff’s law firm will not survive as a business if they take frivolous cases or work inefficiently.

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Insurance Companies: Never Deal With Them on Your Own

Legal Liability and Maternal Injuries

January 21, 2013

Bachelor Contestant Raises Awareness of In Utero Injuries

Social media chatter has been abuzz the last few weeks over a new contestant in the reality TV romance shown known as The Bachelor. One of the contestants on the latest season is a woman who was born with only one full arm as a result of a birth injury. These television shows are not exactly known for their ability to spark useful national conversations. However, in this case, the contestant has worked hard to ensure her newfound celebrity is used to share important information about the risks of injury to developing children.

In Utero Injuries
The 25-year old contestant, Sarah Herron, has thus far survived the first two rounds of the contest. As explained in a new VOXXI article, Herron’s injury developed in utero and was caused by amniotic band syndrome. This is a quite rare condition, which is caused when the fetus becomes tangled in strands of the amniotic sac. This situation influences the development of the fetus. The strands can constrict the growth depending on where they are located on the fetus. In many cases it results in a limb amputation. In Herron’s case it occurred in her left arm at the elbow.

In sharing information about her condition, Herron points out there are are many other in utero injuries. For one thing, many in utero injuries are caused by what the mother ingested when she was pregnant. Sadly, one major problem remains the ingestion of illicit substances--too much alcohol or drugs ingested by the mother can obviously cause serious harm to the development of the child. In other cases chemical exposures by the mother may act in the same way.

On top of that, in utero injuries may be caused by physical trauma to the mother. For example, many mothers-to-be who are involved in car accidents may suffer force on the body that causes problems for the fetus. The development of infections may also lead to injuries in a developing child.

All of these situations--and many others that occur during the birth itself--can cause physical injuries (as in Herron’s case) as well as mental difficulties. Beyond physical limitations things like cerebral palsy may develop if an injury affect’s the brain’s development or deprives oxygen to the brain

Public Perception
Herron is also trying to send a message that being born with certain injuries, like hers, does not automatically mean that society should view her as “disabled.” She put it succinctly, “Having one arm does not define who I am.”

Our birth injury attorneys are glad that more public figures with various birth injuries are able to share their stories and raise awareness of these conditions. Sometimes these injuries are not preventable (or hard to prevent), like the condition that affected Herron. However, in other cases the injury could have been prevented with better prenatal care or proper treatment to emergencies during the birth itself.

If you or a loved one ever experiences a birth injury which may have been preventable, it is important to remember that the law may allow you to receive compensation. In our area a Chicago birth injury attorney can listen to your story and explain what can be done under the law to ensure full accountability.

See Other Blog Posts:

Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis Turned Out To Be Wrong

Legal Liability & Maternal Injuries

January 2, 2013

Five Birth Injury Lawsuits Filed Against a Single Hospital

Most medical professionals provide top-notch service to their patients day in and day out. All of us rely on the skill and expertise of doctors, nurses, technicians, aides, and others to ensure we live our healthiest and fullest life. That care begins as soon as we enter the world, as medical professionals are responsible for ensuring childbirth goes as smooth as possible.

Yet, recognizing the value of these medical professionals does not mean that one must turn a blind eye to inadequate medical care. At the end of the day, not all medical teams provide the same quality of care. For a variety of reasons there are some professionals and institutions which time and again fail to meet the required standard of care, causing harm to patients. Demanding accountability and ensuring redress following those incidents is the purpose of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Handful of Birth Injury Cases
The need to demand legal accountability is particularly strong when an individual doctor or hospital is chronically negligent. It is usually only then that comprehensive changes are made which ensure long-term patient safety. Far too many institutions allowed problems to fester, and they have little incentive to change unless forced.

For example, recently a story at FOX 5 discussed how an attorney has filed five birth injury lawsuits against one medical center. The suits allege that quality of care violations led to the death of four babies and the serious injury of another. The total number of incidents is a reminder of the fact that poor safety conditions are certain facilities often lead many patients to suffer harm.

A recent press conference was held discussing the situation. At the meeting each of the mother’s shared their story of heartbreak and loss. One of the women described how she herself was also injured during the traumatic childbirth. She noted that the child’s head became stuck during the delivery. The problem was not corrected for so long that the child was turning purple and blue. Fortunately the baby in that case survived, but she was injured--suffering “nerve palsy” in her right arm.

Interestingly, all of the mothers are younger and of limited socio-economic means. The lawyer in the case is exploring whether the demographics of the patients affected the care that they received at the medical institution. Summarizing, the attorney explained, “I think you're entitled to equal medical care. It doesn't matter what's your socio-economic background or race is. It ought not matter."

Sadly, the reality is that certain community members often receive less adequate care as a result of the community in which they live. Those individuals who are forced to go to a local institution which is of poorer quality may be more likely to fall victim to medical malpractice.

It is important for those in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois to remember that no matter where you receive medical care, it is critical that proper standards be maintained. If you or someone you know believes that you have been harmed by poor care, consider getting in touch with a Chicago birth injury lawyer to share your story and learn about your options.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

WSJ on Steep Rise in Maternal Birth Complications

Childbirth Costs: Then and Now

December 18, 2012

WSJ On Steep Rise in Maternal Birth Complications in the U.S.

When we think about the quality of medical care in the United States today, there is a tendency to automatically assume it is moving in a linear direction. As with everything else, we assume quality of care progresses without interruption year after year. Patients are safer today than they were last year and were safer last year than the year before that--or so we think.

While more and more medical advances have undoubtedly built up over the years, it is a mistake to automatically assume that patient safety has similarly improved significantly. In other words, medical professionals have more treatment options than ever before, but that doesn’t mean that medical patients are less likely to fall victim to a medical error than ever before. That is true in many medical settings, including childbirth.

For example, the Wall Street Journal published a story this week on the alarming rise of maternal complications during childbirth. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the previous decade there was a sharp increase in the rate of severe complications for mothers during and after the delivery of a child. Those complications include respiratory problems, kidney failure, and cardiac arrest. In some cases those problems were 75% more common in the last decade compared with the previous one.

The article explains how of the roughly 4 million annual births, 52,000 result in severe maternal complications which are life-threatening.

Causes & Solutions
One of the main reasons for the significant increase in severe complications is the increasing pregnancies which are deemed “high risk.” These include mothers who may be older or obese. Also, more woman with chronic health problems like kidney disease and diabetes are giving birth now compared to the past.

But high-risk pregnancies are not the only thing that leads to life-threatening complications during childbirth. In fact, the most common severe maternal birth problem is hemorrhaging--severe bleeding--which affects even the healthiest of mothers.

It is important that more focused be placed on these maternal risks, as they often receive less attention that birth injuries affecting the actual babies. Historically childbirth has always been one of the most common ways that women were killed or injured. In some parts of the world the maternal death rates remain incredibly high. While many strides have been made over the decades in many places, it is a mistake to forget about the risks that remain, even in the most developed countries.

Considering the dangers, it remains incredibly important for medical professionals to be prepared and to act appropriately when signs of problems develop. A professional interview for the WSJ story explained that, “Regardless of age or health, when things go wrong they can go south very fast, and you need a well-oiled team trained to respond in times of crisis."

If you or a loved one may not have received reasonable medical care during childbirth leading to harm to the mother or child, please get in touch with the lawyers at our firm. We have extensive experience with these and are available to help.

See Our Related Post:

Childbirth Costs: Then and Now

Therapy to Avoid Unnecessary C-Sections?

November 8, 2012

Horrific Abuse of Child with Cerebral Palsy Leads to Criminal Charges

There is a misconception among some that negligence cases, including those related to birth injuries, are all about revenge or punishing those that make mistakes. However, that is not at all true. Instead, the entire focus of the civil justice system relates to compensation for losses--not hurting the negligent party, but helping the injured party recover. In fact there is a reson that the damages award in these case are called "compensatory" damages. It is only in incredibly rare situations where "punitive" damages are awarded which are meant to punish the wrongdoer.
In the birth injury context, of course, the purpose of the case is to ensure the injured child has access to the high-quality resources they need to live a full and healthy life, regardless of their injuries.

What is often forgotten is that when those professionals who cause injuries are not required to pay for the consequeneces of those injuries, then the burden falls on taxpayers. The Medicaid system, for example, is often required to pay for support for those injured at birth. Ultimately then, if those responsible for the injury do not pay, then all of us pay for care.

But sadly, public resources are rarely able to provide the best quality care. That is because funds are incredibly tight for virtually all governing programs. As a result, resources going to those enrolled in programs in Medicaid are often the bare minimum. Those families hoping that their child would have the best care possible rarely suggest that public funds provide that best care.
In fact, in some case, when an injured child does not have access to adequate resoures, they may be more likely to fall victim to obvious neglect and abuse. The results are horrific.

Abuse of Child with Cerebral Palsy
This was demonstrated in a recent article in the Washington Post which delved into the sentence in a criminal case involving a nurse for a child who had cerebral palsy. The nurse was charged with providing care to the girl at her parent's home six days a week. However, that care was not provided. In fact, it seems that the nurse bascially did nothing, allowing the 14-year old girl to essentially starve to death. The teen died last year. She weighed only 28 pounds when she passed. On top of that, investigators noted that she had many bedsores on her body and was living in "filthy conditions." The coroner in the case apparently said that this was the "worst malnourished child" that his office had ever seen.

The prosecutor in the case noted that the nursing had a responsibility to care for the girl. Obviously, with severe cerebral palsy, the child was entirely dependent on that care. When that duty was utterly neglected, then the child suffered dramatically.

Criminal charges were filed against both the girl's mother and the nurse. The mother is currently serving a nine year prison sentence. In this case the nurse pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter shortly before her trial was set to begin. She was enventually given the maximum sentence--ten years in jail--after the plea.

Legal Help Following Birth Injury
Of course, none of this is to suggest that this sort of utter neglect is common for those children who are forced to receive support via public resources. However, it is fair to say that there is likely a big difference in the amount of care that a birth injury victim receives when they have outside resources versus those using a public program. That is not because of the lack of quality of caregivers providing support but instead a reflection of the incredibly tight resources that these agencies are forced to work with on occassion.

See Other Blog Posts:
Birth Compications Rising in the U.S.?

Cerebral Palsy Develops After Delayed C-Section

September 27, 2012

Erb’s Palsy, Medical Malpractice, and Birth Injury Lawsuits

What is Erb’s Palsy? It is another form of the more well-known cerebral palsy? Not quite.

Instead, Erb’s Palsy refers to a weakness or paralysis of the arm--usually caused by damage to a nerves on the neck and arms. Birth complications and excessive force are common factors in these cases. Erb’s Palsy is often referred to by other names, like Klumpke’s Palsy or a brachial plexus injury. In all cases, however, the underlying damage is similar--physical harm that may cause lifelong complications for the child for the rest of their life.

What causes Erb’s Palsy?

The harm is caused during the birthing process. It refers to cases where there is damage to the nerve tissue (brachial plexus) at the upper arm and shoulder. The scope of the damage to the nerve bundle can vary, which affects the ability to correct the problem and the chance that the injury will last a lifetime. Fortunately, in most cases the injury, if minor, the damage can heal on its own. But there are other times when the damage is too severe for that. Also the exact nerves that are damaged affect that mobility problems are suffered. For example, if the nerves in the lower part of the brachial plexus are injured, then the effect is usually difficulty with the hand and wrist. That is usually referred to as Klumpke’s Palsy.

Preventing Erb’s Palsy
Obviously no family wants their new addition to face any complications when entering the world, let alone a physical injury that may affect their strength and movement for a lifetime. It goes without saying that these injuries should be prevented whenever possible. In most cases, the injury is always preventable. That is because the physical damage to the brachial plexus can be eliminated if proper steps are taken by medical providers.

In most cases the underlying problem is some sort of birthing complications--like a breech birth (feet first) or shoulder dystocia (baby’s shoulder caught on pelvic bone). These complications must be carefully managed by medical professionals. After all, one seeks out the help of experts during the birth specifically to handle these tricky situations.

Unfortunately, when too much force is applied by the practitioner (pulling or pushing), then the infant’s vulnerable nerve bundle may be damaged. In some cases a C-section needs to be performed to minimize the harm caused by complications during the vaginal birth.

It is critical that families act early to seek diagnosis of one of these injuries and get proper treatment. Timing matters. In many cases, an infant can recover significantly if adequate physical therapy is begun early. In other cases, neurosurgery or tendon transfer surgery may be necessary. But in all cases, it is important to act quickly. In many cases a lawyer can help work ensure there is accountability so that resources are available to provide the therapy or surgery necessary to help your child. Do not delay in seeking help with these issues, because there are legal time requirements on top of the basic need for fast medical care.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

New Tool to Aid with Cerebral Palsy

Lawsuit Alleges Cerebral Palsy Caused by Birth Injury

July 17, 2012

Mother Raises Awareness of Brachial Plexus Injuries

This week one mother was interviewed by WWAY News to discuss the serious, but underappreciated, harm caused by shoulder dystocia and possible brachial plexus injuries. Each Chicago birth injury attorney at our firm has worked with many families on these issues and understand the importance of being aware of the risks and accounting for potential complications. Far too many families only learn about these injuries after they strike a newborn unexpectedly. Sadly, the injuries often occur because of medical malpractice.

In the interview the mother explains the problems that develop when her son was born. She notes that she was pushing for four hour solid hours. She notes that she was lying flat on her back throughout this period, which is the worst position to be in and may lead to increased risk of shoulder dystocia. At this time her son’s shoulder became caught on her pelvic bone. As a result, the child suffered a brachial plexus injury. The mother specifically noted that the boy suffered an injury to his C-5 and C-6 vertebrae.

The injury caused some arm mobility problems for the child. He has limited functioning in the arms that were injured. She notes, for example, that he can touch his head but not his back with the arm. Surgery was ultimately required to try to improve the young boy’s arm functioning, but it remains far from perfect.

To help raise awareness of the issue the mother in this case is leading a petition drive to share information on the risk factors. She notes, for example, that more than normal weight gain during the pregnancy may be a sign of increased risk, as is gestational diabetes

The mother also referred those interested in learning more to the resource United Brachial Plexus Network,Inc. Their website can be found HERE.

The website provides a wealth of information. For example, it notes that two to three out of every 1,000 birth involves a brachial plexus injury. This is an incidence rate far higher many other, more well known injuries, like Downs Syndrome. In addition the website reassures mothers that the injuries are never the mother’s fault. In fact, the site notes that many of these injuries can be avoided if proper gynecological techniques are used through a delivery, including positioning issues.

If you are interested in delving into many of the specifics of the issues, a good first place to look in the resource page for the UPBN, Inc. The page is HERE. This includes discussion of all facets of brachial plexus issues, and ways for everyone to chat with others about any unique questions that they might have.

Our Illinois brain injury lawyers urge all local mothers to be aware of this birth injury. As we have advised many residents, while some instances are entirely accidental, there are other times when these injuries could and should have been prevented. If you suspect that medical negligence may have a played a role in your child’s injury, be sure to seek out legal representation as soon as possible.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

New Birth Injury Lawsuit Alleges Failure to Address Gestational Diabetes

Proper Care Needed to Prevent Shoulder Dystocia Injuries

July 11, 2012

Examining the Safety of Home Births

The Daily Herald published an interesting story this week examining the dangers and risks (or lack of risks) of home births. The Chicago birth injury attorneys at our firm appreciate that for a wide range of reasons, many local residents chose to deliver their child outside of the traditional hospital. Of course it is helpful for those families to understand exactly what these births are like and if they come with risks that should be considered.

The article explains how home births are obviously growing in popularity, which expectedly comes with a rise in the number of tragedies that occur. Our birth injury lawyers have frequently shared information on some of the more high-profile stories of home births gone awry.

The story highlights one doctor who is a fierce critic of home births. The doctor argues that “even the studies that claim to show that homebirth is as safe as hospital birth actually show the opposite.” Yet the doctor has come under criticism for the aggressive argument against home births. Some are pushing back.

Many note that scientific analysis of home birth risks versus hospital risks are hard to parse through. There may never be a “gold standard” controlled trial, because to do so would require tens of thousands of home births used as part of the study. That is likely impossible, because there are only about 30,000 planned births nationwide annually anyway.

To be sure some medical care providers are outspokenly against at-home births. Many vehemently argue that hospitals are obviously the safest place for a birth. Yet supporters argue that medical pushback is part of the problem, because midwives are not integrated into the hospital system in the United States as they are in other parts of the world.

Those advocating home births further suggest that it is important not to take some tragedies as proof positive of risks for all home births. Obviously tragedies happen, but the underlying analysis about the safety (or lack of safety) of this delivery method shouldn’t be tarred by single examples. Of course, similar example of birthing injuries and errors could be pulled out of hospital settings. Systematic, controlled data is needed to make broad pronouncements about the merit of home births.

In addition, some argue that risk of complications are higher in a hospitals, which is a hidden risk. The author writes that “we can look at data showing our risk of infection skyrockets the second we step into a hospital.” That should be factored into the decision.

Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm understands that debate about the merit of home births are unlikely to end anytime soon. At the end of the day families are going to make the choice that they feel is right for them. No matter what, however, we believe firmly that those families deserve to receive reasonable care by doctors, nurses, midwives, and others involved in the process. When that care is not provided and injury results, then an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit might be appropriate to ensure accountability and redress.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Natural Childbirth Organizations Growing in Popularity

Midwives Settle Lawsuit for $5 Million, But Family Unlikely to Receive Award

June 18, 2012

Dangers of “Placental Cerebral Infarction”

Many parents with children who suffer birth injuries are understandably confused when they learn about specific ailments which affected their youngsters. Much of the detailed medical information is difficult to fully understand. Our Illinois birth injury attorneys appreciate that it is downright impossible for most families to understand on their own how or why the injury arose. This presents complications for legal accountability, because many do not even realize that they were hurt by a medical mistake that should have been prevented. For that reason, it remains important to share information about some of the basic injuries which may be caused by medical negligence. In this way, more families will hopefully seek out professional advice to understand how to proceed in their case.

Placental Cerebral Infarction
For example, one term that parents might hear from their medical professionals about a birth injury is a condition known as “placental cerebral infarction.” It refers to a problem that affect the flow of blood from the placenta to a fetus. The blood flow problem is damaging because it restricts oxygen flow during development or in the midst of a procedure. The consequences of these injuries are severe. Cerebral palsy is just one of many disabilities which is sometimes connected to the condition.

What Causes It?
The condition has various causes, and it arises at different stages--throughout the pregnancy or during the labor/delivery. Experts explain that some factors leading to the problem include maternal diabetes, “fetal anemia” (inadequate red blood cells in circulatory system), preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnant mother), and other situations.

In addition, it is vital for medical professionals to avoid cerebral hypoxia. For example, when a Caesarean section is being performed, a mistake may lead to excessive bleeding if the placenta or uterus is damaged. This problem affects the infant’s blood supply and may subsequently deprive the brain of oxygen. Prolonged oxygen deprivation is a very serious birth injury that may have lifelong consequences for the child.

In mild cases there may only be limited problems, like memory issues or learning disabilities. In more severe cases cerebral palsy, seizures, or even more severe problems might arise--some might be fatal.

Cerebral palsy is one of the more common outcomes following this sort of injury. Many local families may have a child with the condition which was caused by oxygen flow problems. Cerebral palsy often does not manifest until a child is 2-3 years old. This makes it difficult for many families to connect the problem with potential negligence--if it occurred.

As the Chicago cerebral palsy attorneys at our firm often explain to local residents, the long-term consequences of cerebral palsy can be quite costly. Ensuring that a child with cerebral palsy has access to the full range of therapies and resources necessary to help his or her development often demands accountability on the part of medical professionals whose errors led to the injury. That is where civil lawsuits come in. If you or someone you know may have been hurt in this way, it is advisable to seek out a legal professional as soon as possible to learn more.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Doctors Explain How Medical Malpractice May Cause Cerebral Palsy

Lawsuit Alleges Cerebral Palsy Caused by Birth Injury

June 13, 2012

Doctors Explains How Medical Malpractice May Cause Cerebral Palsy

PR Web shared a story this week on a doctor’s presentation which outlined how medical malpractice can be at the root of a child developing cerebral palsy. The licensed physician (who is also an attorney), explained how certain negligent conduct on the part of an individual doctor or hospital frequently causes brain damage which manifests as cerebral palsy. The doctor’s thoughts were published in recent issues of Forum magazine. Our Illinois birth injury attorneys frequently work with local families whose children develop cerebral palsy as a result of malpractice.

Cerebral Palsy Causes
Of course in a legal case alleging that medical malpractice resulted in cerebral palsy, determining the cause of the injury is paramount. The doctor explained how there are many ways that cerebral palsy may develop during the labor and delivery process. Oxygen deprivation to the brain, premature delivery, head trauma, or infection may all lead to the condition. Some cases of cerebral palsy develop well-before the baby is born, but others arise during the birthing process itself.

Challenge of Identifying Malpractice
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing families in this situation is the time delay between the development of symptoms and the actual birth. In many cases, a child will not fully show the symptoms of cerebral palsy until 2-3 years after the birth. This makes it difficult for families that suspect malpractice was involved to properly identify the underly medical negligence and obtain evidence to prove it.

This is one reason why timing is crucial in these matters. In most cases it is never too early to meet with a legal professional to share your story and ask for help investigating the situation. The birth injury lawyer will be able to review medical records, interview parties, and try to get to the bottom of the situation.

Why File a Lawsuit Following Cerebral Palsy?
It is undeniable that over the course of a lifetime a child with cerebral palsy will need close care, treatment, and support. That aid is expensive--quickly adding up to millions of dollars. What is a family to do to pay for those costs? If the child developed the condition as a result of unpreventable causes, then the family usually relies on their own resources, insurance, and public programs designed to help. However, if the injury would have been prevented had the medical professional acted appropriately, then it is reasonable for the professional and their employer (who have insurance for these situations) compensate the family for the harm caused.

The suit often means that families who otherwise are forced to scrape by and make serious sacrifices that lessen their loved one’s quality of life will be able to provide adequate resources to ensure their child develops as well as possible. In addition, by holding the negligent individual or facility accountable, the taxpayers are spared the cost of supporting the injured party. In other words, using the legal system in this way ensures that accountability is spread to those who actually played a role in the birth injury.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Girl with Cerebral Palsy Thrives Despite the Odds

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June 4, 2012

Illinois Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Filed After Birth Injury

Injury Lawyer News shared information last week on a new Illinois birth injury lawsuit recently filed in Cook County. The facts of the case are similar to those that occur quite frequently in Chicago and throughout the state.

Shoulder Dystocia
The lawsuit, filed last November, alleges that medical malpractice on the part of a hospital and medical team during childbirth led a child to experience a permanent physical injury. The mother in the case was admitted to the hospital in late December 2010. The suit claims that during the delivery the child’s shoulder became caught on the mother’s public bone. This is a condition known as shoulder dystocia—it is an emergency situation that must be handled properly by medical teams.

Each hospital should have a standard set of procedures in place to deal with shoulder dystocia. In general, the medical team should attempt those standard maneuvers. If they do not work, then an emergency C-section delivery is often necessary. The surgical birth is needed because too much pressure or inappropriate force applied to the baby while stuck can cause severe damage. In particular, a bundle of nerves in the child’s shoulder known as the brachial plexus, can be stretched, cut, or torn. The nerve damage will severely affect the child’s ability to use the arm and hand.

The Negligence
In this case, the family alleges that the medical team failed to properly identify when the infant’s shoulder became caught. As a result, they did not abide by proper procedures. An emergency C-section was not ordered. In addition, one of the doctor’s allegedly applied inappropriate force to the child’s head and neck. The force caused severe damage to the brachial plexus.

As a result, the child was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy. According to Pub Med Health, Erb’s Palsy refers to a type of brachial plexus injuries affecting both the upper and lower arm. Sometimes similar injuries are referred to simply as a brachial plexus injury or Klumpke palsy.

After learning more about their child’s injury and the cause of the injury, the family sought out a medical malpractice lawyer and filed suit.

Legal Help Following Chicago Birth Injuries
Each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firm works on cases related to negligence during childbirth. When selecting an attorney to help you with a case of this nature, it is crucial to select someone with experience on these exact matters. Medical malpractice cases are often quite complex. Experts must be hired and complex investigations are often needed to build up a paper trial evidence of the misconduct.

In most cases, after much of the case has been fleshed out in the discovery process, the two sides will come together and try to negotiate a settlement. This is beneficial for both sides, because it is often clear at this point what evidence is available to prove the case. Reaching an agreement without the time or expense of a trial is often possible. Having assistance from a team of attorneys with wide-ranging experience in these matters usually means that a favorable settlement is more likely to occur.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

World’s Largest Study Underway on the Fear of Childbirth

Mothers and Children at Risk in Early Cesarean Sections

June 1, 2012

Setting the Record Straight on Medical Malpractice Premiums

Each Illinois birth injury lawyer at our firm works with patients whose children suffered serious, often life-altering injuries as a result of medical malpractice. Unfortunately, public misunderstanding about medical malpractice lead many to make overblown and downright false claims about the effect that all Illinois medical malpractice cases—including birth injury suits—have on the healthcare profession as a whole.

It is vital to set the record straight.

One of the more popular repeated refrains is that there are rising numbers of malpractice suits, the payouts are getting higher, and medical malpractice insurance premiums for doctors are rising. The rising premiums, certain people say, lead to higher medical costs for everyone.

This is not true.

The Reality
To debunk this myth one need only look at information released by those who themselves are advocating for “tort reform” proposals to limit the rights of injury victims. New statistics have recently been released by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The data provides a wealth of information about the amount of premiums collected, the amount paid out in claims, defense costs, and cost containment ratios. The data shows how all of these figures have changed from year to year.

What do they show?

Far from claims made by tort reform proponents, the malpractice insurance industry is thriving—with costs continuing to drop. The total number of “incurred expenses” has dropped very quickly over the past nine years. In 2003 those expenses totaled about $8.5 billion. Last year the figure was only at $3.6 billion. Consider that this represents a 56% decline in eight years without even accounting for inflation.

The costs for malpractice insurance are also shown not to have “skyrocketed” as many continue to point out. They have shown a similar, though less robust, decline over the past half decade.

The “loss rates” for these companies has shown similar trends, indicating that the insurance industry is making more money than ever before. From a high of 126.83% in 2001 to rates that are just over 50% in the last four years.

All of this data from the NAIC mirrors information in a different database—the National Practitioner Data Bank. This database, which monitors information for individual doctors (not hospitals) shows that payments have declined for ten years in a row. The total payouts have been cut in half over less than a ten year period.

What This Means
Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys understand that all of this means that claims made by tort reform proponents are downright wrong. Arguments about rising malpractice costs and payouts bear zero resemblance to information from the insurance industry’s own databases.

The truth is that the rash of intrusive tort reform laws have severely limited the rights of injured patients to seek recovery for the harm they experience as a result of negligence. The total number of medical mistakes and patients errors has not declined. This represents a tragic skewing of priorities where the big medical interests and insurance companies are allowed to make bigger profits while patients continue to suffer the same as always.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

It Remains Difficult For Some Victims to Receive Compensation For Their Harm

Respected National Think Tank Criticizes Damage Caps

May 25, 2012

State Considering Most Far Reaching Tort “Reform” Laws Yet

M Live is reporting on an incredibly dangerous new string of medical malpractice “reform” bills that would decimate the ability of patients in the state of Michigan to seek redress when hurt by incompetent medical care. Families who suffer birth injuries as a result of poor care would undoubtedly also be affected by these measures if they become law. Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm appreciates that to need to set the record straight on these issues.

Not only will the supposed “benefits” of these plans ever come to fruition, but community members will find their legal rights completely decimated. Unfortunately, most residents will not be made fully aware of the problem unless they are injured by medical errors themselves and are in need of legal recourse.

The Proposed Michigan Law

Michigan already passed a string of “tort reform” laws in the mid-1990s which arbitrarily capped damages and otherwise made it harder for those hurt by medical malpractice—including birth injury victims—from filing a suit and making it to trial.

But now certain entities are pushing for even more aggressive legislation that would completely decimate the rights of state residents. The series of bills would eliminate the ability to recover for certain damages altogether. Perhaps even more egregiously, the bill would alter the fundamental concepts of negligence in certain civil suits.

All those familiar with the civil justice system appreciate the role of the objective standards of reasonableness that guides lawsuits by one community members against another private citizen, business, or public body. The idea is simple. When determining whether one acted negligently, we compare the actions of the individual against the actions of “reasonable” people in the same situation. For medical cases, that means the actions of the doctor, nurse, or aide is compared with that of an objectively reasonable doctor, nurse, or aide. Understanding what the reasonable medical professional would do is accomplished in large part via use of expert witnesses.

However, one of the bills would do away with the fundamental reasonableness standard. Instead, patients hurt by inadequate care would have to prove that the individual medical professionals subjectively intended to cause them harm. Every Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm—and all civil lawyers—understand intuitively that this standard is virtually impossible to meet.

In practical terms this means that the patient cannot recover no matter what, so long as the doctor doesn’t admit that he actually intended to perform incompetently. That means doctors who were drunk at the time, falling asleep, or otherwise completely unable to do their job adequately would still get a free pass no matter how bad they hurt the unsuspecting patient.

It is difficult to understand how any reasonable legislator or resident could support this sort of attack on the basic sense of fairness in our system. It is incumbent upon all of us to spread accurate information about these proposals. Those voting on these measure should understand what they are doing when they completely immunize medical professionals from all liability—shifting the costs of the errors away from the responsible parties and onto taxpayers.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Dramatic Rise in Cesarean Births

Report Finds Recent Rise in C-Section Births

May 23, 2012

Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuit Settlement By Levin & Perconti

Virtually all Illinois birth injury cases are forms of medical malpractice lawsuits. As such, the issue is whether the medical professionals acted reasonably at every stage of the process. If they did not, and their unreasonable conduct led to injuries, than the injured party (or their family) may be able to seek compensation for the harm.

In medical malpractice cases, the determination of a medical professional’s reasonableness depends on comparisons to accepted practices and standards and the conduct of other reasonably prudent professionals in the area. When these cases arise, an Illinois medical malpractice attorney will investigate exactly what happened and then determine if other medical experts would have acted differently in the circumstances. If so, than the lawsuit is filed and the case will usually either settle or go to trial. In more cases than not, the parties involved are able to reach a fair settlement without the need to go to trial.

That is was happened in a case last month involving a birth injury lawsuit against Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The Case
The family in the case was expecting twins. The mother was 44 years old when she became pregnant with the two babies using in vitro fertilization. The pregnancy itself went without a hitch. Everyone seemed to be going well even after the first twin was born. Problems did not arise until the second twin began showing signs of distress. As blog readers know, when an infant is in fetal distress, getting the child out of the mother as soon as possible is usually paramount. That didn’t appear to happen in this case.

Instead of ordering an emergency C-section the attending physician kept performing different procedures to deliver the child vaginally. The doctor performed multiple vacuum extractions, used forceps, and even attempted an internal cephalic version, which is a maneuver where a hand is inserted fully into the uterus.

As a result of all of the aggressive techniques, the child suffered a variety of injuries. The boy was born with spinal hemorrhages, brain hemorrhages, and had oxygen deprivation. The injuries are severe for anyone, but it is particularly difficult for a newborn to recover from those harms. Unfortunately, the child in this case was not able to pull through, and he died six days after he was born.

The Settlement
Our Illinois birth injury lawyers filed a Chicago medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of the deceased child’s estate. The suit alleged that the medical team acted unreasonably in not ordering an emergency C-section that would have meant the aggressive techniques were not necessary which likely would have prevented the fatal injuries.

Recently the parties in the case reached an amicable settlement. The defendant-hospital agreed to pay $3.5 million in compensation to the family as a result of the incident.

Failure to Perform C-Section
These sorts of cases are one of the more common ways that serious birth injuries develop. When fetal distress occurs, medical professionals must act reasonably to ensure that baby is given the best chance possible of being born without serious injuries. In many cases that might mean ordering an emergency C-section. If that step is not taken and if serious injuries result, then the medical staff may have committed malpractice.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Accident Lawsuit Reveals Extreme Emotional Pain Associated with Loss

Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed After Child Born with Cerebral Palsy

May 9, 2012

More Parents Considering Hypnobirthing to Control Labor Pains

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers are very attuned to the fact that common practices in pregnancy and labor change over time. Of course, on one hand this is caused by advances in safe medical practices to ensure that birth injuries are prevented and youngsters are given the best chance possible to enter the world without long-term health problems. Beyond the health-related changes in the process, there are many other trends that are less directly connected to specific medical advances.

For example, ABC News published another story this week on the growing popularity of “hypnobirthing.” This is a new process by which expectant mother try to control the pain of childbirth without the need for medication intervention. The growth in the use of this option mirrors a trend that our Chicago birth injury attorneys have previously discussed—changes in epidural use.

The article explains that hypnosis itself is a much different concept than most immediately understand. Hypnotists are usually connected to comedy events, with audience members forced to act silly for the pleasure of everyone else. But beyond the humorous uses, hypnosis is a very real mental state connected to intense focus on concentration. As such, when done properly, it may be used to help people deal with difficult, chaotic, or painful situations. Those adjectives often apply to childbirth, and so some mothers are trying to use the mental state to their advantage when giving birth to their children.

One woman who used hypnobirthing explained how she used the techniques to help during the birth of her daughter a year and a half ago. She noted that many women are understandably afraid of pain, and so the technique can be a very helpful way to help handle those fears. She summarized the process thusly: “Hypnobirthing is letting your own mind surrender to your own body and letting your body take control and birth your baby.”

Of course, an industry has grown to help mothers learn the techniques and used them appropriately when the time comes. One hypnobirthing instructor explained that mothers usually take several classes while pregnant to help learn proper breathing and concentration techniques. The ultimate goal is to allow mothers to self-hypnotize during labor.

That hypnotic state is not sleep, but it is somewhat similar in that the one hypnotized is not fully aware of their surroundings. It is an intermediary, relaxed state which allows the body to work without the mind interfering and acting on or thinking about the pain. Mothers admit that the process doesn’t eliminate all pain during labor. However, it allows the pain to be controlled and the mother to work through the process.

Each Illinois birth injury attorney at our firms appreciates that there is no single right ways for any family to go through the pregnancy and labor process. Each community member has their own preferences about where to give birth and what interventions to accept. At the end of the day all that matters is that those charged without helping out through this process—like doctors, nurses, and midwives—act according to reasonable standards. Mothers are not guaranteed a perfect outcome but they are protected against other hurting them with negligent aid.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Accident Lawsuit Reveals Extreme Emotional Pain Associated with Loss

Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed After Child Born with Cerebral Palsy

May 8, 2012

Defending the Civil Justice System Makes Patients Safer

All discussions in recent years about the civil justice system are intensely focused on legislative proposals that are often referred to as “tort reform.” For some community members, reading about these proposals is the only connection they have with the civil justice system. As a result, our know that many of these residents may have a skewed view of what it means for private citizens to file suit seeking redress for the harms suffered as a result of the misconduct of others.

That is why we applaud a recent article published in the State-Journal Register by the President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association Jerry Latherow. The story is a helpful reminder about the underlying purpose of the civil justice system, ensuring that everyone is treated fairly, from the most vulnerable citizen—like newborn babies—to the most powerful businesses and corporations. This power differential is perhaps at their height in Illinois birth injury cases, when our youngest children seek recovery for their losses against large healthcare industry companies. The fact that these children can recover for their losses and receive redress for the care they will need throughout their lives is a testament to the merits of the civil justice system.

Of course, this basic idea—holding everyone accountable for the harm that they unnecessarily cause of others—applies in many different situations. From big oil companies and the insurance industry to the financial titans and prescription drug companies, private industries often make decisions based entirely on profit-maximization, even when innocent consumers are hurt in the process.

When trying to take away the rights of individual victims hurt by their conduct, our Illinois birth injury lawyers knows that these industries often claim that there are enough safeguards in place because of state and federal regulations. However, this argument fails in two ways. First, it is clear that regulators woefully lack the resources to ensure proper standards and actual laws are upheld all the time. Second, even in the few instances where there is proper public oversight, that oversight does nothing to help the individual citizens often severely hurt as a result of the misconduct.

The civil justice system fills in those gaps. By allowing regular consumers to hold even the biggest companies accountable for their misconduct, our entire community is made safer. That is exactly why our founding fathers enshrined the system into our governing documents. As Latherow writes, “Without it [the civil justice system], these powerful corporations would have free reign to make and break the rules.”

All those who care about this basic system of fairness and accountability need to stand strong against those working to undermine the system. Regardless of what claims are made by those seeking tort reform, the civil justice system is filled with very few claims without merit. The truth is that most lawsuits are actually businesses suing other businesses. There is absolutely no epidemic of private citizens suing corporations. Those suits are relatively few, but they are crucial checks on the power of those who sometimes assume that they cannot be held accountable for the harm they unreasonable cause others.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Impartial Organizers Lining Up Against House Resolution 5

H.R. 5 Medical Malpractice Proposals Shot Down By Committee Testimony

May 4, 2012

Link Between Pesticides and Child Brain Injuries

It has long been known that substances that a mother is exposed to or consumes during pregnancy can have effects on the child. Many birth injuries, deformities or other irregularities can be caused by that exposure—usually in ways that mothers do not even realize. For this reason, it remains important for mothers to be vigilant about all of their activities while pregnant to ensure their unborn child is given the best chance possible to grow without problems. New information about possible risks come out frequently, and so it is important to for awareness to be raised whenever new information uncovers risks of which mother-to-be need should take note.

For example, our Chicago birth injury attorneys were interested to read about a new study linking pesticide exposure to brain injuries in utero discussed last week in Business Week. In general, the report which was just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that there were brain abnormalities in children who were expose to a commonly used insecticide in the womb.

The study involved use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in elementary school children who were found to have the highest exposure levels to chlorpyrifos. Chlorpyrifos was used in insecticides previously but it popularity has changed in recent years as the federal government has limited its use. Now the product is used in only some agricultural settings. The chemical was used previously in Dow Chemical Company’s pesticide known as Dursban.

The MRIs of the children exposed to the chemical when younger revealed that they had structural changes in the brain when compared to those who had not been exposed to the chemicals. Those affected had underdeveloped regions of the brain as was as certain parts that were essentially overgrown. Various parts of the brain were affected by those exposed to the chemical. Those parts of the brain include areas connected to language, attention, emotions, and control. In addition, hormones may be affected later on in certain children.

This represents the first research effort which used actual brain scans to show the difference in children exposed to Dursban. The effort shows that structural changes in the brain are found five to ten years after the actual exposure to the substance. The substance was banned in residential areas a decade ago. However, that does not mean that it doesn’t pose problems. Many women in certain agricultural settings are still exposed to the chemicals while they are pregnant.

As the lead researcher explained, “Prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos is risky for pregnant women and should be avoided. [A] [m]other breathes or ingest the chlorpyrifos when then enters her bloodstream. The chemical crosses the placenta and enters the infant’s blood stream.”

Each Illinois birth injury lawyer at our firm appreciates that this is a reminder to all families about the importance of being aware of exposure during pregnancy. In addition, this effort should also remind those companies and business making and marketing these products of the continued need to be very vigilant about the effects of these products on people and the environment.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Defects Linked to Various Persistent Organic Pollutants

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April 29, 2012

Understanding Vacuum Extraction Risks During Childbirth

In certain situations during childbirth a doctor will need to use special tools and techniques to ensure a child is born as soon as possible. Various fetal problems can place the health of the baby and/or mother in jeopardy which makes it imperative that a medical team act quickly to get the child out of the womb. Each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firm knows that at these times doctors often used forceps or vacuum extraction devices. When those tools fail, an emergency C-section might need to be performed. Unnecessary delay or excessive force used at these times may result in severe birth injuries and might be a sign of medical malpractice.

Of the three options mentioned above—forceps, vacuum extraction, C-section—the vacuum extraction is likely the method that is least familiar to most community members. Like regular household vacuums, the idea behind vacuum extraction devices used in childbirth is to provide suction in order to pull a child out of the birth canal. It is used in the later stages of a delivery. The process usually works by placing a plastic cup on the newborn’s head. The cup is then attached to separate vacuum extraction equipment. Expectedly, the device provides suction force which, when working properly, helps guide the child out of the mother’s body.

Unfortunately, our Illinois birth injury attorneys know that when used in incorrect ways or at certain times, a mother or child might be hurt by used of these devices. The suction occurs on the child’s head, with added pressure that can harm the baby in the process. Of course, infant bodies are incredibly vulnerable to harm from excess force. This susceptibility to head injury is made more potent during birth because it is the first time that the baby’s head does not have the protection of amniotic fluid. Brain injuries, eye injuries, skill fractures, and other harms occur far more than they should when one of these devices is used.

After a child is born via vacuum extraction, parents are well-served by keeping a close eye on their child’s development. Deficient motor skills or seizures are a sign the baby might have suffered a birth injury related to use of the special equipment. Unfortunately, cognitive injuries can occur which mean that a child may have trouble ever living on their own. It is not uncommon for children with more severe brain injuries to need close around the clock care for the rest of their lives. It goes without saying that the extreme risks from improper use of these devices makes it critical that doctors exercise reasonable skill at all times during these deliveries. The law protects families from receiving care below this standard.

The presence of these injury risks via use of vacuum extraction devices does not necessarily mean that they should never be used. As always, medical decisions should be made in conjunction with your medical experts after learning fully about the potential benefits and harms from those professionals. However, that does not mean that all harm resulting from the process is acceptable. Doctors are still charged with using the device properly and in a timely fashion. Any deviation from basic standards of care with use of these devices may very well be medical malpractice for which a patient can receive redress.

If you or a loved one has suffered a birth injury that may have been connected to use of a vacuum extraction device, please visit with an experienced legal professional to share your story and learn your rights.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Dramatic Rise in Cesarean Births

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April 21, 2012

Explaining How H.R. 5 May Unfairly Hurt Mothers & Injured Children

Each Chicago birth injury lawyer has been active in the fight against misguided tort reform legislation, because we understand how it will affect local residents. It is not an exaggeration to say that medical care providers may make more mistakes and victims will receive less redress for their losses if these bills pass. Perhaps the most damaging current proposal is House Resolution 5. H.R. 5 is a bill that passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives last month and would mandate arbitrary rules on all states in the country, including Illinois.

All legislation is a balance of the claimed benefits of the measure against any potential adverse ramifications. When that test is applied to bills like this, the scales tip overwhelming against the measure. The claimed benefits are unlikely to materialize and the harm caused by the changes would be devastating.

A recent Yahoo article provided a comprehensive overview of this bill and the effect that it would have on all sorts of medical malpractice cases, including those involving Illinois birth injuries.

There are two big problems with this sort of legislation. On one hand it represents a patently unfair attack on the basic legal rights of those hurt by the misconduct of others. The justice system is supposed to be the one place where victims of this sort of misconduct are on a level playing field with those who acted unreasonably, no matter how big or powerful the defendant. These laws change that by arbitrarily limiting the amount of compensation that the defendant has to provide, no matter what the jury who hears the evidence deems reasonable under the circumstances. The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at our firm appreciate that this infringement alone is worth defeating H.R. 5 and similar bills.

However, beyond that, there are very real patient safety concerns implicated by legislation that removes incentives for hospitals to prevent medical errors.

This is perhaps best evidenced by the research into the prevalence of medical errors over the past decade and the progress (or lack of progress) that has taken place since then. The grandfather study in this area was put out in 1999 by the Institute of Medicine. The study, “To Err is Human,” found that medical malpractice was killing more Americans annually than things like breast cancer, AIDS, or even car accidents. The report famously claimed that the number of deaths caused by preventable medical errors was equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every single day, killing everyone on board. If that happened the airline industry would obviously be in an uproar doing everything possible to fix the problem.

Yet little has been done to correct the problem in the healthcare industry. Of course, like any other industry, the healthcare industry is motive by the bottom line: profit. Laws like H.R. 5 provide even less incentive in the past for the field to make changes to promote safety and eliminate errors. Considering that patients safety efforts are often time consuming and expensive, it is unlikely that many facilities will take real action to prevent the harm unless they are forced to do so. As a result, it is not an exaggeration to say that passage of legislation like H.R. 5 may lead to more Illinois birth injuries, or, at the very least, fewer attempts to cut back on the current total number of preventable errors.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Impartial Organizers Lining Up Against House Resolution 5

H.R. 5 Medical Malpractice Proposals Shot Down By Committee Testimony

March 25, 2012

New Lawsuit Alleges Preventable Injuries During C-Section

Eastern Iowa News reported last week on a new birth injury lawsuit filed by a woman who claims that both she and her newborn son were hurt because of medical malpractice during a C-section delivery.

According to report, the problems stemmed from a traumatic birth that took place in late February of 2008. The mother arrived at a state hospital while in active labor. The labor went on for eight hours before the medical team decided that a surgical C-section birth was necessary. While in the operating room having the procedure performed, the lawsuit claims that the dome of the woman’s bladder was cut. Not only that, but her son was born with severe complications. He has a skull deformity, partial skull fracture, and suffered a subdural hemorrhage—a significant brain injury.

The mother eventually field suit explaining that the injuries should have been prevented. Besides her bladder laceration, she also claims to have developed a range of complications including a pelvic abscess, bowel obstruction, and wound separation. T he hospital in this case was affiliated with a state university which itself is run by the public at large. As a result, the lawsuit names the state as defendant, because the state is responsible for the conduct of employees at state-owned facilities.

The family claims that they are seeking recovery for both the mother and child’s injuries. The damages they are hoping to have compensated are similar to those recoverable in all birth injury cases. Specifically, the documents filed with the court explains that the family seeks recovery for the child’s physical and mental pain, loss of full body, loss of income and loss of earning capacity. In addition, they are seeking recovery for future medical expenses. Similarly, the mother is praying for damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and loss of companionship.

The overall effect that these preventable injuries have on the involved families is always hard to encapsulate in financial terms. However, the law has created a system whereby fellow community members can analyze the situation to agree upon financial sums that they deem appropriate considering what happened in each individual case. It is far from perfect, but it is the best process we have to fairly compensate those for losses that cannot be fully fixed.

Preventable injuries caused by errors made during the birthing process can happen in vaginal birth as well as during C-sections. Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm has worked with many local families who have suffered injuries similar to those outlined in this case. If you or a loved one has been hurt during pregnancy, please reach out to our attorneys to see how we can help. We understand that many families do not have all of the answers when it comes to understanding how and why their injuries occurred. Part of the work that our attorneys do is helping to ensure a full investigation into your situation is conducted to understand exactly what happened and to determine if it should have been prevented. In other words, there is nothing to lose from at least explaining what happened in your case to learn more.

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March 23, 2012

H.R. 5 Passes House and Moves to the Senate

As expected, the U.S. House of Representatives voted this week on the healthcare bill that included many so-called “tort reform” provisions. As our Illinois birth injury lawyers have often explained, the measure would have significant implications for those who suffer a birth injury caused by unreasonable conduct by their medical care provider. Medical malpractice lawsuits are the target of those who are pushing H.R. 5 and similar tort reform measures—that would include virtually all birth injury suits. Therefore, ensuring that local residents have open access to the justice system and medical providers are held accountable when they act unreasonably requires defeat of this bill.

The Thursday vote on H.R. 5, expectedly, resulted in the bill’s passage out of the chamber by a 223-181 vote. However, it is important not to focus solely on the raw vote total. As the American Association for Justice explained in an advocacy update on the bill, examined in perspective, the final vote actually brings some good news. H.R. 5 is supported by the Republican leadership, and they are often able to corral their members into supporting or opposing proposals. In this case, however, ten Republicans broke ranks with their party and voted against the measure. Another three voted “present” in a clear sign of their disproval for the bill. Also, the unity of the Democrats on this measure was the stronger than for any other civil justice bill. Only seven Democrats defected and voted in support of this bill.

The battle now moves to the Senate, where the Democrats are in control—albeit by a much slimmer margin. The AAJ explains that the strong No votes in the House will likely be an important factor in reminding Senators of the opposition to this measure. Even if the bill makes it out of the Senate, the President has already strongly indicated that he would veto the bill. In a policy statement on the measure issued this week it was reported unambiguously that, “If the President is presented with H.R. 5, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.” The letter also unequivocally voiced opposition to arbitrary caps on damages which prevent plaintiffs from receiving just compensation for injuries that they suffer.

Each birth injury attorney at our firm urges all those who understand the importance of equal access to a jury system to continue to monitor the progress of this bill. We will be sure to provide more updates as news develops on the measure’s progress in the chamber. Patient safety begins with accountability. Mothers and their new children have a right to expect reasonable care be provided to them at all times during the labor process. It is medical malpractice when they do not receive that level of care. Ensuring that future families do not face the same situation requires those medical providers to be held responsible for their conduct and incentivized to improve their care. H.R. 5, and bills like it, would do nothing more than take away that incentive. That is why they must be defeated.

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March 22, 2012

Amazing Medical Treatment Allows Girl’s Heart to be “Trained” to Grow New Part

The Wall Street Journal shared a fascinating story this week that highlights the amazing work by some of our nation’s leading medical experts to help children who are born with various defects or birth injuries. The article shared the story of one girl, now four years old, who was born with only one pumping chamber in her heart. This defect is a very serious one that can prove fatal for the child. The condition, known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, makes it difficult for children to pump sufficient levels of oxygen throughout their body. This can have serious effects on development and saps energy quickly. Without surgery the fatality rate for these children is 70% within the first year.

However medical experts from Yale University have began a unique, experimental procedure in an effort to save the girl’s life. Specifically, the doctors implanted a bioabsorbable tube in her chest that dissolves over time. This tube was seeded with various cells—including stem cells—that had been taken from the girl’s own body (her bone marrow).

So what has the tube done?

Amazingly, the cells that were on the tube (which has already dissolved) are working to grow a new blood vessel in the girl’s body. The goal is to induce regeneration, using the body’s own cells to naturally heal itself. The girl in this case used to have little stamina. However, since the surgery and tube implantation she has the energy of any other four-year old. The family’s doctors believe that she will be able to begin school next year right on time.

The girl’s doctor explains that this case “is a real milestone and broadly important for the field of tissue engineering.” The achievement was a long time coming. The girl’s doctor engaged in four years of laboratory research before even beginning the FDA approval process to test on patients. Then, it took another four years and thousands of pages of data before being given the official green light to try to surgery on a patient. The process is still experimental, however, so it is not available to the public at large.

Regenerative medicine is an exciting new area in medical that mimics self-healing mechanisms in the animal kingdom. Salamanders and starfish have long been able to re-grow lost or injured body parts. New explorations into stem cell research are slowly allowing scientists and medical researchers to harness the regenerative power of the body. What was once thought only to be possible in the womb (growth) now may be harnesses later in life.

Observers report than the potential of stem-cell developments is fueling research at many academic laboratories. Many scientists are working to figure out the most effective ways of harnessing potential regenerative power to heal damage from heart attacks, spinal cord injuries, kidney problems, and much more.

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers remain astounded by the amazing work of cutting edge medical teams that are producing regenerative medicine options. Hopefully one day these techniques will branch out far enough that many different types of birth injuries and defects, from brachial plexus injuries to cerebral palsy may be able to be fully or partial cured. All research efforts into these areas should be fully supported.

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March 20, 2012

Doctor Explains Role of OB-GYN in Reducing Toxic Chemical Effects

A story last week at HealthCanal.com delved into the results of a new study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) on the role that gynecologists and obstetricians can help reduce the harmful effects of toxic chemicals on women and children.

Our Illinois birth injury attorneys know that it is no secret that certain exposures can be harmful to pregnant women. Of course toxic exposures are harmful to everyone; the clarion call against second-hand smoke is one popular example of this recognition. The risk is perhaps heightened for pregnant women, because the developmental process for children can be sensitive. Certain exposures can ultimately lead to lifelong problems for the developing children. The new research effort out of UCSF emphasizes that the doctors involved in the care of the pregnant mothers can often do more to help eliminate the risks of these toxic exposures which may cause birth injuries.

The head researcher explained that the findings indicate that a multipronged approach to reducing the harm is the best plan. That approach would involve doctors evaluating each pregnant mother’s environmental exposure. In addition, the group suggests Ob-gyns need to do a better job of educating the expectant families on the exposures which actually do increase risk of harm. Finally, the organization is also calling on more wide-ranging government policy changes to keep more mothers free of environmental toxins.

To bolster the case for these proposed changes, the researchers noted that over the last three quarters of a century, there has been a large spike in use of both natural and synthetic chemicals. All of us are exposed to those chemicals to a far greater degree than at any time in the past. Most community members remain unaware of their extreme exposure. For example, the UCSF study found that virtually all pregnant women tested as part of the project had chemicals in their body that had been banned over 40 years ago. In other words, there is no easy way to completely rid the world of these dangerous products in the short term. Government oversight itself is not enough.

Of course, not even counting the products that are banned but still around, many dangerous chemicals are still in common use in everyday object like cooking spray and personal care products. The Chicago birth injury lawyers understand that this fact is made even more alarming considering that research continues to pour out which indicates that exposure to these chemicals can affect reproductive health and child development.

In the article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the study authors suggest, “Obstetricians, gynecologists, and other reproductive health providers can play a groundbreaking role by intervening in critical stages of human development to translate the new science into healthier future generations.”

The authors went on to explain that these medical professionals can assess each patient’s overall exposure and then provide counsel as to ways to limit the exposure. The guidance can help pregnant mothers better navigate the many potential exposure situations at home, work, and in the community.

To read the full study, please follow this link.

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March 19, 2012

Breech Birth & How it Can Lead to Preventable Birth Injuries

One of the most common signs of a problem at birth is when the infant is facing the wrong direction during delivery. Known as a “breech birth,” this occurs when the child enters the birth canal feet first instead of head first. Most children will move into “delivery position” a few weeks prior to birth. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this involves the baby’s head moving toward the birth canal. However, some children will not. The latest estimates suggest that about 3-4% of all labors involve a breech—with premature infants having a higher chance of breech presentation.

Different types of breech presentations exist.

1) Footling breech: This occurs when one or both of the child’s feet enter the birth canal and are positioned to be delivered first.

2) Complete breech: A complete breech arises when the child’s buttocks point downward with knees folded and feet neat the buttocks.

3) Frank breech: Similar to a complete breech with the buttocks closest to the birth canal but with legs pointed straight and feet near the head.

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers know that while these births present a range of unique complications and risks for the mother and child, there are protocols and tools available to ensure that the child is born healthy. Various tests can be performed to catch the breech birth, allowing the medical team time to make a decision to use different techniques to avoid a birth injury. Some of these tests are very simple, and include the doctor simply placing his or her hand on the mother’s abdomen close to the due date to get an idea of where the child’s head is located. In addition, special x-rays can be used to find about many different details about the child’s size and location in the mother’s body.

Most breech babies are born healthy, without mother or child suffering a birth injury. The two main ways to deal with a baby is breech presentation is either to work to reposition the child or deliver the baby via C-section. Of course, making the decision to do either of these things first requires the medical professional determining that the baby is in breech as early as possible.

Unfortunately, each Chicago birth injury attorney at our firm has worked with local families who have faced a range of injuries as a result of inadequate care received during breech situations. For example, umbilical cord prolapsed can occur in these cases. This arises when the umbilical cord is compressed as the infant moves through the birth canal. The cord provides crucial blood and oxygen supplies, and so when it is compressed the child may experience a range of brain problems or even death. If prolapse is suspected, the child must be delivered immediately, without any delay. In addition to prolapse, deliveries with awkward positions can lead the child’s head to be caught inside the mother. Excessive force is often used in these situations to get the child out. That force can lead to nerve or spinal cord damage. If your child has suffered any of these harms and you suspect that inadequate medical care might have played a role, you have the right to visit with a legal professional to learn about how the law might apply in your case.

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March 5, 2012

Mothers Reminded of Potential Risks of Abdominal Plastic Surgery

A story this week at Inforum provided an interesting discussion on a topic that may be useful for pregnant mothers or those who have just recently given birth. Many mothers who have battled obesity throughout their loves or have had several children may have excessive abdominal skin. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers know that many medical professionals believe that the excessive skin can be a health hazard and mothers may be healthier by having it removed. Carrying the extra tissue can cause strain on the body, even leading to breakdown and tears in the skin.

That is why some medical professionals suggest that patients have the skin removed surgically. The procedure is known as abdominoplasty. It has grown in popularity significantly over the past few years. Since 1997, the total number of procedures performed annually has tripled. Data from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery explains that the rate of increase continues.

Mothers are spurring much of the increase in abdominoplasties, because of the effect that pregnancies (particularly multiple pregnancies) can have on that part of the body. Our Illinois childbirth lawyers understand that a pregnancy stretches the tissues, skin, and muscles in the mother’s abdomen. The total effect on the body in this way depends in large part on the size of the developing child and the amount of weight the mother gains during the pregnancy. Doctors explain that some mothers have the skin shrink back into place, while for others the extra skin remains extended. The purpose of abdominoplasty is to correct the problem by retightening the stomach muscles which are spread during the weight gain of pregnancy.

These procedures can be very helpful for both medical and cosmetic purposes. However, as with all surgeries, it is incredibly important for those considering the procedure to understand the risks involved. Any time that one goes under the knife, the chance for complications exist. That is no different when it comes to abdonimoplasties. These risks make it imperative that families fully think through the necessity of these elective surgeries before deciding what the right decision is in their particular situation.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons works hard to spread accurate information about cosmetic surgery risks. When it comes to abdominoplasties, the group explains that the main risks include infection, improper healing at the incision site, blood pooling, and fluid accumulation. A big part in preventing the complications, say the experts, is maintaining a healthy weight and size in the few months prior to the surgery. In other words, the surgery may not be ideal for those who are still experiencing weight fluctuations. Researchers from the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggest a steady weight for at least three months prior to any “body countering” procedure.

Finding the right, certified, skilled doctor capable of performing these procedures safely is absolutely essential. Medical malpractice attorneys at our firm understand that the quality of care provided be different plastic surgeons can vary tremendously. It is always best to have the operation performed by a surgeon who was specifically trained in these operations, instead of those who have switched from a different type of medicine to plastic surgery without as thorough training or experience levels.

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March 2, 2012

Fetal Hypoxia During Pregnancy May “Program” Children for Heart Disease

Hypoxia is a medical term that refers to deprivation of oxygen, and it often comes into play in birth injuries. When a child is in fetal distress and that distress is not addressed in a timely fashion by medical caregivers, then serious harm can result. For example, many Illinois cerebral palsy cases involve children who have had oxygen deprived to their brain during birth. There are many far reaching consequences of this deprivation which essentially can affect all areas of the victim’s life.

However, scientists have recently uncovered yet another complication that may face victims, something that at first does seem to be connected to fetal oxygen deprivation: heart disease. As reported earlier this month in Science Mag, a new study into the overall causes of heart disease has found that one of those could include low oxygen levels in the womb. Of course this is a surprising finding, considering that most focus on heart disease involves conduct later in life regarding diet, exercise, smoking, and the like.

The story explains that when fetal hypoxia is prolonged, this has an effect on the development of the vessels within the embryo’s heart. In these situations the heart walls and aorta walls grow thicker. This in turn makes it harder for blood vessels to respond quickly which presents a challenge for proper blood flow.

Our Illinois birth injury attorneys appreciate that many questions still remain regarding exactly how this process occurs. One group of physiologists suggested that the lack of oxygen causes stress that leads to an overload of highly reactive molecules known as free radicals. They recently tested this hypothesis with four groups of pregnant rats with two groups facing hypoxia and two groups having normal pregnancies. Also two sets of groups were given vitamin C water to mimic antioxidant effects. The effects of each of these protocols what then examined in the pups that were born.

Examination of the pups showed clear differences between each group. In general, those pups without vitamin C and with induced hypoxia had hearts that were pumping considerably harder and faster at four months old compared with those in the other groups. These pups also showed signs of obstruction in the arteries—as sign of developing cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, these problems were not seen in each of the three other groups, including those who have induced hypoxia but were given vitamin C water. This suggests that the vitamin supplements may play a crucial role in helping alleviate some of these problems.

Summarizing these latest findings, the lead researcher explained, “Although a link between adverse conditions during pregnancy and cardiovascular disease in later life has been established for many years, what explains this link had remained an enigma.”

As with all research that may one day have implications for ensuring properly development and birth, the first step in creating drugs or medical care protocols to help those involved is figuring out how the problem arises in the first place. This study does that. The doctor who is known as the “father” of the fetal development field in this area has called this latest study fascinating. He notes that “these are very exciting findings that take us several steps forward. […] Now that we understand the mechanism, we are much closer to being able to intervene.”

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February 8, 2012

Advisor Arrested After Trying to Scam Cerebral Palsy Victim

Parents of children with cerebral palsy often have a range of worries running through their head virtually all the time about how to best take care of their loved one. Our Illinois cerebral palsy attorneys have worked with many families whose children have developed the cognitive condition as a result of errors made during the child’s birth. In our work with these community members we have come to appreciate that families seeking resources to help their child are doing so to ensure their health and well-being now and throughout their future.

On one hand, those with the condition often need close medical care and support virtually around the clock. As everyone knows, medical bills can pile up quickly, and so the costs often reach high amounts quite quickly. In addition, beyond medical care, those with cerebral palsy often flourish most notably when they are surrounded by a strong support team, trained to ensure they are able to learn, grow, and perfect their social skills as much as possible. Receiving proper support in these areas comes at a cost.

It is not easy to find quality caregivers that a family can trust. Trust is an essentially ingredient with it comes to aid workers for all those with special needs. A very real concern of many parents whose children have been hurt by a birth injury is the fear that those hired to help the child will take advantage of their vulnerabilities. Each Chicago injury lawyer at our firm knows that this is a very real concern, because many unscrupulous individuals use the weaknesses of others in order to benefits themselves. Families are well-heeded to keep the risks of abuse in mind when settling upon support services for loved ones who have unique vulnerabilities.

For example, FA News reported this week on a criminal case involving a financial advisor who apparently took advantage of a client who had cerebral palsy. According to the report, the advisor was recently sentenced to four years in prison for stealing more than $1 million from his client. The funds had been set aside in a trust account to support the child who suffered from cerebral palsy. Most of the money in the trust was earned after a medical malpractice settlement awarded the family $3 million to pay for the child’s expenses throughout his life. The funds were then dispersed to the mother and family on a monthly basis, depending on the child’s specific medical needs.

It seems that the family was set to receive about $6,300 per month for a range of services for the child. However, instead of dispensing that amount, the advisor only gave the parents around $1,000 a month. The rest was used for his own purposes—including buying himself a house. This shorting of the family went on for at least a nine year period. Once the financial crimes were uncovered the man was forced to pay the family restitution in an attempt to get back all of the funds that were lost due to his misdeeds.

This case is a stark reminder of the need for all families to be particularly diligent about whom they trust with professional services. This is particularly true when one is deciding upon caregiving for vulnerable family members, like those with cerebral palsy. It is vital to obtain services from one who you feel comfortable and who you believe you can trust.

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February 1, 2012

Important Not to Underestimate the Need for Birth Intervention

With all of the recent talk about the over-use of C-sections and the benefits of natural birth, our Chicago birth injury lawyers realize that it is important not to underestimate the risk of complications and the need for quick emergency medical intervention during my births. Obviously normal vaginal birth is ideal when all goes well in a pregnancy, the risks of surgery should never be borne if they can be prevented. However, at the end of the day, in many circumstances they cannot be prevented. The call for a lowering of C-section rates should be understood only in terms of those situations where it is not necessary. In many cases it is necessary. In fact, often the failure to conduct a timely C-section results in significant harm to a child. Many Illinois birth injury lawsuits that our firm handles have been based on that very notion.

An interesting new study reported in The Conversation blog yesterday suggests that many mother may actually underestimate the risk of needed intervention during their birth. The story explains that most women assume that odds are they will go through labor without needing any special intervention. However, new data suggests the opposite to be true. The authors note the “the disconnect between expectations and evidence means that new mothers may not be making informed and appropriate choices about the type of care they should get during pregnancy and where they give birth.”

Per the research, a medically uncomplicated birth was one with labor that starts naturally and does not require the use of special devices like forceps, suction cups, or necessitate C-section birth. The definition did call for use of pain relief measures like an epidural. In addition, skin tears or cuts were also not deemed to signify a complication. Expectant mothers, obstetricians, midwives, and medical students were all asked to predict the percentage of woman who would experience an uncomplicated birth, devoid of the above interventions or birth injuries.

Data using the same definitions above found that, amazingly, only one in five first time mothers would have an uncomplicated birth. A much smaller number—8%--would have a birth that also did not involve a vaginal tear or cut.

So how close were the guesses to the actual statistics?

The average guess from all participants was over 48%--more than twice the actual percentage of mothers who have an uncomplicated first time birth. The expectant mothers themselves were the most incorrect, guessing that 56% of women would not have complications. Medical students at the beginning of their training were just slightly better, estimating 53%. Medical staff members were closest to accurate at 38%, but they were still more than 17% off the actual mark.

Our birth injury attorneys were interested to read that the study’s authors speculated that the perceptions of mothers is likely caused by inaccurate data they receive from health professionals, media, and social contacts. Although others suggest that the problem is also that the intervention rates themselves are too high, unnecessarily driving up the disconnect between perception and reality.

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January 31, 2012

Hospital Publicizes Ability to Limit C-section Births

Parent Central reported this week on one hospital’s effort to cut down on C-section births. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys have written frequently on this blog about the rising concerns among some in the medical community with the increasing use of surgical births. Of course C-section births are something essential, particularly where there happens to be some complications during birth. However, the need at times for these procedures does not mean that they are always necessary. In fact, C-sections come with increased risk of certain birth injuries. That is why it is important that the rates be cut, at least when it comes to elective or optional surgical births.

The hospital profiled in this story worked hard to cut the rate, knowing that the issue was a difficult one. On one hand expectant mothers appreciate the availability of options in front of them. However, C-sections come with increased risks and a cost that is almost twice as high as that for regular vaginal births. Weighing the costs (health and financial), the hospital set a target of reducing the rate of surgical births from its current 30% rate to 25%. The hospital performs about 3,000 births a year, so reducing the level by 5% amounted to performing about 150 fewer C-sections each year.

To meet that goal the hospital considered a range of proposals. Those efforts included tightening policies for inducing childbirth for those past due and better educating patients about the benefits of vaginal births—even after having a previous C-section. After implementing the efforts the hospital reported that C-section rate was down the 5%, to their target of 25% overall. In one month the rate was down to 22%. Our Illinois birth injury attorneys know that this is a positive step which seems to involve the proper balancing of the best interests of the mother and child.

With just this one modest effort in one hospital, at least $70,000 was saved. When those benefits are multiplied in other areas, it is easy to see that significant funds can be saved while actually making patients safer and limiting preventable birth injuries.

Many advocates also believe that midwives might play an important role in getting the overall C-section rate down. Of course midwives play a growing role in natural childbirth. C-section rates among midwives are consistently lower than others. However, clients of midwives are highly motivated for natural birth, which likely skews the results. In general, midwives have C-section rates closer to 15% (as opposed to national rates which are nearing 40%). The World Health Organization actually recommends that the rate be around 15%. Of course, from a legal perspective midwives are held to the same standard of care of reasonableness which medical professionals are held. Deviation from that standard of care—if injury results—is often the basis for legal recovery. Having access to the legal system in all of these situations is critical, because the lifetime of costs from preventable birth injuries is often significant. When mistakes are made which leads to the harm, it is only logical for the one who caused the harm to play in role in ensuring the victim has access to the resources needed to recovery as much as possible.

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January 29, 2012

Ruling for Defendant in Birth Injury Lawsuit

Distorted views about Chicago medical malpractice lawsuits (and all tort injuries generally) have been traced to media accounts which promote only the cases where the plaintiff wins a large verdict. As we have discussed, while these cases do occur, they are nowhere near the norm. However, because they are the only cases that make any headlines, many community members get the mistaken assumption that plaintiffs always win and that verdicts are always particularly large.

Neither is true

For one thing, the average jury verdict is much smaller than the massive multi-million dollar decisions that often causes outrage. Some cases reach that amount, depending on the specific facts of the situation, but many do not. In addition, plaintiffs do not always win trials. After all, in any case plaintiffs have a higher burden of proof. Therefore if a jury member hears the evidence and is genuinely split 50-50 as to whether the defendant acted negligently, then they are obligated to find no liability. Contrary to what tort reformers would have you believe, trials often result in a verdict for the defendant—it simply depends on the specific of a case and the available evidence.

For example, the TC Palm News reported last week on a birth injury lawsuit that had been filed by a mother on behalf of her son. The suit alleged that the hospital which provided her care during her birth was negligent, leading to a birth injury which caused her son’s permanent disabilities. The family was seeking recover for the three-year old son, who will need close, lifelong care, because the family believes that the doctor did not adequately monitor the mother before she delivered the child via C-section. Tissues in the mother’s reproductive organs tore before the birth, which endangered the life of the child and mother.

In medical malpractice cases (and all tort cases), forseeability is an important concept in determining whether or not a professional was actually negligent. If a certain outcome was simply not forseeable, then the involved actions are unlikely to be deemed negligent. The main issue in the case was whether the tear in the mother’s tissue was foreseeable. As is often the case in these cases, experts testified explaining both sides of the situation. Both sides were then able to question the other side’s expert so that jury members could see if there were any inconsistencies or weakness in the information provided. From there they were able to ultimately decide whose version they found more credible. In this particular case the jury ruled that the tear in the tissue was unforeseeable, or at least that unforeseeable beyond a preponderance of the evidence. Either assessment required no liability finding.

When it comes to trial practice, having an experienced attorney can make all the difference. The evidence cannot be changed, but it is still very important that the available evidence is presented to a jury in the most appropriate and clear manner. Failure in this regard often means that cases are lost which otherwise should have provided justice for a victimized family. If you are going through the process of deciding upon an attorney to take your case, be sure to examine the legal team’s past records and experience levels to ensure that you will be putting your best foot forward from the start.

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January 28, 2012

Progress Made on Slowing Early Elective Deliveries

Over the past few weeks our Chicago birth injury lawyers have frequently discussed the concerns raised by medical experts and other advocates regarding the rise in early elective deliveries and C-section births. This week the Wall Street Journal’s “Health Blog” also touched on the topic. The WSJ post explored a bit of good news, noting that there has been some progress in the quest to slow down the seemingly non-stop increase in elective deliveries.

The slight reduction in these births, experts claim, can be attributed to an awareness campaign that is working to share information about the risks of alternatives to natural birth. The goal is that all expectant mothers will learn about the value that a few extra weeks of gestation has on the health of a newborn. Sometime a child needs to be born before 39 weeks gestation for medical reasons. However, when there is no clear medical necessity, electing to birth the child early usually has more risks than potential benefits. The health consequences are the most important, but financial issues are also at play. Early elective births are more expensive than other options, and with no need for the early election it is difficult to justify the expense.

A new report from The Leapfrog Group suggests that early induced labor and C-section rates are dropping—but only very slowly. However, even avoiding an increase in these rates should likely be viewed as a positive step. According to the report, which examined data from over 750 hospitals nationwide, 39% of hospitals met their target reduction plan in early births. The target was to reduce early elective deliveries to 5% of total deliveries. The fact that roughly 4 out of 10 participating hospitals were able to do that is encouraging. That is especially true because the average rate from the year before was 30% of all birth. Even those that didn’t’ quite meet the target saw some improvement with 65% of all hospitals showing decreases in 2011 from 2010. It remains unclear whether there was anything about the participating hospitals that are different from hospitals nationwide.

In the past many OBs have made the mistake of sacrificing child development in the 37th to 39th weeks of pregnancy in exchange for having more control over the delivery time. In the end, this is a mistake that may lead to increases in overall birth injury rates. It is also a mistake for doctors to pressure woman into having an induction. As the executive director of Childbirth Connection explained, there is “no reliable national data [showing] that woman’s demands [are] driving” the increase in induction rates.

Our birth injury lawyers understand that at the end of the day the absolute best delivers are those that occur naturally without early election or surgery. Medical technology advances which allow alternatives are fantastic for those mothers who for various reasons may have too many risks with natural birth. However, the benefits of these techniques for some does not mean that they are worthwhile for all. In fact, just the opposite is often true. C-sections and early elections can increase risks of either the child or mother suffering a birth injury. All local families are advised to be fully aware of this when working with their doctor to chart the best course of conduct for their pregnancy and delivery.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Dramatic Rise in Cesarean Births

Report Finds Recent Rise in C-Section Births

January 20, 2012

New Study Finds Pre-Birth Neurological Activity Affects Brain Development

It seems that every day bring new information about birth injuries—preventing them, treating them, and everything in between. For example, just this week the Yale Daily News discussed a new effort at the university which uncovered more information about how and when neural circuits between the brain and the eyes are created in a developing child.

Specifically, as reported in last month’s Nature Neuroscience, a research team has found that activity inside the womb actually affects the development of the neural wiring between the eyes of brain of the fetus. Essentially, using newborn mice, scientists discovered that even the closed eyes of an unborn can produce message which are then sent to the brain to help ensure that the wiring system between the eyes and brain develop properly.

This is big news, because while this sort of early development was previously speculated, it is the first time that researchers had been able to actually manipulate the temporal patterns of eyes in vivo and analyzed the brain wiring effect. Previously medical professionals assumed that the child was born, exposed to the environment, and then that exposure influenced the neural activity in the brain. But now we know that it occurs earlier. Scientists believe this may ultimately prove to have implications for preventing problems like autism, which may be caused by “miswiring” in the brain.

In addition, the development process is thought to be similar for other parts of neural circuit, including the spinal cord. What this means is that activity within the womb actually affects more parts of the child’ brain development than previously thought.

Our Chicago birth injury attorney follows all of these developments in research because down the road they may influence birth injury lawsuits in a variety of ways. Here are two…

1) The more we know about how injuries develop and what can be done to prevent them, the standard of what constitutes “reasonable” behavior by medical professionals changes. Most birth injury lawsuits are essentially medical malpractice lawsuits where negligence is alleged. The victims are seeking redress because a medical professional who owed them a reasonable duty of care breached that duty and caused harm. When trying to prove what constitutes a “reasonable” care, lawyers are forced to show what other doctors would have done in the same situation based on commonly understood medical knowledge and practices. Those practice and that knowledge changes as new advance in medicine are made. Consequently the arguments about whether a breach did or did not occur are also altered.

2) In addition, besides allowing medical professionals to prevent injuries in more situations, advances in medicine also lead to better treatment options for victims. In this way the research may play a role in what damages are asked for and awarded following one of these cases. How much a victim receives in a case is influenced, in part, by the costs associated with their long term care and the permanent harm that the injury has caused them. Both of those things can be affected by improved treatments options for victims. Injuries that were previously permanent may no longer be permanent. Also, families may also want resources so that they can pursue treatment option that were previously unavailable.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Simple Heart Defect Screenings May Save Infant Lives

New Research Gives Hope to Those Seeking Cerebral Palsy Prevention

January 14, 2012

Medical Malpractice & Birth Injuries

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

January 7, 2012

Class Action Lawsuit Against EPA on Behalf of Those Living Near Freeways

Class-action lawsuits are not uncommon in the birth injury context. When our Chicago injury lawyer refers to birth injuries we include a wide range of harms that befall the youngest members of our society (and their mothers). Most of our involvement in these cases stems from medical providers who fail to respond properly to traumatic births. However many birth injury lawsuits involved wildly different circumstances, including those that have nothing to do with a hospital or medical teams. Negligence law is flexible in that any party may potentially be liable for harm that they cause to others, including unborn children.

Many of the cases not involving problems during a delivery are class-action lawsuits. Class action suits are those filed on behalf of a class of people—not just one person. They allege that the actions of the defendant hurt all of those in the class in substantially similar ways. Class action lawsuits are efficiency tools that allow mass wrongs to be handled in a streamlined way. When birth injuries are involved, the lawsuits generally refer to instances of a defendant who engages in certain conduct that increases the risk of harm to unborn children.

Most class action birth injury lawsuits involve one of two issues: unsafe medication or environmental pollution. Many drug companies have been sued after evidence was uncovered that use by pregnant women led to certain problems which the company knew about, should have known about, or should have properly warned about. Environmental class action lawsuits also can have birth injury components, because when young children or pregnant women are exposed to the unsafe pollutants, significant harm can result.

Environmental News actually reported this week on a new pollution-related class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 1.2 million residents living near Southern California freeways. Part of the harm alleged in the complaint which initiated the suit was the effect on unborn children in the area. The plaintiffs noted that children were more likely to be born with low birth weight and suffering from asthma as a result of the pollution in the area.

The lawsuit was filed by Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Communities for a Better Environment. At the heart of the matter are allegations that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to even conduct basic monitoring operations to determine that amount of pollution coming from L.A.’s heavily trafficked roadways. The suit was filed on behalf of all those who lived within 300 yards of a freeway in the area. According to the suit, the EPA violated federal law by allowing the local air quality management district to ignore high pollution levels. Local residents have suffered as a result.

Our Chicago birth injury lawyers are proud to represent victims of all forms of harm caused by the inappropriate actions of others. If you or a loved one has been hurt because a doctor or other third party did something that caused birth complications, then consider visiting a legal professional to learn about your options. It is important that the young victims in these situations have access to the resources they need to recover from their injuries as much as possible.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Injury Lawsuit Against Midwife Settles for $730,000

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed After Pregnancy Complications Leads to Deadly Blood Infection

January 3, 2012

State Grapples with New Birth Center Rules for Midwives—Including Posting of Medical Liability Insurance

Most Illinois birth injury lawsuits are filed against doctors, nurses, and medical facilities that make errors during traumatic births in a hospital. However, not all women give birth in traditional hospital settings. A growing minority of families decide to forgo the modern approach and have natural births performed via the use of a midwife. While some legal issues may be somewhat different depending on the agreements made between the patient and midwife, a birth injury lawsuit may still be appropriate when things go wrong following one of these natural births. Obviously the risks are just as potent when a birth takes places in one of these birth centers where midwifes aid in the delivery. In fact, certain risks are often increased because of the decision to forgo more modern medical techniques.

Recognizing the risks of these natural births, state regulators often set up clear rules that must be followed by birth centers—locations where midwives help mothers in low-risk pregnancies give birth. Our Illinois birth injury lawyers know that there is often strong disagreement about the level of regulation that should be placed on these locations. There is a balancing act that must be performed between protecting mothers and not being too restrictive such that operating the centers becomes impossible.

The Argus Leader reported last week on efforts in one state to allow birth centers and out of hospitals births for the first time. These centers are growing in popularity nationwide. There has been a 30% increase in the total birth centers created in the last decade and a half, now totaling nearly 180. According to the story, the state’s legislative committee recently ordered the department of health to rework rules so that they were less restrictive. Midwifery proponents were heralding the move as a positive step in allowing more women to have out-of-hospital births if they so chose.

When the initial regulations were proposed by the state health department, industry insiders reported dissatisfaction. There were complaints that the rules were overly restrictive such that it would have been prohibitive for a midwife to actually go out and start a birthing center. For example, the regulations required that these centers post if they had medical liability insurance, prohibit outside food being brought in for mothers, and enacted complex requirement to define what constituted a “low risk” pregnancy.

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers were surprised to learn that the requirement of publically posting information about medical malpractice liability insurance was the most contentious issue. Those opposed to the requirement claimed that the posting would be a red target on the backs of the centers encouraging former clients to sue them. Of course, this ignores the fact that consumers have a clear interest in being made aware of the possessions or lack of possession of medical liability insurance. Considering that risks may be increased in these centers, it is logical for patients to consider the insurance when deciding where to give birth. Part of the problem is that other medical facilities do not have the same requirement, and so some midwife advocates have suggested that the requirement is an underhanded tactic to make it increasingly hard to open a birthing center.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

$4 Million Birth Injury Jury Verdict After Serious Midwife Error

Birth Injury Lawsuit Against Midwife Settles for $730,000

December 21, 2011

Child Deaths Decrease Overall, But Birth Injuries Remain The Leading Cause

The Salisbury Post wrote last week on a new task force report which found that child death rates continued to decline last year, reaching the lowest level on record. Of course this is encouraging news that signals important advances in a wide range of child safety efforts. However, there is clearly still more work to be done, because children still die (and are severely hurt) in a wide range of ways from birth injuries to car crashes and home accidents.

According to the story gathered by the state’s Center for Health Statistics and the Child Fatality Prevention Team Research Staff, the current death rates of children from birth through 17 years old is 58 per 100,000. A year ago that number was 67 per 100,000 children. The decline was found in a range of individual areas from increased car safety measures, decreased suicide, and lower infant mortality rates. The significance of the achievement should not be underestimated, as hundreds of thousands of more children are alive today than would otherwise be the case if rates had not declined over the last several decades. Experts point to a range of public policy changes and strategic investments which prioritized child safety. Those changes include ensuring better automobile safety and preserving the accountability incentives of a birth injury lawsuit to ensure proper medical care is maximized in the crucial moments following an infant’s birth.

Of particular important to our Chicago birth injury lawyers, the latest data reported a large decline in the infant mortality rates. The drop off was seen almost exclusively in the African American community. However, almost half of all child deaths are still caused by birth defects and other birth-related conditions. These include defects that arise early on in a child’s development and that are beyond our current medical knowledge to prevent or cure. However, an unknown total of those deaths are attributable to problems during the birth itself that could have been prevented. Most often, these preventable birth injury deaths are caused by unexpected complications that occur during the birth with medical professionals failing to respond appropriately. Differentiating between birth injury deaths that could have been prevented if proper care were provided versus those that were completely accidental is sometimes difficult. The civil justice system is intended as the ideal system by which those differences can be debated and a resolution reached. In other words, the American justice system puts its faith in the trial by jury approach to these affairs, where truth comes out when both sides are allowed to present evidence openly and fairly in a structured format with impartial jurors reaching an ultimate consensus.

Outside of birth injury deaths, the most common cause of accidental death was in car accidents. Even in car accidents, children under the age of one constituted the single largest group. Nearly two thirds of all child car accident deaths were among that group. Suicides declined considerably from an abnormally high level in 2009. Other types of deaths seemed to remain constant. A few expected trends existed, such as the fact that urban children were more likely to die in fires, while rural children more often fell victim to accidental drowning.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Family of Injured Boy Seeks Approval of $30M Award in Birth Injury Lawsuit

Doctor’s Failure to Treat Jaundice Causes Baby to Suffer Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

December 6, 2011

Two Levin & Perconti Blogs Advance in Top Tort Law Blog Contest – Need Your Vote!

The latest results of Lexis Nexis’s Top 25 Tort Blogs of 2011 were recently announced. Our entire team was honored to learn that two of our blogs—Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog and Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog were included in the list as one of the top 25 tort blogs in the country. The selection was made thanks to nominations from readers. All of us at Levin & Perconti were proud of the honor, as we work hard to ensure that our blogs provide timely, informative, and helpful information to our legal colleague and the entire community.

However, the contest is still not over. There is still one more round left, and we need your support.

The contest is continuing for the next four days to narrow down the current list of 25 to THE top tort blog of the year. Unlike the nomination round, this time they are not taking votes by comments. Instead, an actual online poll has been created where you can select one winner out of the final list. You may have to “log in” to vote, BUT you are able to do that using your Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, or Twitter account.

The voting ends at Midnight Eastern Time on Friday, December 9th. Please take a second to click this link, and Vote for the Illinois Injury Blog or Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog.

Thanks so much for your continued support.

December 5, 2011

Chicago Birth Injury Lawsuit Ends in $7.5 Million Settlement

The News-Gazette reported recently on the end of a Chicago birth injury case which had been filed by the guardians of a girl who, it was claimed, developed cerebral palsy as a result of problematic care during her birth. According to court filings, the young girl was born in 2002 at the Christ Medical Center. She underwent a traumatic birth, and ultimately was born with significant injuries.

In this Illinois birth injury lawsuit—just like many others—the young girl developed signs of fetal distress during the birthing process. Caregivers monitor certain aspects of the fetus’s health during the birth so that they can be aware if anything is wrong—such as lack of oxygen to the brain or a stopped heartbeat. Then, the medical professionals are able to respond quickly with emergency measures if necessary to prevent the problem from continuing and causing long-term injuries to the child. Those emergency procedures may include use of special equipment or calling for a C-section birth.

This suit claimed that caregivers did not act fast enough when they were made aware of signs of fetal distress. In many more cases than not a caregiver will do whatever is necessary to quickly and properly do everything to account for the fetal distress. However, there are certain cases where medical providers fail to act properly. In those cases, the consequence to the child with prolonged oxygen deprivation or lack of blood flow to the brain can be severe. That is what seemingly happened in this case.

The girl here was deprived of oxygen for a considerable length of time. That oxygen deprivation had long-term consequences for the girl who otherwise would have been born without major health problems. Doctors soon discovered that the oxygen deprivation led to severe and permanent brain damage. By the time she was a year old she was officially diagnosed with cerebral palsy. These birth injuries can be particularly severe, and the victim in this case will require close, around-the-clock care for the rest of her life. Her family reports that they are working hard on her mental development, but they understand that she will face unique challenges throughout her life. Her physical limitations are similarly severe.

A few years after the girl’s birth, her grandparents became official guardians of the child. They then sought legal advice and proceeded with this birth injury lawsuit. After the case proceeded and evidence was collected, the hospital involved decided that working out a settlement was likely in the best interests of both parties. Recently a $7.5 million agreement was reached, and it is now waiting on judicial approval. The doctors involved in the situation that were also named in the suit were not part of that settlement.

The award will hopefully allow the family to have the peace of mind of knowing that their loved one will have access to the resources necessary now and in the future. Many parents, and in this case grandparents, are understandably worried about what will happen to their child’s care once they are no longer around. When wrongdoers are required to pay for the consequences of these actions, those families are comforted with the knowledge that the children in question will be taken care of for their entire lives, even considering the substantial aid that they will need for decades to come.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Family Awarded $4.5 Million Following Birth Injury Lawsuit

Family Receives $1.5M Settlement for Birth Injury/Wrongful Death Lawsuit

November 28, 2011

Toll-Like Receptors Linked to Brain Injuries in Newborns

Last week Medical News reported on new research conducted by birth injury researchers that shed further light on how brain injuries develop in young infants. As our Chicago birth injury lawyers have frequently described on this blog, there remains a lot of mystery around certain parts of the child development process. That lack of understanding at times makes it difficult for medical providers to prevent certain defects from arising. The more information that is obtained about the development process—and the injury risks—the better off all community members will be.

This latest research was conducted by Swedish researchers at the University of Gothenburg and examined mechanisms related to brain injuries in infants. Roughly two out of every one thousand births result in a brain injury to the young child. The research is being heralded as an important step that identifies the mechanisms involved in infant brain injuries which ultimately may lead to better treatment for the young victims. Blood infections and reduced blood and oxygen supplies are a common cause of the harm, as they can lead to brain inflammation. Premature infants are particularly prone to the harm, which can ultimately result in a wide range of problems, from cerebral palsy and epilepsy to learning difficulties.

The latest development suggests that “toll-like receptors” (TLRs) in the young brain in the innate immune system play a crucial role in brain development. TLRs are a class of proteins which are single, non-catalytic receptors that recognize certain molecules derived from microbes. TLRs are a growing research area, with pioneers in the area recently winning a Nobel Prize in Physiology. They have previously been found to be involved in stroke-related brain adult brain damage. This latest research expands on the knowledge and has found that TLRs are also crucial in immature brains.

In this latest research into infant brain injuries, the researchers used mice to simulate newborn brain injuries. We have previously posted on the use of mice in different context as a stand-in when studying infant injuries. Researchers in this case, found that TLRs are crucial to the damage that results from hypoxia—or lack of oxygen to the brain. The lead researcher explained that “an infection can activate these receptors, making the brain more sensitive to hypoxia, resulting in worse brain damage.” Therefore, it would seem that blocking these signals would go a long way to reducing the brain damage. Currently, medical professionals can do little to stop the harm the results from this oxygen deprivation. Hopefully further research in this area will change all of that. That is why it is so crucial for medical professionals not to allow the oxygen deprivation to occur in the first place.

The research which identified the role that TLRs play in infant brain injuries also included examination of the role of a protein known as occludin. The protein plays a role in the ‘gluing’ of cells together in the blood-brain barrier. The researchers found that following a brain infection there is a reduction in occludin levels. Therefore, the blood brain barrier is weaker, potentially resulting in an opening in the barrier. That opening may make it easier for inflammatory molecules to enter the brain and cause dangerous inflammation.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Accident Lawsuit Reveals Extreme Emotional Pain Associated with Loss

Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed After Child Born with Cerebral Palsy

November 17, 2011

Breech Delivery Births Rarely Taught in Medical Schools

As we discussed yesterday, advocates on all sides of the issue have recently expressed concerns about the rate of Cesarean section births nationwide. On one hand, in certain emergency situations, a C-section may be necessary to prevent a birth injury. Our Illinois birth injury attorneys have worked on many cases where medical professionals did not adequately respond to birth problems, usually resulting in oxygen deprivation and permanent problems for the child. In many of those cases the failure to perform a C-section was an important factor in the case.

Yet, the fact that C-sections are needed in certain situations does not equate to C-section birth being necessary (or advisable) in all births. Many observers remain concerned, therefore, that the percentage of C-section birth continues to rise. An article in yesterday’s “The Stir” made the point that these births may soon account for over 50% of all births—a state that almost everyone agrees is far too high. Twelve years ago many medical professionals set the goal of getting the C-section rate down to 15 percent. Instead, the trend has gone the opposite direction. As one observer noted, “it doesn’t take an anthropologist to know that something is wrong here—our birth do not have that many complications to make that high number necessary.”

Of course, as is the trend in some circles, some point the finger at medical malpractice lawyers and claim that fear of lawsuits leads to poor medical action. We strongly believe that there is a clear difference between performing a C-section to save a child’s life and having nearly1 in 2 mothers go through an intrusive surgical procedure for fear of lawsuits. It is unfair and illogical to blame the previous victims of medical malpractice for the misconduct of doctors today. Instead, as was noted in the article, many other factors should be considered. For example, many hospitals have blanket bans on vaginal births after C-sections (VBACs). Also, some are concerned that doctors and hospitals are paid more for C-section births than vaginal births which may skew the decisions.

Additionally, a growing chorus of observers blame that the fact that breech births are not even taught in medical school any longer. Obstetrics and Gynecology medical schools never learn how to perform a breech vaginal birth, even though in many cases they may be safer than C-sections births. In fact, some OB students admit that throughout their entire training they never once saw an actual intervention-free birth.
In any event, virtually everyone agrees that the risks of C-section surgery should not be underestimated. The procedure is a seriously invasive operation that should not be taken for granted. All mothers need to be made aware of the clear risks of the procedure, and told about options beyond C-sections, particularly when the procedure is not needed. There are many instances of possible healthy births that snowball into a myriad of problems because of surgical complications. If the procedure isn’t necessary, it shouldn’t be performed. At the end of the day, whatever is less risky for the mother and child should always predominate.

In Other News: Two of our companion blogs--The Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog and Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog--were nominated for inclusion as one of the Top 25 Tort Blogs of 2011. The award is part of the LexisNexis project which seeks to feature blogs that set the standard in certain practice areas and industries. The voting to narrow down the field is currently underway, and we would love to have your vote. All you have to do is add a comment at the end of the post about the Top 25 bogs.

Please Follow This Link To Vote: Vote for Our Blog. Thanks for your support!

See Our Related Blog Posts:

World’s Largest Study Underway on the Fear of Childbirth

Mothers and Children at Risk in Early Cesarean Sections

November 12, 2011

The Safest Birth Defect Screenings May Be Maternal Blood Test

In most individual cases, the civil justice system can only react to problems that come up, and it rarely is used to prevent specific harms. Our Chicago birth defect lawyers work with clients who have already suffered harm and are simply using the legal system to hold wrongdoers accountable and seek redress so that their child will have access to the resources they need to live as well as possible in spite of their situation. Of course, an underlying theme in these cases is also a hope that the accountability will encourage others in the same situation to ensure that proper care is provided at all times to prevent the problem.

At the end of the day, all families whose new child suffered a birth defect because of medical negligence would give back their entire legal award if only they were able to go back in time and prevent the harm. Prevention forever remains the main goal of birth injury advocacy efforts. That is why our Chicago injury lawyers closely follow medical development related to testing and other prevention issues which can identify problems well before they arise.

For example, the USA Today reported this week that a team of scientists has recently conducted research for the first time which used a noninvasive blood test to screen for a rare fetal abnormality. Specifically, the researchers were looking for a chromosomal irregularity called “fetal microdeletion syndrome.” The researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center claim that they were able to detect the irregularity in the unborn child via a DNA analysis on a blood sample from the prospective mother.

This is an important step, because currently mothers who suspect that their child may have the irregularity are forced to undergo a much more invasive diagnostic technique, like amniocentesis. Besides being much less desirable for comfort reasons for the mother, these more invasive tests also present a risk to the health of the fetus. Therefore, this potential new option has multiple benefits. One involved researcher summarized the development by noting that “the most compelling point is that we have been able to illustrate a proof of concept. We have shown that you can identify these sorts of abnormalities without having to collect a physical sample from the baby or the placenta.”

Researchers continue to work on similar studies in relation to other developmental birth defects. For example, maternal blood tests are also being developed to identify potential fetal abnormalities like Down’s syndrome and spina bifida. All told, according to the March of Dimes, roughly one out of every one hundred and fifty children are born with some chromosomal abnormality. They can develop during sperm or egg growth and both before and after conception. In many cases these problems result in significant mental and physical defects for the child. Right now the invasive amniocentesis is the only way to test for these situations. Yet if the blood test is proven as accurate, then it will undoubtedly become much more common as it is noninvasive, cheaper, and less risky.

In Other News: Two of our companion blogs--The Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog and Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog--were nominated for inclusion as one of the Top 25 Tort Blogs of 2011. The award is part of the LexisNexis project which seeks to feature blogs that set the standard in certain practice areas and industries. The voting to narrow down the field is currently underway, and we would love to have your vote. All you have to do is add a comment at the end of the post about the Top 25 bogs.

Please Follow This Link To Vote: Vote for Our Blog. Thanks for your support!

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Birth Injuries Often Have Lifelong Consequences

November 10, 2011

Concerns Raised About Antidepressant Connection to Child Autism

According to a new story from Focus News, observers are again issuing warnings to women everywhere about the dangerous effect that certain medications may have on the development of their children. As our Chicago birth injury attorneys have frequently shared, antidepressants have been the particular focus of many who have concerns about the effect that the drugs might have when taken by pregnant women. Specifically, studies have already shown that the problem may lead to heart defects in babies, and now some are speculating that the drugs may also increase the risk of children suffering from autism.

Historically, a string of birth injuries have long been linked to the taking of certain medications during pregnancy. Many heart and lung problems are caused by prescription drugs that enter the mother’s bloodstream and affect the child. However, new evidence continues to come out suggesting drugs that are still used by pregnant woman today may actually pose dangerously high risks of causing complications. Antidepressants are the latest targets.

Since 2005 studies have shown that use of certain antidepressants during childbirth leads to birthing problems. For one thing, heart problems are more prevalent in children born to mothers who have taken selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These include popular drugs like Zoloft and Paxil. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually issued a Public Health Advisory on that very topic more than six years ago. The warning was made following the publication of a variety of studies which found that a mother’s exposure to these drugs, particularly in the first and third trimesters, may lead to atrial and ventricular septal heart defects. These are developmental problems caused by problems with the development of the heart wall.

It wasn’t long after the SSRI advisory was issued discussing heart problems that another warning was made pertaining to antidepressant drug use. This time researchers had found that the drug use led to significant increase in a child developing a condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension. Only this summer even more troubling research was published. An Archives of General Psychiatry article found a link between SSRI use and the development of autism spectrum disorder. Specifically, the researchers found that the autism risk doubled when the mother had taken antidepressant in the previous twelve months.

Whenever a child is born with abnormalities or ailments, parents begin wondering what caused their child’s problems. Our Chicago injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti know that in many cases, when the root causes of the problems are properly investigated, the misconduct of others is at least a partial cause. Occasionally it is caused by a medical team that improperly responded to an emergency birth or fails to notice signs of fetal distress. At other times the problem could be rooted in actions in the pregnancy itself, such as a mother being given drugs that involved parties (the drugs companies or doctors) should have know presented dangerous risks. If you suspect that a root cause of your own child’s problems is related to others’ misconduct, give our Chicago birth injury lawyer to learn how we can help.

In Other News: Two of our companion blogs--The Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog and Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog--were nominated for inclusion as one of the Top 25 Tort Blogs of 2011. The award is part of the LexisNexis project which seeks to feature blogs that set the standard in certain practice areas and industries. The voting to narrow down the field is currently underway, and we would love to have your vote. All you have to do is add a comment at the end of the post about the Top 25 bogs.

Please Follow This Link To Vote: Vote for Our Blog. Thanks for your support!

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Taking Diflucan During Pregnancy Linked to Birth Injuries

Doctors Must Pay Close Attention to Medication Given to Expectant Mothers

November 9, 2011

Nearly One Out of Three Hysterectomies are Unnecessary

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers know that beyond harm to children from inadequate medical care, the mothers involved can often suffer serious injury. Trouble in childbirth or during pregnancy can have long-lasting effects on the life of the mother. For example, after certain problems arise, a mother maybe advised that she should have a hysterectomy. The surgical procedure involves the removal of a woman’s uterus. This is the location where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant. Therefore, after a hysterectomy a woman is no longer capable of having children.

It goes without saying that these procedures have serious implications for the woman involved—as well as their entire family. All patients who are advised that they need these procedures should have the comfort of knowing that the procedure is the only option available to prevent certain permanent complications. Taking away a woman’s ability to have future children is a very real loss and should only be undertaken in the most serious of circumstances. Yet, as reported in The Expert Review, many observers have raised serious concerns about a rash of unnecessary hysterectomies. In fact of the nearly 600,000 hysterectomies that are performed every year, some speculate that as many as 200,000 of them may not be needed.

What most patients do not know is that these procedures are quite profitable for the involved professionals. The Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services (HERS) Foundation reports that doctors and drug companies make more than $17 billion every year from these surgical procedures. HERS explains that a staggering 98% of the women who contact their office eventually learn after consultation with a board certified gynecologist that the procedure is not necessary in their case. Of course, besides loosing the ability to have children, these operations also have other complications which should be avoided if possible. For one thing, a long, often painful recovery from major abdominal surgery is never a welcome prospect. Other symptoms include personality changes, short-term memory loss, sexual problems, chest pain, and a slightly increased cardiovascular risk.

It is important to remember that with all medical procedures, consent is needed before medical professionals can proceed. Otherwise, the medical professional is committing battery. Consent not only requires that a patient (or their representative) actually agree but also that they be properly informed of the risks and alternatives before making their decision. Yet, there are concerns that many women do not give informed consent before these procedures are performed—a serious violation of the civil law and medical standards which must never go without redress.

Our Chicago birth injury lawyers continue to urge all patients to take an active role in the care that they receive at medical centers. While hysterectomies may be necessary for the health of the mother, it is important that unnecessary procedures not be performed. If you suspect that you did not need the surgical operation or do not believe that you gave informed consent before agreeing to the operation, please get in touch with our Chicago injury lawyers to share your story and learn how we might be able to help.

In Other News: Two of our companion blogs--The Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog and Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog--were nominated for inclusion as one of the Top 25 Tort Blogs of 2011. The award is part of the LexisNexis project which seeks to feature blogs that set the standard in certain practice areas and industries. The voting to narrow down the field is currently underway, and we would love to have your vote. All you have to do is add a comment at the end of the post about the Top 25 bogs.

Please Follow This Link To Vote: Vote for Our Blog. Thanks for your support!

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Birth Injury Lawsuit Against Midwife Settles for $730,000

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed After Pregnancy Complications Leads to Deadly Blood Infection

November 3, 2011

New Birth Injury Lawsuits Filed Connected to Thalidomide Exposure

One unique aspect of many birth injury lawsuits is the length of time that often exists between the harm and the ultimate recovery. In a typical Illinois personal injury case, the individual is injured, the one responsible for the harm is known immediately, and a suit progresses to ensure the victim has the proper resources necessary to recover. However, in birth injury cases, the specific cause of the problem is often not known for years—or decades—down the road. This presents legal complexities.

For example, an editorial in the Seattle Personal Inquirer on a new birth defect lawsuit illustrates this problem well. Over the years, it has come out that certain drug manufacturing companies knew of risks that their products presented to unborn children. When expectant mothers or those who were working to get pregnant took these medications, the risk of the child suffering from a birth defect rose considerably. One of the most prominent was thalidomide—a drug widely used in the late 1950s and early 1960s to ease morning sickness of pregnant women. The drug was ultimately discovered to cause serious birth defects; many children died or were deformed as a result of their mother being prescribed the drug.

It was assumed by most that the problem was isolated mostly to Europe, because thalidomide was rarely used in the United States. In fact, for the last fifty years this assumption has held—most assume American children were not affected by the problem. Yet, newly uncovered evidence suggests that assumption may be incorrect. Some experts are now suggesting that there may have been many thalidomide victims in the United States.

A recent birth injury lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a few victims born decades ago after their parents in the U.S. were given the dangerous drug. Those working on the case have uncovered information that shows that the German company which developed the drug, created a distribution agreement for the drug in 1959. The American company which was part of the agreement then began conducting human trials, including trials on pregnant women. They did this while conceding that they had no access to human clinical safety data.

The company eventually expanded their effort to make and sell the drug in the US. They renamed it Kevadon, and began a “Kevadon Hospital Program” to continue using the drug in an ultimate effort to spur wide sales across the country. All told, more than 2.5 million doses of the drug were given to up to 20,000 patients. By late 1961 German doctors began suspecting the drug was causing a rash of defects. Thalidomide was soon pulled from German shelves. However, its maker continued to claim that it was safe, and efforts in the U.S. continued unabated. Many more patients received the drug even after its dangers were clear.

It was only several months later that the trials stopped and the American company scraped efforts to sell the dangerous drug. Later, when the significant number of defects were made wide knowledge, American drug manufacturers tried to reassure residents by claiming that the drug was never sold in the U.S. Of course, this ignored the fact that more than 1.5 million doses had in fact been distributed to 20,000 patients by at least 1,200 different doctors across the country. Many of those prescribed the drugs ultimately had children with defects.

In Other News: Two of our companion blogs--The Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog and Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog--were nominated for inclusion as one of the Top 25 Tort Blogs of 2011. The award is part of the LexisNexis project which seeks to feature blogs that set the standard in certain practice areas and industries. The voting to narrow down the field is currently underway, and we would love to have your vote. All you have to do is add a comment at the end of the post about the Top 25 bogs.

Please Follow This Link To Vote: Vote for Our Blog. Thanks for your support!

See Our Related Blog Posts:

The Connection Between Birth Defects and Antidepressants

Paxil Related Birth Injury Claims May Still Be Filed

October 30, 2011

New AAJ Report Explores Hypocrisy of Tort Reform Proponents

Most Illinois birth injury cases are rooted in the law of medical negligence. That is because, as one would expect, when a birth injury lawsuit is filed, it is because the victim believes that their child’s harm was caused by medical mistakes. The errors could occur in a variety of ways, from failing to perform a timely C-section to applying too much force when extracting the child. In all cases, however, the failure of the doctor to perform in a way that other reasonable doctors would is at the heart of the suit.

However victims in those exact cases are the ones for whom many “tort reformers” are working to take away basic legal rights. Medical malpractices lawsuits are the main focus of reform efforts, though many of the biggest corporate proponents are also seeking to take away victims’ rights in a variety of other contexts. It is safe to say that many large companies would have little problem completely insulating themselves from the potential ramifications of their own misconduct. For example, Illinois nursing home abuse victims are at risk of losing their ability to hold negligent long-term care facilities accountable, if changes are made at the federal level to enact a bill known as House Resolution 5. The legislation would force all states to enact a wide range of draconian measures that do nothing more than take away the ability of everyday citizens to file suits against large corporations that cause them harm. It is in many ways an immense abuse of power that must be fought against.

The nature of these advocacy efforts are disturbing. Even more disturbing is the hypocrisy underlying many of these arguments made by powerful corporate interests. At the core of this is an attempt by these interests to maximize their bottom line—not a principled effort to enact legal changes. As a new American Association of Justice report reveals, there is an immense level of hypocrisy behind the efforts of many involved in these efforts. Many corporations have no problems using the civil justice system when they think they have been wronged, but they still work to take away the rights of others in the same position. The latest study into that hypocrisy, entitled “Do As I Say, Not As I Sue” takes a close look at the corporate members of a group at the forefront of effort to take away legal rights from community members—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Institute for Legal Reform” (ILR).

There are ten corporate ILR board members, and virtually all of them use the legal system in big ways when they feel they’ve been wronged. For example, Honeywell International is one of the most prolific corporate plaintiffs—taking many groups to court for a variety of causes each year. Yet, whenever the shoe is on the other foot, they simply blame the system itself and blame their victims for seeking to hold them accountable for their misconduct. After losing a case in Illinois for their dangerous conduct related to asbestos, the company used the opportunity to publically ridicule the state for its judicial practices. Some of the other corporate board members have been just as hypocritical. Caterpillar, for example, used the justice system to sue Disney because it felt that the depiction of bulldozers in a small-time, straight-to-DVD movie was overly villainous, potentially hurting their bulldozer business. And yet they think victims of life-long, debilitating birth defects should not have the right to go to court?

Our Illinois personal injury lawyers remain proud to help victims in our area that have suffered harm because of the carelessness of others. That is why we stand for all those who use the civil justice system, because it is in many ways the only place where all are on equal footing. The nation’s founders understood this, and that is why they enshrined the system without our national framework. If you or a loved one has been harmed because the medical providers failed to provide you with a basic level of care during the birth of your child, please get in touch with an Illinois birth injury lawyer and learn how the justice system can protect your rights.

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October 28, 2011

Early Research Hints At Link Between Prenatal Anti-Depressant Use and Autism

The Illinois birth injury lawyers at our firm know that autism is one of the most well-known childhood developmental disorders, affecting countless families in our area and throughout the country. As PubMed Health explains, autism affects the development of the brain, particularly areas affecting social and communication skills. According to the latest information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism is more common than many suspect. Boys are affected upwards of four times more than girls

No specific causes have yet to be proven, however it has been linked to abnormal biology and brain chemistry. Most suspect that a combination of factors is likely at play. On one hand, genetic factors are involved, because identical twins are much more likely than sibling or even fraternal twins to both have autism. However, the research area remains very active and experts continue to work every day on studies that shed more light on what might cause the developmental disorder.

Just this week the Health Jockey reported on the results of a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which may ultimately prove to have implications for the way certain drugs are known to influence autism. The new research out of the University of Mississippi Centre and University of California has found that rats which used anti-depressants during certain developmental phases displayed abnormalities similar to human autism sufferers. The specific drugs involved are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and some involved believe that consumption of the drugs during conception may contribute to autism.

The analysis in this case involved nearly 200 rats which were exposed to the drugs during specific brain development stages. They were treated for a span of two weeks beginning roughly a week after their birth. Experts explain that this is similar to the third trimester and early infancy in humans. When compared with a control group, the rats treated with SSRIs showed significantly less playfulness, and weaker socialization. Interestingly, the influence of the drug exposure appeared more prominent in male rats than in females, similar to the prevalence found in human autism.

The lead researchers in the study explained that that “this study is a starting point and a lot more research needs to be done.” Those involved next plan to examine SSRIs in human tests. They plan on considering the effects of certain dosages and the time of use to determine if an autism connection can be found.

The Chicago personal injury attorneys at our firm work with individuals who suffer a wide range of harm, from medical malpractice to preventable birth defects. Of course, not all types of injury or developmental problems are caused by things that could have been prevented had others acted more carefully. However, as medical research improves and new information is found about the causes of certain problems, including autism, birth defects, and other issues, than it is important for those in a position to prevent the resultant harm to do so. This includes those helping guide parents through the prenatal care.

If at any time you or a loved one suspects that they have not received the care to which you were entitled which may have prevents injury to you or a new child, please get in touch with our office to learn how we can help.

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The Connection Between Birth Defects and Antidepressants

Birth Injuries – Could There Be a Link to Autism?

October 27, 2011

World’s Largest Study Underway on the Fear of Childbirth

Every Illinois birth injury attorney knows that medical patients deserve care that is tailored specifically to their needs at all times. This may seem intuitive, but it is an important principle that is often forgotten and occasionally at the heart of some medical caregiving problems. In the Illinois birth injury context, this means that doctors must not simply “go through the motions” when providing prenatal care, but instead they must ensure that the risks, concerns, and issues that are seen in each patient guide the treatment and care provided. Most medical providers obviously follow this demand at all times, and provide the care needed to guide the patient through to the best outcome possible. However, there remain some doctors who cut corners in the process, failing to take each patient’s specific needs into account, ultimately resulting in harm that could have been prevented.

Of course, the health of an expectant mother can have significant ramifications on the development and birth of their child. This includes both the physical health of the mother, as well as the social and emotional health of the expecting mother. Many medical providers are still working to understand the full scope of these issues. For example, according to a recent CNN report, researchers were puzzled recently to learn that there is a significant increase in natural childbirths on Valentine’s Day and a similar decrease in those births on Halloween. While doctor’s are still unsure what specific processes lead to these statistics, it is currently assumed that in some way the holidays affect the mother’s mental state influences the birth, even though it is not consciously in their control.

Another unique concern that must be taken into account is a growing body of research into the serious phobia that some women have of childbirth. Information on this phobia is still incomplete, but some medical professionals across the world explain that anywhere from five to ten percent of pregnant women need some treatment for their fear of childbirth. As explained this week by Medical News, if untreated, the fear may result in a wide range of birth injuries and harm to both the new child and the mother.

A new study—the largest ever of its kind—is currently underway that is looking into the way that the fear my affect deliveries of children. For example, if a woman’s fear of natural childbirth is so strong, it may be necessary to schedule a planned C-section to prevent possible natural birth complications. However, C-sections are more risky on the whole than vaginal births, and so those C-sections should only be performed when necessary. Better understanding the scope of the birth phobia problem and the actual effects that it has on delivery are essential to understanding exactly how the delivery and prenatal care should be influenced by the fear.

Continue reading "World’s Largest Study Underway on the Fear of Childbirth" »

October 23, 2011

Family Raises Awareness About Rare Birth Injury—Congenital diaphragmatic hernia

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers are familiar with a wide range of injuries that can affect new children because of our work helping families working through these situations. However, for the majority of the public their first serious encounter with these injuries arises when they themselves, a friend, or family member has a child who suffers from one of these Illinois birth defects. This is why it is important for all those who have a child who was injured or passed away because of problems at birth to share their story and raise awareness of their particular struggle.

This week Whig News recently shared the story of a woman who is doing just that to raise awareness of the rare birth defect from which her daughter suffers. The mother explained that her young child is lucky to be alive after being born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Little is known about the problem, though it is more common than more publicized injuries like spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, and cystic fibrosis. One out of every two thousands children are born with the hernia each year.

Congenital diaphragmatic hernia arises where there is an absence or hole in the child’s diaphragm. It most commonly occurs on the left side of the body and causes the contents of the abdomen—like the stomach, intestines, and liver—to go through the opening and into the victim’s chest. This intrusion prevents proper lung development, resulting in breathing problems upon the child’s birth. There are two type of the hernia. The first, Bochdalek hernia, arises when there is an opening on the back side of the diaphragm causing the stomach intestines, liver, or spleen to move into the chest cavity. The second form is known as Morgagni hernia. It is the rarer of the two and involves a frontal diaphragm opening through which the liver or intestines enters the cavity.

The woman profiled in the story is hoping to raise money to help treat those suffering from this condition. The advocate explained that some families find out about the problem before birth, usually through an ultrasound revealing breathing problems with the child. This mother explained that when her daughter was finally born, emergency action had to be taken nearly at once to save her life. She was airlifted to a bigger hospital during which times her lungs collapsed on at least four occasions. It wasn’t until two weeks later that she showed signs of improvement. The girl in this case was able to go home about two and a half months after her birth. However, many children born with the hernia are forced to live in the hospital for the first year of their lives.

Our Illinois birth defect attorneys applaud the advocacy efforts of these families. It is never easy to turn these tragedies into something positive, but stories of courage like this set a strong example for others working through the situation. We encourage all families whose young child was born with this or other defects to seek out the many resources available for support, encouragement, and aid. There is no need to deal with these situations alone.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

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October 18, 2011

Birth Defects Lawsuit Filed to Stop Mining Permit

Late last week the Charleston Gazette reported on a unique birth defect lawsuit that was filed in the hopes of preventing a mining permit from being issued. A citizen group filed the complaint in the case which seeks to prevent an Alpha Natural Resources mining permit from being issued out of concerns for the effect that the mining efforts will have on the health of nearby residents. At the heart of the suit is new evidence produced by researchers from West Virginia University which found high rates of cancer and birth defects among those living in the mountaintops near where the removal operations are slated to take place.

The organization which initiated the lawsuit, the Ohio Valley Environmental Group, has asked the local federal judge to block the requested permit to prevent the mining and hopefully to prevent medical harm coming to those in the area. Within the suit the environmental team explained that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to properly consider the overall impact that the mine would have on water quality in the area. In addition, the legal team is arguing that those involved with the efforts did not allow public input on the measure which was required by law. All of this was argued in addition to the growing body of scientific evidence which suggest strong public health consequences for the effort.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency had previously objected to the permit’s issuance, but they decided against stepping in to stop the latest approval. The environmental group which took up the challenge explained that conductivity and selenium water pollution would hurt the nearby population. This type of pollution has been shown to increase the instances of birth defects. When expectant mothers consume unnatural levels of these chemicals in nearby water, their developing children are affected. As with all medical harm, it is much preferable to take steps to prevent the problems from occurring in the first place. This includes keeping waters safe, instead of merely treating the illnesses that arise as a consequence of the pollution. The WVU School of Medicine recently found that that birth defect were more common than normal among Appalachian residents living near these removal operations.

Continue reading "Birth Defects Lawsuit Filed to Stop Mining Permit" »

October 12, 2011

Many Struggles Face Young Boy Injured During Birth

Birth injuries are frequently discussed in the aggregate, with statistics referenced in order to explain the scope of the problem. It is important to spread awareness of the total number of local community members who are affected by problems during childbirth. However, our Illinois birth accident attorneys also know that in the end, these are individual struggles. At the end of the day it is individual families that are forced to work through the consequences of these accidents, consequences that often last a lifetime. That is why it is important from time to time to discuss the specific struggles faced by individual children whose lives are forever changed because of things that occurred during their birth. Compass Cayman recently produced a story that shared information on what one four-year old boy has gone through in his short time here after suffering a birth injury.

The young boy’s trouble became apparent only when he began failing hearing tests as an infant. After reviewing the tests doctor concluded that he must have suffered a stroke while in the womb. The stroke apparently affected the child’s brain function. However, there are lingering suspicions that oxygen deprivation that the child experienced right after his birth may also have caused his developmental delays. It was only later that the child was specifically diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is actually a term that refers to a range of problems that involve brain and nervous system functions. Those suffering from cerebral palsy face a myriad of problems affecting thinking, hearing, vision, movement, and most other basic human actions.

The child in this case has difficulty seeing and hearing. In addition, any muscular movement is extremely hard for him. Even tasks as simple as chewing are a struggle, though his parents hope that one day he will be able to swallow easier. The boy cannot walk or even crawl, but he has learned to roll to get around. The child also suffers from chronic acid reflux disease, causing him pain when he is placed in certain positions. His inability to chew and trouble swallowing means that he had to have feeding tube inserted into his stomach—he could not take in enough food to survive otherwise. On top of all of that, the boy has full body seizures. The seizures in part caused him to develop sleep problems, and he can now only sleep a maximum of four hours at a time.

Tragically, our Chicago birth injury attorneys know that this young child’s situation is not unique. Many local families who have experienced an Illinois birth injury have children with cerebral palsy. Many of those youngsters have the same set of problems. Obviously, the care required to support these victims is costly. When the problems are caused by misconduct that should have been prevented, it is entirely reasonable and logical for the one who committed the error to provide recourse to help these families provide care for their disabled children. If your family has a member who suffered a birth injury and you suspect poor medical care contributed to the injury, please contact our office and see how we can help.

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October 11, 2011

Family Foundation Raises Awareness of Childbirth Brain Injuries

The loss of a family member from a childbirth brain injury is a particularly painful tragedy. Far too many families in our area have been forced to deal with these very incidents over the years. The Illinois birth injury lawyers at our firm have worked closely with many of those families, and we understand the scope of the problem. There are few good things that come out of these losses, but some families are able to take the tragedy and make something worthwhile out of it.

For example, Lower Hudson News recently shared the story of one family who worked to make the best of the situation after losing their young child to a birth injury. Eleven years ago the family was thrust into an unexpected situation when their young child was born with a severe brain injury. The problem was caused by oxygen deprivation during his birth which caused permanent brain damage. The injury presented a wide range of problems for their new addition, and he was battling for survival from the beginning. Unfortunately, their son’s struggle eventually ended when he passed away when he was eight months old. Obviously it was a dramatic loss for all those who loved the young child.

However, this family decided to turn the tragedy into a situation that helps others. The young child’s parents eventually created a foundation to honor their son’s memory. Over the years the foundation has grown and has provided more than $500,000 to various charities in the region that help young children who have suffered injury during birth. As this family knows well, children who face these injuries often require tens of thousands (often hundreds of thousands) of dollars in care. When the care is required throughout their entire lives the total costs could actually reach into the millions. To help those in need, this family is using money raised by its foundation to provide support to these families including a therapeutic gym for infants, and special equipment to help those with communication and mobility problems. On top of providing funds for those in need, the foundation also seeks to educate families about the risks present in childbirth. For example, they seek to provide information to mothers about the risks of vaginal birth following a cesarean section.

Continue reading "Family Foundation Raises Awareness of Childbirth Brain Injuries" »

October 10, 2011

Birth Injury Lawsuit Proceeds Alleging Defects Caused By Solvent Exposure

Illinois birth injuries are devastating for the families involved. The birth of a new addition to a family is supposed to be a blessed day, and everyone always hopes that their infant will be born without any problems for the baby or the mother. Unfortunately, our Illinois birth defect lawyers know that many families have their lives forever changed when complications develop during childbirth. These injuries are sometimes unavoidable accidents, while at other times they can be traced back to specific causes which often should have been prevented.

For example, the Seattle PI News reported late last month on a birth injury lawsuit filed by a mother who claims that her son suffered birth defects caused by exposure to solvents used at an facility where she used to work. However, because of restrictions in the state on the rights of victims to present testimony from medical experts, the woman and her son are still fighting to have their day in court. At first courts had ruled that there were limits to what medical experts could be used to prove a case against an insurance company or an employer.

Fortunately, however, last month the state’s highest court reversed those lower court rulings and opened the door for the family to allow their medical experts to be heard at trial. The court ruled that medical testimony should be allowed so long as the methods used to reach those conclusions are scientifically sound. This is a much less exacting standard than the old one which required there to be scientific consensus before such testimony could be heard. The new standard is more logical, in that it allows a jury the opportunity to hear about the disagreement and the facts of a particular case before reaching its decision. Of course, the opposing side is free to present any opposing evidence that they might have. But at least the new standard will not cut off the victim’s right in court simply because there exist more than one scientific opinion on a certain issue.

As a result of this latest decision, the family in this lawsuit will be allowed to have their day in court. However, beyond that it will allow other victims the opportunity to have a similar opportunity to share their story before defense attorneys used the loophole to cut them off before getting a chance to present evidence. As one of the judge’s who supported the unanimous opinion noted, holding otherwise in the case essentially meant that virtually all medical opinions could be argued inadequate beforehand, unfairly limiting the rights of victims to get to the courtroom. The new rule will instead provide judges with more a logical explanation about what level of acceptability a medical opinion must be in before it is allowed to be heard.

The Illinois birth injury lawyers know that there remain many interest groups that work every day to put more roadblocks in the way for all victims who have suffered tremendous harm at the hands of others. Unfortunately, it is often in the financial interest of these large entities—such as insurance companies—to spend resources hoping to take rights away from victims. It is important to fight all of these efforts and ensure that justice and fairness remain. This involves both ensuring legislation is not enacted which limits victims’ rights and pushing for legal rules that respect fairness and common sense.

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October 9, 2011

New Research Seeks to Better Understand Birth Injuries that Affect the Brain

Our Illinois birth injury lawyers have worked with enough victims and their families to appreciate the seriousness of brain injuries that strike newborns. These types of injuries can affect people of all ages, not just infants, and they have a variety of causes. However, more often than not when a newborn experiences brain trouble it can frequently be linked back to problems during the birth of the child. We know that Chicago newborn brain injuries are uniquely harmful, because they frequently result in permanent damage that will follow the youngster for life. These injuries often require the child to have significant prolonged medical and physical assistance. The consequences of these injures should obviously lead all involved to do whatever they can to prevent them from arising in the first place. A large part of that task involves ensuring that the most up-to-date and knowledgeable medical understandings are considered at every step of a pregnancy and birth.

Fortunately, medical experts continue to test new waters to better understand why these brain injuries arise and what can be done to prevent them. For example, the Digital Journal recently explained the work of some medical professionals in this area who have the goal of eliminating newborn brain injuries. The new research effort is being touted as one of the first to focus specifically on certain aspects of newborn brain development problems. Of course, we believe that the work is long overdue. Far too many young children are affected by these injuries, and entire families have their lives forever altered because of them. If anything can be done by medical professionals to prevent the problems, they should be done. The latest research shows that about six out of every thousand children are affected by a brain injury. Many of those injuries are permanent and severe.

The researchers discussed in the new story are hoping to lower that figure specifically by learning more about the blood problems associated with the birth of children with these issues. The experts suspect that one potential cause of these injuries relate to blood abnormalities or potential inflammation in the mother during pregnancy and birth. To test their theory, the involved researchers are collecting blood samples of thousands of pregnant woman, looking at the properties of that blood both before and after the birth. It is hoped that the research has long-term benefits for patients across the country. Some have suggested that as more resources are devoted to learning about these newborn injuries, certain birthing practices will need to be phased out. Of course, sometimes it is hard to get a medical consensus on the need to change longstanding practices. But it is vital that new knowledge be incorporated into the routine of doctors across the country, especially when the lives of mothers and new children are at stake.

It is important for all expecting families to demand that their medical professionals provide care that is influenced by new information and developments in the field. Part of the obligation of all professionals—from doctors to lawyers—is a willingness to adapt with the times, stay aware of changes in the field, and ensure that patients (or clients) are given the highest quality service at all times. Just as lawyers cannot stop learning after law school, medical professionals also cannot finish their educational path with medical school. The vast majority of professionals are well aware of this obligation and spend each day helping those who rely on them. In the medical context, those who work to save our lives are truly indispensible members of the community to whom we all owe our gratitude. However, there are always some who fail to grasp their overall duty and others who are generally great professionals but make a mistake that affects the lives of others. In those cases, it is important for the victims to have a system that attempts to make them whole as much as possible. Our Chicago newborn injury lawyers are proud to work within that legal system on behalf of these victims.

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October 7, 2011

Mothers and Children At Risk in Early Cesarean Sections

Expectant mothers have a variety of concerns about how to ensure that their developing child is born without birth injuries or defects. There are no easy answers to some questions that mothers have, and it is always possible for problems to develop without the fault of anyone else. However, our Chicago birth mistake lawyers know that in many other cases there are problems that develop which could and should have been prevented. In those cases medical professionals are at least partially responsible for failure to properly advise mothers of complications, from acting too slowly to prevent problems, or from taking ill-advised steps that lead to permanent harm to the newborn.

Doctors play a crucial role in the birth of children, and it is vital that all medical professionals in these situations act reasonably to keep mothers and their children safe. More often than should be acceptable, mistakes are made. Decisions should also be made that minimize the risks of problems. For example, the Digital Journal explained this week how some medical professionals are risking harm by advising their patients to choose a Cesarean section to deliver their child before the babies reach full term—39 weeks. These early Cesarean sections are done instead of normal vaginal deliveries. According to the latest data, these C-sections are become increasingly popular, now totaling more than 36 percent of all births.

According to a new study from Yale university researchers, the C-sections are gaining popularity for both convenience and cosmetic reasons. Of course, there is some planning benefit to be able to schedule a pregnancy, and there can be certain physical benefits to surgical assistance in the birthing process. Uniquely, study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development explained that more educated woman are more like to schedule their pregnancies with C-sections ahead of time. However, more and more advocates have worried about the undue influence that medical professionals have on convincing patients to have early C-sections. For one thing, it is convenient for doctors to schedule pregnancies around office hours and vacations. In addition, these surgical procedures may be encouraged not necessarily for medical reasons but because doctors fear birth injury lawsuits that can arise when a pregnancy is conducted naturally.

This skewed increase in C-section use has also raised concerns from organization like the March of Dimes who understand that every week of pregnancy is crucial for the health of both the mother and child. The consequences of cutting the gestation period short for convenience factors should never be underestimated when the well being of the patients are involved. Up until birth a baby is putting on weight and the brain, lungs, liver, and other organ continue to develop. Research continues to show that children are healthier and it is cheaper medically when infants develop naturally and are delivered without resort to C-section.

Continue reading "Mothers and Children At Risk in Early Cesarean Sections" »

October 5, 2011

Family That Won Birth Injury Lawsuit Needs State Help to Receive Judgment

When those calling for “tort reform” are working to pass measures limiting the rights of medical malpractice victims, they likely believe that they are fighting to help doctors under attack. Of course, our Illinois birth injury lawyers know that is not at all the case. Unfortunately, it is everyday community members and innocent families struggling to put their lives together after devastating medical errors that are hurt by so-called “reform” efforts.

For example, many states have enacted special legal rules that limit the ability of victims of medical malpractice—including birth injuries—to recover the compensation that a jury decides they are entitled. Even after winning the right to head to court and convincing the fact-finder of their legal position, these families are often still denied their right to redress. Naples News recently reported on one family’s fight to obtain the resources they need to help their son survive. The child, now seven years old, was born with cerebral palsy that was caused by medical errors. The child mother was given the drug Pitocen to help induce contractions. Over the course of the birth the woman was given more and more dosages of the drug. However, the total amount given to the woman was not properly monitored. As a result, the woman began having particularly severe contractions that cut off the child’s flow of oxygen which ultimately led to the child’s condition.

The child’s parents filed a birth injury lawsuit to seek redress for the consequences of the error. The case went to trial and a jury found in favor of the family for $30 million. However, the family has not received any of that money. Unique sovereign immunity legal rules in the state limit the family’s right to recover anything over $200,000 from the publically run health system unless a special “claims bill” is approved by the state legislature. Unfortunately, that bill was denied last year and it is unclear if it will be successful this year. The hospital administrators plan to use lobbying efforts to defeat the measure.

While the family waits to see if they will have the resources that they need, the young child is struggling to survive. Budget cuts in his area recently meant that he no longer was able to have the extra assistance he needs to attend school—his mother was forced to home school him. The child is able to communicate and move around somewhat, though it takes him extra time. He misses being around friends at school. His wheelchair is getting old and can no longer go up a ramp, however the family does not have the money to buy a new one. In addition, the boy is getting older and his mother is not sure how much longer she can handle his physical needs without extra assistance.

It remains shocking that so many roadblocks continue to be placed in front of victims of these accidents, preventing them from receiving the redress to which they should be entitled under the law. Our Chicago childbirth mistake lawyers will continue to fight against all efforts to unfairly handcuff victims in our area. No local policymakers, medical professionals, or other advocates should fear the consequences of basic fairness and accountability. Please contact our office if you feel that you or a loved one has suffered injury as a results of preventable mistakes made during the birth of a child.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Cerebral Palsy Primer: What It Is & When It Arises

Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed After Child Born with Cerebral Palsy

October 4, 2011

Nearly $60 M Birth Injury Verdict Highlights Expense of Life-long Care

The size of verdicts and settlements in civil lawsuits depend on a variety of factors. While large figures often surprise some community members, there are very real calculations that go into determining how much a plaintiff can and should receive in any given case. The type of injury, the length of rehabilitation, scope of pain and suffering, effect on third parties, degree of culpability of defendant, and other factors all play into the ultimate amount that a lawyer will seek and that a court may provide. Our Illinois birth injury attorneys have spent decades evaluating and working within the system to ensure that all of our clients receive the full compensation that fairly accounts for all of their losses.

It is not uncommon for verdicts and settlements related to these injuries to be some of the largest and for good reason. Unfortunately, when an Illinois birth injury strikes, the consequences often last for a lifetime. When a child is injured at birth the overall loss to the family is extremely high. There are often staggering past and future medical costs, immense pain and suffering, and sometimes disability or disfigurement. In addition, many children who are permanently harmed while being born due to a preventable error will never live a normal life as a result. Whenever possible those losses should be accounted for an included in the damages sought when holding the medical professional accountable for their conduct.

The scope of these injuries is hard to overestimate. That is why it is not necessarily all that shocking to read stories like the one reported in the News Journal late last month on the $58.6 million verdict following a birth injury lawsuit. The case was filed after an obstetrician made mistakes during delivery that caused a child to suffer severe brain damage. As a result of the mistake the child is unable to walk, talk, or eat. After hearing all of the evidence in the case from both sides, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff in the amount of $58.6 million. While suits of this size are certainly not the norm, it is possible for injuries caused by negligent medical professionals to result in millions of dollars in long-term damage to the families involved. The jury verdicts reflect the seriousness of the mistake.

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys have worked on many cases where a jury has returned a verdict or settlement for significant sums. For example, just last year our lawyers achieved a verdict in the amount of $6.5 million for a young girl who suffered cerebral palsy and mild mental retardation following her doctor’s failure to perform a timely Caesarean section. In another case our client was awarded $6.71million by a jury after an inexperienced resident physician made serious errors. The young child in that case suffered shoulder dystocia and a brachial plexus arm injury as a result of the mistakes. Unfortunately similar errors occur across our area all too frequently. It is important for all victims to ensure they protect their rights by visiting a legal professional to discuss their options.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Family Awarded $4.5 Million Following Birth Injury Lawsuit

Family Receives $1.5M Settlement for Birth Injury/Wrongful Death Lawsuit

October 3, 2011

Bond Finally Posted Following Birth Injury Lawsuit Verdict

The experienced Illinois childbirth negligence lawyers at our firm know that it takes continued advocacy to ensure that clients receive the legal representation they need from the beginning of a case to the end. Unlike the frequent misguided portrayals made by those seeking tort reform, defendants in civil actions—including birth injury lawsuits—usually throw up every defense possible and use stalling tactics to fight efforts to hold negligent wrongdoers accountable for the consequences of their actions. The need to fight through the legal stall tactics is one reason why it is important for victims of these injuries to seek out experienced legal professionals who have consistently seen these cases through to the end.

For one thing, investigation and analysis must be conducted before the suit is even filed so that proper information can be included in a complaint. The complaint is the formal legal document filed by the plaintiff which initiates a civil action. After the complaint is filed defense attorneys often try to get the lawsuit thrown out of court on technicalities by filing a motion to dismiss. If the plaintiff survives that then discovery is conducted where information is collected on both sides. Near the end of the discovery process defense lawyers often try to defeat the measure again by filing a motion for summary judgment. It is only is the plaintiff withstands that attempt that the case actually goes to trial.

Of course, there are no guarantees that a jury will return a verdict for the plaintiff. Both sides have the ability to present their side of the story, and the plaintiff retains the burden of proof. Essentially that means that in the event of a “tie,” the defendant wins. However, even after a jury returns a verdict for a plaintiff, work must be conducted to ensure that the victim actually receives the award to which they are entitled. Many insurance companies, hospitals, and defendants attempt to use stall tactics even after money is owed to block the collection. It takes focused, experienced legal professionals to follow the case all the way through and ensure that victims actually receive what they are entitled in as efficient a manner as possible.

For example, last week the Trib Today published a story on the stall tactics conducted by one insurance company that delayed as long as possible after a birth injury lawsuit led to a verdict for a plaintiff. After losing a $9.7 million medical malpractice case, an insurance company appealed, but they refused to post a bond which was required for that appeal. The delay in posting the bond meant that the plaintiff’s attorneys began action against in the individual doctor involved in the case—even though the judgment was supposed to be paid by the insurance company. Eventually, only after a filing a lawsuit claiming that they were not required to post a bond (over a year after the verdict), did the company finally do as required.

Our Illinois birth injury lawsuits are experienced professionals who have followed through on countless cases for victims to ensure that they actually receive the funds that they are owed in a timely matter. Winning a verdict or reaching a settlement means little to the plaintiff’s until they actually receive the redress required.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Family of Injured Boy Seeks Approval of $30M Award in Birth Injury Lawsuit

Doctor’s Failure to Treat Jaundice Causes Baby to Suffer Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

September 6, 2011

Illinois Family Recovers $29M in Birth Injury Case

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys recently read about a Gurnee birth injury lawsuit in which the family of the baby received $29 million dollars after the verdict was in found in their favor. The lawsuit was against the doctors and nurses that were in charge of taking care of the baby after birth and the lawsuit dealt with their negligence that led to their baby’s permanent brain injury following his birth. The Illinois birth injury lawsuit alleged that the baby, who was born eight years ago, suffered severe brain damage because the doctors and nurse at the health center where he was born failed to take proper care when he was born with a common blood infection.

The birth injury lawsuit was filed years ago and the family of the young boy won the suit last year, but it was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals, and just recently affirmed, meaning that the appellate court agreed with the original trial court. The appellate court agreed that the evidence presented showed that the doctors and nurses acted negligently in not treating the newborn baby’s infection for 12 hours after he was born with clear signs of a infection that was clearly getting worse over time.

The lawsuit against the doctors and nurses that were caring for the baby at the time of delivery and shortly after the baby was born, were accused of acting negligently in respect to their treatment of the baby shortly after birth. According to The Chicago Sun Times, when the baby was born he had a blood infection that is common during pregnancy and at birth, and can be treatable if handled appropriately. However, as the lawsuit alleges and the court agreed with, the doctors and nurses did not do anything for the baby for nearly 12 hours after birth. At that point the infection had advanced to a point where the baby suffered from severe injury, including a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and of spastic quadriplegia that are permanent and will require care throughout his whole lifetime.

The family of the baby did not realize immediately that the baby’s permanent brain injuries were caused by the doctor’s negligence, and did not realize that his injuries would likely not have been permanent had the staff acted as they should have when the infection presented itself. The family only realized that the staff had acted negligently when their second son was born with the same infection and was treated with medicine immediately after birth and recovered completely. This made the family realize that something must have been done wrong with their first baby and that the hospital staff had not handled the baby with the appropriate level of care that he needed.

If you or your loved one believes that a doctor or nurse acted negligently in treating your baby during birth, or shortly after birth, and your baby suffered injuries as a result, contact our personal injury law firm today. Our Illinois birth injury attorneys have helped clients all over the state of Illinois with birth injury lawsuits and are here to talk to you about what has happened and what options are available.

August 27, 2011

Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuit Settles for Over $15 M

Our Illinois birth injury attorneys were interested to learn about an Illinois birth injury lawsuit settlement in which an Aurora family received over $15 million dollars after filing a lawsuit against the doctor who delivered the family's baby. The birth occurred seven years ago but the medical malpractice lawsuit just settled. The birth injury that the lawsuit was addressing was the result of negligence on the part of the doctor who delivered the baby and his actions left the baby with cerebral palsy and with mental retardation. Cerebral palsy is something that may occur during birth if the baby is without oxygen for too long, and is the term used to describe the conditions suffered by this lack of oxygen and that result is physical or mental developmental problems.

During delivery, the doctor attempted to use a vacuum extractor to help to deliver the baby, and continued to attempt to use this method even after the method failed him multiple times. According to About Cerebral Palsy, even though the mother and the baby were in severe distress at the time of the delivery, the doctor did not intervene or try to reduce the permanent damage to the baby and instead kept trying something that had failed multiple times before. The baby appeared to have been developing with no problems prior to during the delivery and it is very likely that had the doctor performed a C-section when the complications presented themselves, the baby would not have been born with any serious permanent birth related injuries. While the doctor did eventually perform a C-section to deliver the baby, it was not until after multiple failed attempts with the vacuum extraction device.

Because the doctor ignored the signs, the mother and baby were in distress for too long and as a result the baby was born with and will permanently have serious brain and developmental damage as a result. Treatment for these lifelong birth injuries will be very expensive and that is part of the reason that the family was asking for the amount in the lawsuit. Additionally, the amount sought by the family and the amount determined in the settlement not only includes money for the medical bills, but also compensation for all that the young boy and the family has suffered through as a result of the doctor's negligence.

Continue reading "Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuit Settles for Over $15 M" »

June 14, 2011

Medical Malpractice: The sad case of shoulder dystocia

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys often receive troubling calls from heartbroken parents describing incidents of shoulder dystocia. According to a recent article from MissionLocal.org, shoulder dystocia is a birth complication often associated with, but not limited to pregnant women with diabetes. Shoulder dystocia occurs when a child’s head is delivered, but the shoulders of the child are unable to pass through the birth canal. When this occurs, the child is immediately in jeopardy of suffering serious birth injuries or even death. According to the report, sometimes doctors are able to avoid injury by quickly repositioning the child, but others aren’t so lucky.

Shoulder dystocia is one of the most dangerous birth complications. Once the head of a baby is delivered, significant strain is placed on the umbilical cord. In a typical childbirth setting this is not a problem because of the relatively short period of time between delivery of a baby’s head and shoulders. In shoulder dystocia cases, however, the prolonged stress often leads to permanent injuries.

John Perconti filed a lawsuit against Evanston Hospital in 2005 for complications suffered by Denise Juarez when the birth complication of shoulder dystocia caused her to ultimately suffer from Erb’s palsy, which is the weakness or loss of movement caused by damage to the nerve bundles at one’s shoulders.

While some cases involving shoulder dystocia can not be predicted, many others can, and failing to diagnose a fetus with a high propensity of suffering a shoulder dystocia is medical malpractice. In the case of Denise, the facility was negligent in a number of ways. The staff failed to perform an ultrasound prior to delivering Denise to determine her size, given the fact that Denise’s mother had previously delivered a large baby. Additionally, the staff failed to inform Denise’s mother of her increased risk for shoulder dystocia and failed to offer a Caesarean section as an option to reduce these risks. Finally, during delivery, the labor and delivery team failed to perform the proper disimpaction techniques, and the doctors applied excessive force causing Denise’s permanent nerve damage.

John and the rest of the birth injury lawyer team at Levin and Perconti, using their knowledge gained over many years practicing in the area, were able to settle Denise’s case for $1.3 million dollars. This money will help provide Denise the care and treatment necessary to live a more normal life.

February 22, 2011

Trends and complications of cesarean sections and induced labor may lead to birth injury lawsuits

HealthBeat recently reported on the amount of cesearean sections in the past 35 years. Results show that numbers have tripled. Expectant mothers are likely now, more so than ever, to choose a c-section in advance rather than undergo a vaginal birth. In addition, according to another research study, the number of induced births has also increased. It has been reported that nearly 40% of births are electively induced – meaning that there was no medical necessity requiring the induction.

But while these numbers are growing, so are the complications attributed to each of these procedures. During induction, women are administered the drug Pitocin. Because induced labor is often painful, women are also given an epidural. Epidurals can increase the chances of a vacuum or forceps being used during delivery. Furthermore, because babies born by induced labors can often be born too early, the babies will likely be required to stay in the hospital’s neonatal care unit a lot longer than most infants.

Similarly, as addressed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS): “Cesareans are associated with higher rates of surgical complications and maternal re-hospitalization as well as with complications requiring neonatal intensive care unit admission… In addition hospital charges for a Cesarean delivery are almost double those for a vaginal delivery.” Moreover, c-sections are major surgeries which require the patient to recover afterwards. This recovery can often take several weeks.

But while more and more women are choosing to undergo these pre-planned types of births, other women don’t have a choice. At times, c-sections are vital and if not done properly or efficiently, they can often lead to other birth injuries. It is extremely important for healthcare professionals to be cautious and thorough when dealing with such emergency situations in order to minimize error and avoid birth injury lawsuits. However, as our Chicago birth injury attorneys know, that is not always the case.

Continue reading "Trends and complications of cesarean sections and induced labor may lead to birth injury lawsuits" »

February 1, 2011

Child Suffers from Cerebral Palsy and Seizures after Alleged Medical Malpractice

According to a lawsuit recently filed by Fiona and Stanley Brown, negligence on the part of Lakeland OB-GYN and Lakeland Regional Medical Center caused their child, Destiny, to be born suffering from cerebral palsy and seizures.

The birth injury lawsuit claims that while Fiona and Stanley were at Lakeland Regional, the fetal monitor strip indicated a decrease in fetal heart rate. At thirty-eight weeks pregnant, Fiona was told that she needed to undergo an emergency Cesarean section.

Lakeland Regional is accused of not providing timely care before Destiny’s birth, not treating the fetal distress quickly enough, not reporting changes in Fiona’s condition to the attending doctor quickly enough, and of delaying the C-section.

Continue reading "Child Suffers from Cerebral Palsy and Seizures after Alleged Medical Malpractice" »

January 31, 2011

Another Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed in Illinois

Oxygen deprivation during the birthing process can result in serious injury to the child or death. Children who do not receive enough oxygen during the birthing process may be born with a hypoxic brain injury. A child born with a hypoxic brain injury can develop cerebral palsy – a disorder that affects movement and posture. The functional effect of cerebral palsy can be one or more of the following: impaired movement, involuntary movement, rigidness of limbs, abnormal posture, or unsteadiness in walking. Children who suffer from cerebral palsy often also suffer from abnormalities in brain development including, but not limited to, intellectual disability or seizures. Therefore it is essential that the physicians and medical staff assisting in childbirth diligently watch for signs of oxygen deprivation in order to prevent a hypoxic brain injury that can develop into cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy as a result of a hypoxic brain injury during the birthing process is not uncommon. Just last month, the Madison St. Clair Record reported that another Illinois birth injury lawsuit was filed in St. Clair County. The family of the victim alleged that negligence by physicians during the birthing process resulted in a brain injury at Protestant Memorial Hospital in Belleville. According to the complaint, the physician’s failure to do an immediate cesarean delivery or perform inutero resuscitation resulted in a hypoxic brain injury. The hypoxic brain injury caused the development of cerebral palsy in their daughter. The child now suffers with the injury every day. She must cope with a learning disability and physical disfigurement. Her parents also face steep medical costs. In their three-count complaint, they seek more than $150,000 plus costs.

Continue reading "Another Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed in Illinois" »

November 24, 2010

Child with cerebral palsy receives $6.5 million birth injury settlement with Chicago hospital

Chicago birth injury lawyers John J. Perconti and Patricia Gifford of Levin & Perconti represented a ten year old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy and mental retardation. The young girl sustained a brain injury during complications that could have been prevented during her birth.

On November 24, 2010, Levin & Perconti announced that the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL and a physician who failed to perform a timely Cesarean section agreed to pay a $6.5 million present cash value settlement to the injured child and her family.

Doctors failed to diagnose cephalopelvic disproportion in the pregnant mother. Physicians further failed to order an emergency Cesarean section even though they noted erratic decelerations in the fetus, a common warning sign for fetal hypoxia. Once an emergency Cesarean section was ordered, mistakes made by the anesthesiologist resulted in the nursing staff having to hold the mother down while the incision was made during the surgery.

Fortunately, both the newborn and mother survived the procedure. However, the newborn suffered from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which caused the child’s cerebral palsy and mental retardation. The family plans to use the settlement to provide their daughter with the appropriate care she currently needs and the ongoing care she will have to have throughout her adult life.

Continue reading "Child with cerebral palsy receives $6.5 million birth injury settlement with Chicago hospital" »

October 12, 2010

Low Apgar Scores At Birth Linked To Cerebral Palsy

A recent study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found that individuals with low Apgar scores at birth were more likely to be later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The study suggests that the link between low Apgar scores and cerebral palsy is related to the damage caused to the motor control centers of the brain. This damage can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth, or even after birth.

To determine a baby’s Apgar score, the baby's muscle tone, heart rate, muscle reflex, skin coloration, and respiration are evaluated. Each factor is scored on a scale of 0 to 2, with 2 being the best score. The scores are added together and the resulting Apgar score ranges from zero to 10. This test is generally done at one and five minutes after birth, and may be repeated later if the score is and remains low. Scores 3 and below are generally regarded as critically low, 4 to 6 fairly low, and 7 to 10 generally normal.

Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the infant’s brain that can occur before, during or shortly after birth. Exposures to radiation and infection during pregnancy have lead to cerebral palsy. Examples of these infections include rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes, and toxoplasmosis. Asphyxia (lack of oxygen) before birth, hypoxia of the brain, and birth trauma during labor and delivery also cause injury to the infant’s brain, which can lead to cerebral palsy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2 to 3 children in 1,000 are affected by brain injuries leading to cerebral palsy. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has estimated that about 800,000 individuals in the United States have cerebral palsy. Babies with cerebral palsy often have an irregular posture and may be born with other birth defects, such as spinal curvature, a small jawbone, or a small head. However, some babies born with cerebral palsy do not show obvious signs and symptoms right after birth.

Continue reading "Low Apgar Scores At Birth Linked To Cerebral Palsy" »

July 25, 2010

Canadian Research Warns Obesity Adds Health Risks for Expectant Mothers and Newborn Babies

According to McMaster University researchers who collected information from over one million women in 84 studies, overweight moms-to-be have considerably higher risks of delivering prematurely. This risk increases with the weight of the women.

In the first 28 days of a baby’s life, those born prematurely have the highest risk of illness and death. The complications from premature birth include breathing problems, infections and feeding problems with the ultimate risk being death. The rise of obesity in women has contributed to the rise in cesarean sections, along with an increased rate of birth trauma and delivery room emergencies, including birth injuries.

Pre-eclampsia, which is a condition of pregnancy marked by high blood pressure, is more likely to be found in obese women as are blood clots in the legs and diabetes. According to Canadian statistics, 23%of women are obese, while 29% are overweight. Women aged 25-34, deliver over 60% of Canadian babies every year and their obesity rates have nearly doubled in the past 25 years.

In comparison, in the United States according to The Weight-control Information Network, 49.6% of non-Hispanic black women, 43 % of Hispanic women and 33% of non-Hispanic white women are obese. With these high levels of obesity among American women, one can assume that women in the U.S. share the same risks as those in Canada.

The studies found an increased risk of about 24% of spontaneous preterm birth in the overweight or obese women. Additionally, these women had a 30% greater risk of induced preterm births before 37 weeks (a full-term pregnancy is 40 weeks). In the very obese women, the risk rises to 70 %.

Although doctors are not recommending pregnant women lose a large amount of weight during their pregnancy, these studies stress that women should try to optimize their weight before pregnancy to reduce the risks to the child. Weight loss can remove or lessen some of the risks. Childbirth is a routine procedure, but malpractice does occur and the effects can be devastating. That is why it is crucial for expecting mothers to do whatever they can to reduce the risk of premature birth and complications during labor and delivery. Doing so may help to prevent serious and lifelong birth injuries such as Erb's Palsy or Cerebral Palsy. Birth injury prevention should be an important consideration for all pregnant women.

Continue reading "Canadian Research Warns Obesity Adds Health Risks for Expectant Mothers and Newborn Babies" »

July 7, 2010

Settlement Reached for Premature-Birth Lawsuit

According to the Orland Sentinel, a mother who sued EVAC for injuries her son received during a premature birth has reached a settlement for $1.4 million with EVAC ambulance services. Margarita Chess was six months pregnant when she gave birth to her son, Addison, inside an ambulance owned and operated by EVAC. Addison was born with cerebral palsy and suffered brain damage.

Chess first arrived at the Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna Beach, where a doctor decided to transfer her to Halifax medical Center in Daytona because Bert Fish Medical Center was not equipped to handle her prematurely born son. Halifax Medical Center did not accept the transfer, citing that they lacked specialists who could handle premature births.
At the trial EVAC argued that paramedics could not refuse the emergency-room doctor's order. The jury found EVAC negligent for accepting transport and for the care it provided. Originally Chess brought suit against both the hospitals and doctors but settlement was reached with EVAC for a total of $1.4 million.

Continue reading "Settlement Reached for Premature-Birth Lawsuit" »

June 29, 2010

Gestational Diabetes and Obesity Linked to Increased Birth Weight in Babies

Parents who suffer from a combination of gestational diabetes (GDM) and obesity have recently been linked to an increased chance of delivering children with macrosomia. Macrosomia, having a very high birth weight, can lead to various birth injuries if not recognized and approached correctly by a patient’s doctor.

A recent investigation reported by Dr. Metzger, M.D., of Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago found that obese women had a 13.6% increased chance of delivering a baby with macrosomia compared to women of a healthy weight. If an obese woman then develops gestational diabetes her risk of delivering a macrosomic child is 20.2% above that of a woman of normal weight.

Delivering a baby with a high birth weight takes much more finesse than delivering a baby of normal weight. If a doctor fails to recognize that a baby is macrosomic they may not be able to take the necessary precautions to minimize the risks posed by the delivery. According to Allahyar Jazayeri, M.D. in an article posted by emedicine, attempts at perinatal diagnosis of macrosomia have proven difficult and are often inaccurate so a doctor should always be prepared for the possible complications of macrosomia.

Continue reading "Gestational Diabetes and Obesity Linked to Increased Birth Weight in Babies" »

May 18, 2010

Chicago, Illinois Birth Injury Lawyer Resources

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti have recently launched a newly-designed firm website. The Chicago personal injury website offers a number of new resources, including community pages, the Nursing Home Attorney Resource Center, a directory of commonly used legal terms and expanded practice area information.

We represent a number of individuals and families throughout Illinois who were injured or killed as a result of healthcare provider error during the birth process. Due to this, we felt it was important to expand our birth injury practice area pages to include more information for the public on some of the most common types of birth injuries. We have created new web pages specifically focused on injuries such as cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injuries and injuries caused by vacuum extraction. Visit our main birth injury practice area page to access our expanded pages, and also to learn why birth injury cases differ from other types of medical malpractice lawsuits. After viewing this information, feel free to contact a Chicago injury lawyer to discuss your potential claim.

April 19, 2010

$9.5 Million Settlement in Illinois Cerebral Palsy Case

A Cook County judge and mediator approved a $9.5 million settlement on behalf of a baby born with Cerebral Palsy as a result of medical malpractice, according to the Chicago Breaking News Center. This Illinois birth injury occurred because a nurse failed to call a doctor after the mother began experiencing complications after arriving at the hospital in labor with her son.

The American Pregnancy Association describes how a Cerebral Palsy birth injury like this can happen. About 70% of babies with Cerebral Palsy developed the disorder as a result of complications occurring before or during birth. Maternal infections during pregnancy, insufficient oxygen reaching the fetus, and asphyxia during labor and delivery are among the most common causes of Cerebral Palsy. Furthermore, because Cerebral Palsy affects a child’s control of movement and posture, a health care team is often needed to assist a child with Cerebral Palsy throughout their lifetime. These teams can include pediatricians, rehabilitation physicians, surgeons, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, and social workers.

The need for a specialized team of doctors often means significant expenses must be paid by the family of a Cerebral Palsy child. When this birth injury is the result of medical malpractice, a lawsuit may be a family’s best option to recover costs already spent and defray the high cost of the child’s future medical care. The Chicago birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti have experience representing the families of children who suffer from Cerebral Palsy as a result of doctor error. For example, they have recovered a $4.5 million settlement and a $2.3 million settlement on behalf of children who developed Cerebral Palsy because of medical malpractice.

April 6, 2010

$29.1 Million Verdict for Chicago Birth Injury

The Daily Herald reports that a medical malpractice lawsuit resulted in a $29.1 million verdict for a boy suffering the effects of a severe birth injury. Medical malpractice occurring during the boy’s delivery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago resulted in the child’s Chicago birth injury and brain damage. The boy is now six years old and suffers from quadriplegia and Cerebral Palsy, disorders that resulted from brain injury during his birth. NBC Chicago explains that a doctor ignored an infection in the mother prior to birth, and failure to treat the infection resulted in the child being born with Cerebral Palsy. As a result of the birth injury, the boy cannot walk, talk, or eat through his mouth.

Cerebral Palsy Information explains that Cerebral Palsy is often caused by brain injury either during pregnancy, during birth or shortly after birth. Several infections during a mother’s pregnancy can severely damage a fetus’ nervous system and result in Cerebral Palsy. Quadriplegia is a form of Cerebral Palsy that affects a child’s arms and legs and causes stiff, permanently contracted muscles.

4MyChild notes that about ten to twenty percent of children with Cerebral Palsy acquired it after birth, while many more children developed it during pregnancy or at birth. Two aspects of long labor send signals to doctors that brain damage can result in a birth injury to a baby. If a baby becomes stuck in the mother’s birth canal without oxygen or a doctor does not deliver the baby within 24 hours of the mother’s water breaking, the baby is at a significantly increased risk for a birth injury. Furthermore, doctors need to pay attention to whether the mother develops a fever during pregnancy because this too can lead to brain damage.

As 4My Child explains, quick action is the key to giving birth to a healthy baby instead of one with serious birth injury consequences like Cerebral Palsy. No child should have to suffer the effects of birth injuries that occurred because of medical malpractice. When medical malpractice does occur, however, and a child suffers the life long consequences of a doctor’s negligence, our Illinois birth injury lawyers are here to help.

March 26, 2010

College Student Triumphs Over Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

As cerebralpalsy.org reports, Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders that can be caused by a birth injury or brain damage later in life, and it results from the brain’s inability to control the body adequately. Cerebral Palsy affects chronic movement and posture, causing stiff or difficult movement, loss of depth perception and balance, and/or involuntary or uncontrolled movements. Approximately 10,000 babies each year in the United States will develop Cerebral Palsy, and it is estimated that 800,000 people in the United States live with the disorder. Of that number, about 2-3 children out of every 1,000 children have Cerebral Palsy.

A York Daily Record interview with Kyle Barnhart, a 19 year old college student, shows that people affected by a Cerebral Palsy birth disorder can overcome their disability and become very successful. Barnhart lives with Cerebral Palsy, and while he travels across campus in a motorized wheelchair, uses an electronic communication device to help him speak, and is assisted by aides, his life reflects that of a typical college student. Barnhart throws around a football with his friends, participates in dorm pranks and antics and regularly speaks in class. Cerebral Palsy is thought to be caused by a prenatal brain injury, but Barnhart does not have mental disabilities; in fact, he made the Dean’s List during his first semester of college.

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys represent clients who have developed Cerebral Palsy as a result of medical malpractice and doctor error. For example, we reached a $4.5 million settlement on behalf of a child who suffered brain injury leading to Cerebral Palsy because a doctor failed to perform a timely Caesarean section despite fetal distress. The Illinois birth injury lawyers at our firm also reached a $2.3 million settlement for another child who suffered a severe brain injury and Cerebral Palsy when a physician failed to perform a Caesarean section in a timely manner after the child’s mother complained of a ripping and tearing feeling in her uterus. Birth injuries, such as Cerebral Palsy, often require lifelong medical care. Verdicts and settlements reached on behalf of victims can help to compensate for lifetime medical expenses, potential loss of income and pain and suffering from these injuries. If you believe that your child suffered a birth injury as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, please contact us to discuss your case.

February 2, 2010

Doctor Blamed for Erb’s Palsy Birth Injury

An obstetrician recently received a public reprimand from her state’s medical board. The reprimand states that the doctor’s negligence caused a newborn baby to suffer Erb’s Palsy. According to the report in The Mercury News, the negligent doctor tried a suction delivery, but the baby was too large for natural birth. This risky move caused the baby’s shoulder to become locked on the mother’s public bone, damaging the baby’s shoulder nerves and causing Erb’s Palsy, which left his arm and shoulder paralyzed.

Levin & Perconti have represented clients in a number of Chicago birth injury cases involving Erb’s Palsy. In 2009, John Perconti and Patricia Gifford settled a lawsuit for $1.35 million on behalf of a 9-year-old Waukegan girl who lost movement in her arm. Her doctors failed to inform the girl’s mother of her increased risk for shoulder dystocia. They also failed to perform the proper techniques during labor and delivery to disimpact the newborn's shoulder, causing her injury. To learn more about this birth injury lawsuit, read our latest newsletter.

July 30, 2009

Chicago Birth Injury Settlement for 11 Million Dollars

A Chicago family received an $11 million dollar settlement yesterday for their daughter’s birth injury. The child had suffered a traumatic birth injury during a C-section and while her mother’s uterine ruptured. The child now suffers from cerebral palsy and cannot speak, walk or even eat. The birth injury took place at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. To read the entire article click here on “Chicago Birth Injury Settlement for 11 Million Dollars

June 11, 2009

Illinois Birth Injury Settlement

The family of a brain damaged boy was awarded $12 Million dollars for a birth injury the child suffered. The case took place in Illinois and was against St. Anthony Medical Center. The child suffers from spastic quadriparesis because of the brain injury. The birth injury was a result of a failure to recognize that the child was positioned for a breech delivery; and as a result the child did not receive sufficient oxygen which caused the brain injury. The Hospital did not perform a proper vaginal exam, placed a fetal scalp electrode in the wrong spot and this led to the placenta rupturing during labor and a result the child suffered a birth injury. To read the entire article click here on “birth injury

May 13, 2009

Grandmother Files Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuit

A lawsuit was filed in St. Clair County, IL on behalf of a baby that died due to birth injuries. The child’s grandmother filed the birth injury lawsuit against the doctor that delivered him and the hospital where he was born. The lawsuit alleges that the doctor failed to perform a cesarean or treat the baby during delivery. The baby suffered neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy during delivery and died several months later from his birth injury. Read full coverage of this Illinois medical malpractice case.