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Are Birth Injury Numbers Higher at Military Hospitals?

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

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

Types of Birth Injuries

Birth related injuries may involve the mother, the infant or both. According to the Merck Manual Home Health Handbook, some of the most common birth injuries are as follows:

***Injuries to the head – A baby’s head can be injured while moving through the birth canal, due to the level of pressure it sustains. These head injuries can become serious, causing a lifetime of disability or mild, correcting themselves in a short period of time.

***Blood may collect within the outer limits of the skull, causing a hematoma. These often subside within the first month of life
***The bones of the skull may fracture, bit this a rare occurrence.

***When blood vessels rupture in the brain, bleeding can occur. This can happen as a result of skull deformation during delivery. This condition is most common among premature infants.

***Nerve Injuries are rare, but their occurrence commonly results from the use of forceps during the delivery. The instrument can push on the baby’s facial nerves, making the face appear asymmetric.

***Perinatal Aphyxia occurs when there is a lack of oxygen in the newborn’s blood. There are numerous causes for this condition, including:

***Genetic Abnormalities

***Certain drug exposures in pregnancy

***Pressure on the umbilical cord

***Quick loss of blood

According to the CBS News report, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an investigation of all military hospitals, as a result of recent reports over Veterans Administration standards of care.

If you or a family member has experienced a birth injury, call an experienced attorney for a free consultation.