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

January 17, 2013

Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis Turned Out To Be Wrong

Last month the Washington Post published a unique story that shared the tale of one family’s struggle to figure out what plagued their son. The case is a testament to the complexity that remains in many birth injury situations.

Assumed Cerebral Palsy
The boy in the case was born prematurely. He was born six weeks earlier than planned in 1999 via Cesarean section. The mother experienced preclampsia--hypertension caused by the pregnancy. The complications led doctors to call for the emergency surgery to have the baby born immediately.

However, it wasn’t until several years later, when he was five, that his parents became concerned about some physical issues. In particular, he seemed to have an awkward gait. After visiting with medical professionals, the family was told that the problem was likely a sign of mild cerebral palsy that developed as a result of his premature birth. Many local families have experienced similar issues, with an early birth causing CP.

At first, the child responded well to tailored interventions and therapy. He was able to master many different motor skills, from walking and jumping to writing in cursive.

Sadly, the positive trajectory did not last. Over time the parents noticed a range of other physical and movement issues, and as hard as he tried, the child wasn’t able to improve as quickly as he had in the past. A few years later even more problems developed: headaches and slight scoliosis.

Re-evaluating the Condition
Eventually he was re-evaluated by other professionals to figure out what was truly wrong--cerebral palsy no longer seemed to fit. Cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition, and the fact that the boy’s gait seemed to worsen suggested that something else was amiss.

After much more research and visiting with many neurological specialists, the boy’s true condition became apparent. Known as Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), it refers to a condition where the nerves in the spine degenerate and there are problems in the brain with the part that controls movements and balance. The condition was first diagnosed in the 1800s by a German doctor--the condition is much more prevalent among those in Europe. In recent years, medical experts have been able to pinpoint two genes--inherited from both parents--that cause the problem.

The news was understandably devastating for the family. As it is a genetic issue, there are currently no effective treatments. The average lifespan of children with FA is 38 years old, and the overall complications that develop in each patient vary considerably. The family is holding out hope that various treatments might be developed in the next few decades which might prolong the young boy’s life.

This tragic case is heartbreaking, but a reminder of the need for all families to be incredibly vigilant about developmental issues in their children. It is also a reminder that all of us should be aware of the many different issues that affect even our youngest community members. There is still so much work that needs to be done to develop treatments that might save or improve the lives of children with many different conditions. We encourage everyone to take opportunities to help, perhaps by donating time or money to causes which are working to find cures for children facing intimidating odds.

See Other Blog Posts:

Defending the Justice Rights of Those Harmed By Preventable Errors

Birth Injury Case at Center of U.S. Supreme Court Deliberations

October 4, 2012

New Illinois Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed

Injury lawyer News reported this week on a new lawsuit filed in Cook County by local parents on behalf of a young girl who, the suit claims, was harmed as a result of medical negligence during her delivery. The suit was filed in mid-September on behalf of the young girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a local hospital.

According to the report, the suit includes negligence claims as well as claims under the Family Expense Act. Understanding various “claims” under a single incident is sometimes the most confusing part of the legal process for local families. On one hand it seems logical for one event (a birth) to give rise to one claim. But, the law is a bit more complex. The is because claims are not necessarily tied to a single set of events. Instead, the ability to sue another is based on different sources. The “common law” provides one tool to seek accountability--that is the basic negligence (or malpractice) claim. In addition there may be statutory claims based on violations of laws passed by a state or federal legislative body--that is the Family Expense Act claim.

The main difference is that one claim is rooted in an actual law passed by elected officials, while the other is rooted in laws developed by the courts over the centuries. In many cases the exact elements that have to be proven to succeed on each claim are somewhat different.

In any event, one of the main skills that an experienced attorney provides is the ability to understand these various claims, the information needed to prevail on each, and the analysis to explain the likelihood of success on any given claim.

The Birth Injury Case
According to the repost on this most recent case, the mother arrived at the defendant-hospital in late November of 2003 to deliver her child. Unfortunately, things did not go well. The mother soon showed signs of distress during the birth, including suspicious fetal heart tracings. The complaint filed in the case suggests that the medical team working on the delivery knew that the child was showing signs of fetal distress with problematic heart rates. Problems with the heart rate are often an indication of oxygen problems to the brain. Lack of oxygen to the brain is how serious, permanent brain injuries develop.

According to the suit, despite the clear warning signs, staff members continued to give the mother doses of a drug called Pitocin throughout the delivery. This is a liquid medication that is commonly used to induce labor. This meant that the delivery continued without emergency action even though the child was suffering distress and needed help.

The complaint alleges that the medical team at the hospital should have performed a C-section in a timely fashion, which would have allowed the baby to receive the help she needed immediately. In addition, the court documents suggest that the staff members acted improperly in the dosages of Pitocin that they provided. If proper steps has been taken, the child may not have been born with the serious brain injury.

This particular case hits on many issues commonly found in birth injury lawsuits. Proper monitoring of warning signs of problems is critical. If medical caregivers have information (or should have that information), then it is key that they act on it. That may mean altering medication schedules, ordering a C-section or other techniques.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have been affected by mistakes made during childbirth, please get in touch with the lawyers at our firm to see how we can help.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Doctors Explain How Medical Malpractice May Cause Cerebral Palsy

Lawsuit Alleges Cerebral Palsy Caused by Birth Injury

August 21, 2011

Jury Awards $58 M to Family of Birth Injury Victim

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys were happy to hear that the family of a baby who suffered a birth injury has been awarded $58 million dollars in a birth injury lawsuit. The lawsuit was initially filed following the birth of the family’s only child, who was born back in early 2003 and suffered from cerebral palsy from what they allege to have been the doctor’s negligent choices in handling the pregnancy and the baby’s delivery.

The negligence initially occurred when the baby’s mother went in for her routine check up during her 39th week of pregnancy and the doctor realized that her amniotic fluid was half of what it should have been in a healthy pregnancy. The doctor did not induce labor and instead the mother went into labor on her own a couple days later and the baby was stuck in the breech position and had barely any signs of life once the doctor was finally able to deliver the baby. According to the Connecticut Law Tribune, the family’s birth injury attorneys argued to the jury that the doctor realizing the amniotic fluid levels were low and not choosing to induce labor immediately was his main error, and that in choosing not to do anything he acted extremely negligently. An expert at trial stated that the very low levels of amniotic fluid clearly indicated that the baby was in trouble and that the doctor should have acted immediately and not let the mother go into labor on her own.

Because the baby was not delivered when the problem was discovered and because the baby was breech and took several minutes to be delivered, the baby was barely breathing and developed cerebral palsy. Luckily the baby survived this ordeal but requires a lot of medical attention and treatment and will continue to require this level of care throughout his life. In terms of a diagnosis, cerebral palsy can cover many different types of brain injuries which may be caused by something going wrong during birth, and in this case likely happened because the baby was without oxygen for several minutes during the delivery. Since it is likely that the doctor not acting when he first realized that there was a problem with the baby caused the injury to be so severe and a permanent, the family filed the lawsuit against him. The case first went to trial three years ago and the jury could not agree on what the verdict should be, but after the retrial the jury decided to award the family $58 million dollars for all they have suffered through as a result of the doctor’s negligence. The amount of the verdict was intended to try to compensate the family not only for the medical costs associated with the birth injury, but also for all the emotional damage they have suffered.

If you or a loved one gave birth to a baby and feel that the doctor that delivered the baby acted negligently and their actions resulted in an injury to the baby, please call our personal injury law firm today. Our birth injury attorneys have helped clients all over the state of Illinois recover damages for the negligent actions of another, and are here to help you or your loved one get the justice that you deserve.

August 15, 2011

Hospital Settles Birth Injury Case for $1.5 Million Dollars

Our Illinois birth injury attorneys recently read about a settlement in a case where a baby was severely injured at a county hospital, and the county hospital agreed to pay $1.5 million dollars to settle the case. The birth injury lawsuit was brought by the mother of a baby that was severely and permanently injured during delivery. According to Record Net, the reason that the hospital is named as the defendant in the birth injury lawsuit is because the mother of the baby felt that it was the hospital’s negligence during the birthing process that led to the baby’s permanent and severe birth injuries. The medical malpractice lawsuit also notes that the injuries to the newborn baby will require lifetime medical care, and damages for this indefinite care were included in the request for damages as well.

Unfortunately, many babies are injured during childbirth as a result of negligence on the part of the hospital staff or because of procedures in place by the hospital. Whether it is caused by the hospital being overcrowded, the hospital being understaffed, the doctors or nurses not being prepared for anything that could happen, or the staff just making mistakes during delivery, these types of injuries happen far too often. Often times the pregnancy has no complications and the baby is perfectly fine and healthy until delivery, and then because of negligence on the part of the hospital or the doctor or nurse, the baby may suffer a birth injury.

Birth injuries often times occur when the baby stops getting oxygen during birth, whether it is caused by the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby or another complication that stops the oxygen flow to the baby. While oxygen derivation during birth is a terrible issue, if the doctor is aware of the problem or of what is causing the lack of oxygen, often times they can fix the issue quickly and the baby does not suffer any permanent damage. However, if a doctor fails to monitor the mother and baby properly they may miss a serious complication and the baby may be without oxygen for too long of a period of time and could have a serious injury such as cerebral palsy.

Birth injuries are often completely preventable with the right care and preparation. The baby should be closely monitored to make sure that all of the vital signs are good and that the baby is not in distress. If the baby is in distress and the doctor realizes it, often times the doctor is able to act quickly and deliver the baby and the baby will be okay and will not suffer any types of permanent damage.

If you recently gave birth and the baby suffered from a birth injury that occurred during childbirth, and you feel that the doctor or hospital was negligent and their actions caused the birth injury please call our personal injury law firm today. Our birth injury attorneys have helped out injured clients all over the state of Illinois and are here to talk to you about your possible case and the options available to you.

July 2, 2011

Disabled Child Receives $3 Million Verdict in Midwife Birth Injury Lawsuit

Mothers often turn to midwives when they are seeking a more natural childbirth option. However, the American Pregnancy Association cautions that sometimes childbirth requires medical interventions that extend beyond the scope of a midwife’s limited services. In those situations, the mother and baby need the prompt attention and care of an experienced obstetrician. If complications arise during childbirth that a midwife is incapable of handling, both mother and baby run the risk of suffering a debilitating birth injury.

Recently, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported that a Maine jury awarded a 10-year-old plaintiff $3 million for past and future medical expenses, permanent impairment, and loss of enjoyment of life after finding that the midwife who had overseen the child’s delivery negligently failed to follow standard medical care procedures. The child is severely disabled and was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Kabuki Syndrome. The medical malpractice lawsuit maintained that the disorder did not account for all of the child’s symptoms, which include severe mental retardation, blindness, wheelchair confinement, a feeding tube, and inability to speak. Rather, the symptoms indicate the child suffered from oxygen deprivation during labor, as a fetal monitor warned. The lawsuit argued that the midwife failed to respond appropriately when the monitor indicated a problem.

The jury came to a verdict for the plaintiff after deliberating for only four hours. The plaintiff’s attorney praised the verdict, but added, “There are no winners in this. Everyone in the courtroom, particularly defense counsel, agreed this is a tragic situation.” Chicago birth injury attorneys know that with the proper care and attention during childbirth, these tragedies are entirely preventable. A fetal monitor should provide sufficient warning if problems occur. However, too often the baby is deprived of oxygen and experiences birth hypoxia or birth asphyxia, which can result in permanent brain damage. Such injuries require lifelong medical care and can exert an astounding financial and emotional strain on families.

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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.

March 24, 2011

$8.5 million settlement for family of child who suffered brain damage at birth

A birth injury lawyer secured an $8.5 million settlement for the family of a severely brain-damaged child. The Jersey Journal reported that even though the trial had already begun, attorneys reached an agreement to settle after five days of trial testimony.

According to the lawsuit, when the mother-to-be first went to the hospital, several prenatal tests were conducted. All of these tests suggested that the unborn baby was normal and healthy. A prenatal heart monitor was then attached to the mother’s abdomen to track the baby’s heart rate. Several hours later, the baby's heart rate started to drop. In fact, records showed that the unborn baby’s heart rate reached a dangerously low level of 60 beats per minute.

Although the baby’s heart rate was grave and required immediate medical attention, evidence suggested that the labor and delivery room nurse waited almost half an hour before calling the attending obstetrician. As the unborn baby continued to struggle, the obstetrician took over twenty minutes before even starting an emergency Cesarean section.

Evidence at trial showed that the unborn baby’s umbilical chord was compressed. This can cause a baby's low heart rate and can cause the fetus to be deprived of oxygen. Experts in the case claimed that as a result of the unnecessary delays by the obstetrician and the delivery room nurse, the unborn baby suffered permanent brain damage.

The child, who is now five years old, suffers from seizures, is unable to walk, and needs to be fed through a straw. The child will be in need for full-time care for his entire life. According to the terms of this birth injury settlement, $6 million was provided for the medical expenses the child will incur in the future. The parents received $2.5 million as compensation for their emotional pain and other damages.

To read more about this birth injury settlement, follow the link.

Unfortunately birth injuries are not uncommon. In early March a family received $19.2 million for their child’s birth injury. Click on the link if you wish to learn more about the family’s struggle with their child’s birth injury. Birth injuries often result in brain injury for the unborn child. If you want to learn more about brain injuries, follow the link.

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February 17, 2011

Lawsuit filed after hospital released a woman in labor

The McKinney Courier-Gazette reported on a pregnant woman who was forced to give birth to her daughter at home after she was turned away from her local hospital. The woman reported to the hospital’s emergency room for treatment. She told the staff in the emergency room that she was suffering from sudden and severe pelvic pain. But the staff discharged her the same day without conducting an examination. When the woman returned home, she went into labor. Her delayed delivery caused her newborn daughter to sustain a traumatic birth injury.

When an unborn baby is delayed during labor, there may be tragic consequences affecting the health of the child. A delayed delivery may cause hypoxia resulting in brain injury due to lack of oxygen. Delayed deliveries may also cause cerebral palsy, Erb’s Palsy (paralysis of the arm), and other learning or developmental disabilities.

Delayed births may be the result of the inattentiveness or the negligence of the attending physician or hospital staff. Victims of birth injuries are sometimes awarded multi-million dollar verdicts or settlements to compensate for the medical costs, pain and suffering, and even the disability the child and their family may face.

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January 7, 2011

Lawsuit alleges that doctors intentionally delayed delivery to increase chance of death.

According to Westlaw News, a pending lawsuit on the west coast claims that hospital doctors intentionally delayed delivery of a baby after they confirmed that the baby would be born with substantial brain injuries. This birth injury lawsuit continues to allege that the hospital doctors delayed delivery in order to increase the likelihood that the baby would not survive delivery.

The unborn baby’s mother is alleging that doctors knew that her unborn baby needed to be delivered immediately and that failure to do so would result in traumatic brain damaged.

She further states that once the doctors determined that the unborn baby had in fact suffered severe brain damage, the doctors purposefully took actions to end the unborn baby’s life in order to save the hospital and the doctors from legal and financial responsibility.

Unfortunately, this pending birth injury lawsuit is not the only case where unborn babies have been affected by a doctor’s negligence. As covered in this blog recently, in one birth injury lawsuit, a newborn baby suffered from fetal hypoxia when doctors failed to order an emergency Cesarean section. In another case, a birth injury lawyer represented the family of a newborn who suffered a brain injury from severe lack of oxygen during delivery. You can read more about these incidents below.

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January 2, 2011

New Hampshire midwife surrenders license following a string of lawsuits

A midwife in Concord, New Hampshire surrendered her license to practice following multiple complaints alleging that the midwife failed to take proper precautions during delivery. Some of the complaints have turned into lawsuits. In one suit, the mother developed an infection and underwent a hysterectomy immediately after giving birth. Another lawsuit deals with a child who suffered severe brain injury during birth.

In New Hampshire, midwives must take a college course in anatomy, study under a practicing midwife and pass a written exam to become certified. The New Hampshire Midwifery Council licenses and oversees the state's lay midwives.

The midwife facing these current allegations has already faced restrictions on her license in the past due to a birth injury in which the midwife failed to monitor the labor properly. According to the Midwifery Council, who keeps files on recorded complaints, the midwife failed to get emergency help in a timely manner and the baby consequently died.

As a result of her negligence in that case, the Midwifery Council required the midwife to temporarily practice under another midwife and to participate in continuing education. However, following her supervision, the midwife assisted eight births in one year that sparked numerous allegations of misconduct.

In one past case, the midwife was unable to locate the baby's heart rate for an extended time near the end of the labor. According to the patient’s allegations, the midwife didn't call 911 immediately after birth even though the baby was not breathing. Instead of calling 911, the midwife allowed a student midwife try to revive the baby. The student did not have any training or education in neonatal resuscitation. Although the baby was resuscitated after being taken to a local hospital, the newborn sustained severe brain injury due to lack of oxygen during birth.

To read more about these allegations, visit the Concord Monitor.

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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.

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November 22, 2010

New whole-body cooling blanket saves newborn from birth-related brain injuries.

A newborn in California recently received the benefits of an innovative therapy that cools the baby’s body to decrease brain injury. This therapy helps minimize birth-related brain injuries that can cause cerebral palsy, neurological problems and other cognitive delays.

The California newborn had been cut off from oxygen and was beginning to swell after his birth. There is only a small window of opportunity in which the therapy can be beneficiation. Doctors had around six hours to drop the baby’s body temperature to 92.3 degrees, about 6 degrees below normal.

To read more about this newborn’s success with this ground-breaking therapy, please visit The Fresno Bee.

Lower body temperatures have long been known to minimize brain injury. However, doctors have debated about the best method in which to lower a baby’s temperature. Since speed is a critical factor in the therapy’s success, the hospital used a whole-body cooling blanket designed for newborns deprived of oxygen. The blanket system is designed to quickly induce whole-body hypothermia.

A lack of oxygen to the brain causes hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. When this occurs the brain reacts to the lack of oxygen by swelling. The swelling then cuts off blood supply to the brain. As the body tries to protect the brain other organs such as the kidneys and liver can be damaged as well.

It is important to quickly cool the body in order to prevent damage because the swelling in the brain occurs over several hours before the damage becomes permanent. Lowering the body’s temperature lowers the body’s metabolism, hearth rate, and blood pressure. As a result, the swelling in the brain is reduced.

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November 10, 2010

Mother files wrongful death lawsuit over preventable pregnancy complication

A mother in Harris County, Texas has filed suit against the medical center that was caring for her pregnant daughter. In the lawsuit, the mother alleges that her daughter and her unborn grandbaby died as a result of the medical center’s negligence.

The pregnant woman was first sent to the medical center when she was about 37 weeks pregnant. Her Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN) recommended that she go to the medical center because her blood pressure was high. The pregnant woman was soon discharged even though her blood pressure remained high.

A few days later, the pregnant woman returned to the medical center. This time, the pregnant woman was complaining of shortness of breath. She was immediately sent to the emergency room but she remained there for almost three hours without treatment. While she waited in the emergency room, she suffered a life ending cardiac arrest. Although doctors did remove the baby by cesarean-section, the baby did not survive. The baby had suffered from severe lack of oxygen before birth.

It was later discovered that the pregnant woman’s cardio-respiratory arrest was caused by pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH). The lawsuit filed against the medical center further alleges that the emergency room physician failed to properly diagnosis the pregnant woman for this condition.

To read more about this story, please visit the Houston Chronicle.

Although the exact cause of pregnancy-induced hypertension is unknown, there are several risk factors. According to the American Pregnancy Association, first-time mothers, women carrying multiple babies, teenage mothers, and women who have high blood pressure prior to pregnancy are most at risk.

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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.

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August 12, 2010

Jury Awards Birth Injury Victim $510,000

Xzavier Hyman, a four year old child from Staten Island, was recently awarded $510,000 in a Medical Malpractice action against the obstetrician-gynecologist responsible for delivering him.

Xzavier’s mother, Ms. Spicer, was going through a difficult birth so Xzavier’s doctor, Dr. Paul Heltzer, ordered the use of Pitocin, a drug which helps speed up delivery by inducing contractions, to help her along in the birthing process. Pitocin is commonly used for women who are having difficulty delivering their child. However, Dr. Heltzer made the mistake of administering the drug for too long which put stress on Xzavier’s brain, causing three or four strokes and three seizures within 10 hours of his birth.

Xzavier’s attorney’s successfully argued that Ms. Spicer was kept too long on Petocin, and her relentless contractions stressed Xzavier. Additionally, they argued that a Caesarean operation should have been performed several hours before Ms. Spicer gave vaginal birth to Xzavier. If these steps were taken, Xzavier’s injuries could have been avoided.

The delivery, and subsequent stokes and seizures, left Xzavier with permanent injuries. Xzavier still suffers from some speech and fine motor skill deficiencies, the gap in IQ between him and his peers has continued to widen, and his life expectancy was cut approximately six years.

Both Xzavier’s mother and attorney expressed joy that the verdict came down in their favor, but disappointment that the award was not higher. Many birth injury malpractice cases award damages far greater than the $510,000 that Xzavier received. Much of this is based on the ongoing medical bills that a child will face as he ages because of the injury.

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March 15, 2010

Birth Injury Attorneys Announce $38 Million Verdict

According to a press release on Emailwire.com, a family was awarded over $38 million by a jury in a birth injury lawsuit. The press release states that a newborn suffered severe birth injuries after medical practitioners failed to execute a cesarean in a timely manner. As a result of this medical negligence, the newborn sustained an irreversible brain injury. Follow the link to read more about this birth injury verdict.

When medical providers fail to perform c-sections and other interventions during childbirth, in a timely manner, they risk causing serious birth injuries such as birth hypoxia and cerebral palsy. Fetal distress is detectable when an infant’s heart rate is abnormal. If a labor and delivery team suspects fetal distress, they should immediately perform interventions to prevent serious injury. When providers fail to do so, a baby can suffer lifelong injuries or death.

Awards for birth injury cases are often high because they take into consideration both economic and non-economic damages. In most instances, the verdict or settlement will be determined by calculating proven damages, such as past and future medical expenses and loss of potential earnings. They also take into account pain and suffering and loss of normal life, or disability and disfigurement damages. The Chicago birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti have received compensation for families in a number of birth injury cases, including a $6.71 million Cook County birth injury verdict for a child who suffered a serious brachial plexus injury. If you believe that your child has suffered a birth injury as a result of a medical provider’s negligence, please contact us to discuss your potential claim.

November 9, 2009

$25 Million Verdict Awarded for Botched Birth in Cook County Medical Malpractice Trial

A $25 million jury verdict was recently awarded in a Cook County medical malpractice trial to a Chicago boy who suffers from cerebral palsy resulting from his botched birth eight years ago. Payton White was deprived of oxygen during his birth at Northwestern Memorial Hospital back in August of 2001. This caused severe brain damage which in turn led to him developing cerebral palsy. The verdict ensures that Payton will receive the extensive care and treatment that he is likely to require throughout his life.

Click on the following link for more information about this Cook County cerebral palsy verdict.

October 30, 2009

Family Receives $77.4 Million Settlement for Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

A settlement totaling $77,418,670 was recently reached with St. John’s Riverside Hospital for the family of a three-year-old boy who developed cerebral palsy due to unnecessary delays during birth. The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the hospital, and the obstetrician/genecologist who delivered the baby, failed to perform an emergency c-section despite the presence of signs that indicated that the baby was suffering from oxygen deprivation. Instead, the doctor opted for a vaginal delivery, which was alleged to have been initiated almost an hour later.

Click on the following link for more information about this $77 Million cerebral palsy settlement.

July 21, 2009

Birth Injury Case Settled

Jacksonville Naval Hospital reached a $500,000 settlement yesterday with a family whose son died after a birth injury. Kendra Alcorn gave birth to twins in 2005; the first birth went well, but the second baby suffered from lack of oxygen. Lack of oxygen is a serious birth injury and it caused the child to go blind and have cerebral palsy. The child has since passed away from the birth injury. To read the entire article click here on “Birth Injury Case Settled

July 7, 2009

Record Settlement in Birth Injury Case

In December of 2000, a woman’s uterus burst during labor caused a birth injury. The mother’s body no longer could provide oxygen for the child, who went 18-20 minutes without oxygen. The birth injury caused permanent brain damage. There was a $31 million dollar verdict for the birth injury when the case was brought to court, the most in Ohio history, but they have settled out of court for what is believed to be less money. For more information on “Record Settlement in Birth Injury Case” click here.

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 28, 2009

Doctors’ Practice of Clamping Umbilical Cord Too Soon May Cause Brain Damage, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism

Before birth, a baby’s lungs are filled with fluid and very little oxygen flows through them. Instead, it receives oxygen through the placenta and umbilical cord. When an infant is born, a burst of oxygen-rich blood is delivered to him or her by a pulsation of the placenta and umbilical cord until its lungs are working and supplying oxygen on their own. This surge of blood is necessary in order for the newborn’s lungs to adequately expand and supply the brain with the oxygen it needs. Without it, the baby’s lungs fail to function adequately, causing his or her blood pressure to drop. This in turn can lead to oxygen deprivation and result in lung and brain damage.

In as little as 5 minutes after birth, the umbilical cord naturally begins to clamp, halting this blood flow. The common practice of hospitals, however, is to immediately place a clamp on the cord, usually within 1 minute, and often within 30 seconds, following the baby’s birth. This deprives the baby of a continuous source of oxygen until the lungs begin functioning properly. In addition to injuring the baby’s lungs, this lack of oxygen can cause serious brain damage, leading to birth injuries such as cerebral palsy, autism, learning disorders and mental deficiency.

Click here for information about a study into the dangers of premature cord clamping and for more information about umbilical cord clamping birth injuries.

March 11, 2009

Programs to Reduce C-Section Delays and Prevent Birth Injuries

When it comes to babies who are deprived of oxygen during birth, every second counts. Delays in the performance of c-sections can cause serious injuries to oxygen-deprived babies, such as brain damage and cerebral palsy. Hospitals and doctors can significantly reduce the length of c-section delays, however, by implementing quality improvement programs by doctors and hospitals, according to a new study published in this month’s issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In particular, the study found that, after 2 years of following such a program, the number of emergency c-sections that were delayed for over 30 minutes was reduced by up to 30% in some situations. These findings suggest that many devastating birth injuries could be prevented if hospitals and doctors simply implemented programs to address the delays.

Click the following link for more information about the quality improvement program study and its findings.

March 6, 2009

Cool New Therapy Reduces Brain Damage in Oxygen-Deprived Infants

Babies who are deprived of oxygen for any significant period of time during birth have a very high risk of suffering permanent brain damage. This risk of birth injury has shown to be reduced, however, by a new therapy that is pretty cool, literally. The therapy, called induced hypothermia, involves placing an infant on a cooling blanket within 6 hours of its birth for a period of 3 days, bringing its temperature down from the normal 98.6 degrees to about 92 degrees. Research shows that, while the therapy may not completely prevent brain damage, babies suffering from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), or birth hypoxia and asphyxia, that receive the treatment have a greater chance of survival and the extent of their brain damage from oxygen deprivation is reduced.

Read more about this new cooling therapy here.

February 27, 2009

Breakthrough Scientific Discovery: New Compounds May Prevent Cerebral Palsy

Scientists at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., have developed two compounds that may be effective in protecting against cerebral palsy. The findings from their experiments with rabbits suggest that the compounds may have prevented the development of the disorder, which would have otherwise developed, following a lack of oxygen to the fetus. Notably, all of the fetuses born to mother rabbits that were treated with the compounds survived, whereas, over half of those without treatment died. Perhaps most impressive is that 83% of the animals treated with one of the compounds were born without any characteristics of cerebral palsy at all. More testing is necessary before they can conclude that the compounds will work to prevent birth injuries in humans, but these findings bring hope that infants subjected to birth hypoxia, such as those who suffer umbilical cord compression during labor, need not suffer permanent brain damage.

Read more about this exciting cerebral palsy prevention breakthrough in an article published by US News & World Report.

February 26, 2009

The Risks of Natural Birth Following Previous C-Sections

There are serious risks, both to the mother and her baby, when having a “natural birth” after having delivered an earlier child by c-section. The procedure, known as vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC, for short), has been shown to cause serious injuries. For instance, there is a risk of the mother suffering a uterine rupture, which can be fatal to both her and her baby. There is also a chance that the VBAC will cause the baby to suffer oxygen deprivation (or birth hypoxia), leading to brain damage and cerebral palsy. These risks are compounded by doctors’ errors such as hesitation to perform the delivery or delaying a c-section. Recognizing that the decision to proceed with a VBAC may cause these birth injuries, and potentially be grounds for pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit, many doctors are now refusing to perform them, opting instead for another c-section delivery.

Read more about the risks of VBACS, and the difficulties of finding doctors willing to perform them, in an article by Time Magazine.

February 16, 2009

$4.4 Million Cerebral Palsy Verdict

Last Friday, a jury in a medical malpractice trial awarded $4.4 million to the parents of a child who suffered a severe brain injury at birth. Three days before her scheduled induction, the mother went to the hospital with nausea and vomiting. A fetal heart monitor showed that the baby was in dire stress and in need of an emergency c-section but a nurse misread the data. This delay lead to prolonged oxygen deprivation, causing her daughter to suffer severe brain damage and later develop cerebral palsy. She died a year ago, at the age of less than 4 and a half, of complications from the disorder.

Read more about this birth injury trial here.

February 13, 2009

Umbilical Cord Compression

The umbilical cord delivers oxygen-rich blood to the fetus. During labor, the cord can become stretched or compressed, interrupting this vital flow. Umbilical cord compression is a relatively common condition, occurring about once every ten deliveries, and often transpires when the cord becomes caught between the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvic bone or when it becomes wrapped around the baby’s neck. Once this happens, the blood flow is interrupted and the level of oxygen that the baby receives begins to decrease. If the baby is deprived of oxygen for a significant amount of time, a condition called hypoxia, it can develop severe injuries including brain damage, cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, or developmental delays. Fortunately, this deprivation is detectable. The diminished blood flow can cause short and sudden decreases in the baby’s heart rate, which become visible on a fetal heart rate monitor. Often times, when this is detected, simply administered oxygen to the woman to increase the amount available to the baby is sufficient. In some cases, however, if the baby’s oxygen level is extremely low or if it begins showing other signs of distress, it is necessary to deliver the baby as soon as possible and the doctor may have to perform an emergency c-section. Under these circumstances, time is essential. Mistakes and carelessness by doctors and nurses that delay the operation amount to medical malpractice and can cause permanent brain damage to the baby.

November 21, 2008

Cerebral Palsy Malpractice Lawsuit Results in $20.5 Million Verdict

A jury awarded a child with cerebral palsy $20.5 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed as a result of mistakes that occurred at the time of the child’s birth. The case involved the June 2001 birth of a boy who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The family alleged that the disability was caused by damage to the brain during a four hour delay in his delivery. The medical malpractice lawsuit states that after the mother arrived at the Community Medical Center she was hooked up to a fetal monitoring system which demonstrated that the baby was in distress, yet the doctor did not arrive to deliver the child for approximately two hours, and even after his arrival, attempts were made to induce labor instead of doing an emergency caesarean section. Cerebral palsy is a motor disability which is caused by brain damage that can occur before, during or immediately after birth. The family successfully argued that the doctor and hospital’s failure to do an immediate c-section resulted in a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain, which resulted in the permanent brain damage. Cerebral palsy is a motor disability which is caused by brain damage that can occur before, during or immediately after birth. The family was able to successfully argue that the doctor and hospital’s failure to do an immediate c-section resulted in a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain, which resulted in the permanent brain damage. The boy is now 7 years old, requires 24 hour care, is unable to use his hands, is mentally retarded, blind and functions at the level of a 9 month old. The cerebral palsy malpractice lawsuit awarded the family $2 million for past expenses incurred by the parents and $18.5 million for the child’s pain and suffering, lost earning capacity and future medical expenses. To read the full story, click here.

November 19, 2008

Family Awarded $20.5 Million in Birth Injury Case

A jury has awarded $20.5 million in a medical malpractice suit to the family of a child with lasting medical problems caused by mistakes made at his birth. The judge stated that it was the largest award in a medical malpractice case in his 10 years on the bench. The jury found the doctor and hospital negligent in their treatment of the child's mother during the delivery.

A fetal monitoring system indicated that the baby was in distress so the hospital called the doctor but he did not show up for two hours. During this delay, the baby was deprived of oxygen. After the doctor arrived, rather than performing an emergency c-section, he decided to induce labor, which forced the baby to remain oxygen-deprived. When it finally became clear to the doctor that the baby had to be removed, it was too late. The delayed c-section was finally performed nearly four hours after the mother had arrived at the hospital, after the baby had already suffered permanent brain damage. The baby was born with cerebral palsy. He is almost completely blind, has no use of his hands, has severe mental retardation. The boy is now 7 but, because of his birth injury, he functions at the level of a 6 to 9-month old.

The family will receive $2 million health care expenses and related costs. The child was awarded $18.5 million, which he will receive upon turning 18, for lost earning capacity, pain and suffering and medical expenses. Almost all of the money will be used for his care, since he will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

To read the full story, click here.

October 27, 2008

Birth Complications and Hypoxia Associated with Increased Risk of Schizophrenia

A new study published in the November 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry concludes that complications during pregnancy and birth hypoxia, a shortage of oxygen to the baby’s brain which can result from delays in delivery, are associated with an increased risk for schizophrenia. The study specifically finds that people who later develop schizophrenia are more likely to have decreased levels of neuroprotective protein – brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an indicator of fetal distress resulting from birth hypoxia. The study’s authors are hopeful that their findings, which will require further testing, may someday lead to preventative intervention and at-birth identification of individuals at high-risk of developing the condition.

For the full story, click here.

October 24, 2008

Jury Awards $11.4 Million for Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury

A Wisconsin jury awarded $11.4 million to the parents of a child born with Cerebral Palsy, and found a nurse and midwife at Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center negligent in the child’s delivery, causing the brain damage. The lawsuit alleged that the baby was deprived of oxygen due to a delay in his delivery and that the mother was administered the drug Pitocin in frequent and increased dosages without a physician’s order, in violation of hospital policy, which caused additional stress to the fetus and an abnormal contraction pattern.

The child suffers from Cerebral Palsy and other permanent personal injuries. He is not expected to ever walk or talk and requires a feeding tube. The parents state that, while the jury award cannot give their child a normal life, it will help them to provide the therapy, treatment, and accommodations that their son will need throughout his life.
For the full story, click here.

October 10, 2008

Jury Awards $4.25 Million in Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Lawsuit

A jury found a hospital liable for medical malpractice and awarded $4.25 million to the family of a girl who, after a traumatic birth, was born with Cerebral Palsy and brain damage. The baby’s heart rate began to drop while the mother was lying in a hospital bed but the doctor had gone home for dinner. By the time another doctor arrived and performed an emergency Cesarean Section, the baby had been deprived of oxygen for 20 minutes.

The jury found that the hospital ignored signs of fetal distress, failed to notify a doctor in time to perform a timely emergency C-Section, and that this delay caused the child’s injuries.

The jury awarded compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost future earnings and pain and suffering.

For the full story, click here.