Articles Posted in Lack of Oxygen to Fetus

Birth Asphyxia

3 Types of Asphyxia Related Childbirth Injuries

Some of the most traumatic injuries that arise during childbirth are those that affect the baby’s brain. Asphyxia is an irreversible event that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen for an extended time prenatally, intrapartum, or postnatally and results in abnormal neurologic function in a newborn. The harm can be incredibly debilitating and impact the child’s suffering for the remainder of their life.

When medical provider negligence is involved in a childbirth-related injury, it is likely due to a failure to monitor the fetus and respond to distress or diagnose a potential delivery issue. Many birth injury lawsuits have been filed because of these unfortunate labor and delivery events.

10 years ago this January, twin Sarah Butler was born at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, Ontario to Jaye Butler. Her twin brother was delivered healthy and free of complications several minutes prior. To encourage speedy delivery of Sarah, nurses at the hospital stripped Jaye Butler’s membranes, causing the amniotic fluid to drain out so rapidly that Sarah was left weighing down on her own umbilical cord. The pressure on her cord caused her to lose oxygen to her brain and develop cerebral palsy. The hospital records were falsified to read that her mother’s amniotic sac had spontaneously ruptured and that Sarah was delivered via C-Section shortly thereafter.

A Coverup, The Truth, And More Denials

The Butlers were aware that something just didn’t add up. The year their twins were born, the family pressed the hospital on the circumstances surrounding Sarah’s birth injury. According to the family, the hospital admitted that nurses had pushed Sarah’s birth along by stripping Jaye’s membranes. When the family decided to file a lawsuit, the hospital reverted back to the false report they had on file and claimed that Jaye’s membranes ruptured on their own. The hospital maintained that its staff had acted according to the standard of care and that Sarah was in distress, causing an emergency C-Section. In reality, the hospital was forced to deliver Sarah via Caesarean because she was quickly losing oxygen due to compression of her umbilical cord.

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.

Recent updates to guidelines issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise physicians to conduct extensive examinations on babies born with brain injuries, or neonatal encephalopathy. According to a report on the Health Day website, the two groups have determined that, by pinpointing the causes of brain injury, physicians can prevent further complications and create new techniques for prevention. The previous recommendations were presented in 2003, directing doctors to place their focus on the possible lack of oxygen to the brain during delivery. The new guidelines are extending those recommendations to include other details of the delivery, as well as the mother’s physical condition.

Loss of oxygen is reportedly a common cause of newborn brain injury, but the causes can begin before labor even starts. According to the report, there are several possible causes for these injuries:

Metabolic Disorders

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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