Articles Posted in C-Section Delay

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After a healthy pregnancy, the parents of baby Earl Reese-Thornton, Jr. expected to leave North Shore Medical Center in Miami, Florida after the delivery of a healthy baby boy in December 2013. Instead they are facing the heartbreaking reality that all of their lives have been forever changed by a doctor’s incompetence during delivery. During the 90 minutes before Earl was finally born, Dr. Ata Atogho forced a vaginal delivery by administering pitocin (a labor inducing drug), despite the fact that his mother’s stalled labor was causing the baby distress and called for an emergency C-Section. Instead, Dr. Atogho left Earl’s mother, Marla Dixon, laboring while he delivered another baby and carried on a phone call with his investment advisor. When Earl was finally born, it was clear he had suffered brain damage from lack of oxygen and required resuscitation.

Falsifying Documents and Government Responsibility

Dr. Atogho documented in Ms. Dixon’s chart that he offered her a C-Section and that she refused. Ms. Dixon stated that Dr. Atogho had never mentioned the possibility of a C-Section and that she had even asked for one and was denied, a story which the labor and delivery nurse at Ms. Dixon’s beside corroborated.

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Did you know that roughly 7 out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States is born with a birth injury. Many of these birth injuries are unpredictable. What appears to be a happy and healthy fetus may result in pregnancy complications, negligence at the hands of others, or illness. However, one factor that is a recurring theme in birth injuries is weight.

The weight of the mother often serves as a good predictor of likelihood of a birth injury. Obesity and BMIs of greater than 40 are commonly connected with birth injuries. Often times, obese mothers do not get the right vitamins, nutrients, and exercise to remain healthy and develop strong, healthy babies. In addition, obese mothers experience higher frequencies of induction of labor. This results in higher rates of instrumental deliveries in obese women. Instrumental deliveries may include, for instance, the obstetrician using forceps or a vacuum to aid in delivery. By applying instruments and force, the risk of birth injury due to negligence increases tenfold.

C-Section Problems

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A story last month from the Oregonian discusses a high-profile birth injury case filed by a hospital following a traumatic birth that left a child severely injured. The issues present in this case are similar to those faced by families in our areas.

The Situation

The story notes that the mother in the case knew early on that her son was in the “breech-birth” position. That is when the child is positioned in the womb to be delivered feet first, instead of head first. The feet first alignment is far more dangerous that the traditional head first delivery. As a result, mothers in that position most often deliver via Cesarean section. That is what was planned in this case as the mother already had a C-section scheduled.

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As we have previously discussed, determining when a delivery should proceed through a vaginal birth or Cesarean section-either planned or emergency-is one of the most critical decisions that must be made by an expectant mother and her medical team. C-section rates in the United States are currently approximately 31%, indicating that doctors are increasingly taking a cautious approach to avoid the risks to a mother and baby that may result from a vaginal birth.

Risks from a C-section

However, although they are currently the most common surgical procedure performed in the United States, C-sections still present certain risks, which can increase significantly with each repeat C-section. For some women, repeat C-sections can result in a weakened uterine wall, which may cause problems in later pregnancies; complications with the placenta in later pregnancies, such as placenta accreta or placenta previa, which can lead to hemorrhaging by the mother or require early delivery of the baby and resultant issues; or injuries to the bladder. In extreme cases, a C-section may result in heavy bleeding that can be controlled only through a hysterectomy. Moreover, because doctors generally advise that a woman have no more than three C-sections, a C-section may impact the number of children that a couple can have. Expectant mothers should therefore be comfortable that the risks of proceeding with a vaginal delivery outweigh the risks of the C-section itself.

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The Morning Call reported earlier this month on the end of a trial in a birth injury case. The matter went all the way to the jury which eventually returned a verdict for the plaintiff. As a result, a mother and her daughter–born with cerebral palsy–was awarded $4 million. The facts of the case are somewhat similar to many that our attorneys have seen over the years, with negligence of the same type affecting families in Chicago and Illinois.

The Case

Per the details outlined in the story, the birth in question occurred over four years ago. The mother went into labor in August of 2009, but during the middle the labor stalled. The baby was quite large, a fact that was the doctor and other members of the medical team. In fact, an ultrasound taken just days before the birth revealed that the child weighed 10 pounds–that is an incredible amount for a birth.

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If you happened to search Google over the last week for any phrase including “birth” or “childbirth,” your results were likely overwhelmed by one story: the birth of baby George in England. The child, born to Kate Middleton and Prince William has the official name Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. He is now third in line to the British throne. Of course, the royal family has attained celebrity status in the United States and throughout the world, and news of his birth was following closely by billions of people.

But believe it or not, the royal birth is also being used for something besides Facebook-fodder. An Inquisitr article last week discussed the cost of baby George’s birth and compared it with the same procedures here in the United State. The difference is staggering and a reminder of the persistent pricing problems for medical care in America.

Cost of Childbirth

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The variety of medical malpractice cases is more extensive than most imagine. Considering the total number of births that occur each year, many somewhat unique cases of mistakes, confusion, and preventable harm will occur. That is not to say that there are not clear legal trends when it comes to types of malpractice that lead to lawsuits and accountability. For example, delayed C-sections and use of excessive force are likely the two types of professional negligence that most often lead to the filing of an actual birth injury lawsuit. That is probably because those injuries are the most common, can often be proven in court, and come with significant consequences for those affected requiring compensation

Unique Birthing Malpractice

While excessive force and oxygen deprivation resulting in the development of cerebral palsy are the birth injuries that often make-up newspaper headlines and blog posts–there are others.

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It has long been known that the health of the mother during a pregnancy can affect the development of the child and it’s ultimate well-being after birth. After all, careful analysis of eating habits, ordered bed rest, and other common treatments for mothers during pregnancy are all geared toward ensuring her safety and as well as that of the new life growing inside of her. New research is now finding that even more wide-ranging support to mothers during pregnancy may have very strong effects on the health of the child. The data may eventually change the way public support is provided to these women in order to improve health and save costs down the road.

The Benefits Comprehensive Prenatal Care

The latest research effort was summarized in a KSTP News story this week. Researchers examined the effect that increased physical, emotional, and educational support had on childbirth. In this way, the research took a look at the possible benefits of more wide-ranging support–not just bodily treatments (i.e. watching one’s diet). In total, the study suggests that this comprehensive support for mothers may go a long way to ensuring healthier babies are born and less medical care (and cost) is needed down the road.

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Cerebral palsy is probably the most well-known injury that is often connected to medical negligence during childbirth. Cerebral palsy itself is quite varied, referring to many different kinds of mobility and cognitive challenges. The causes of CP are similarly varied. Sometimes it arises through the fault of no one. Yet, the fact remains that certain misconduct by medical professionals often causes the harm which affects the child for the rest of their lives.

A few different types of errors are seen time and again in legal cases alleging misconduct causing cerebral palsy. One of those cases which recently settled seems to implicate many of the most common errors at once. According to reports on the incident, the lawsuit was recently settled for $2.3 million. Allegations in the case alleged a delayed C-section, trauma from a vacuum extraction, and the ill-advised use of the labor inducement drug Pitocin. Each of these three concerns are commonly at the root of lawsuits where cerebral palsy developed as a result of medical negligence.

The Med Mal Birth Injury Case

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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?