ChildBirth Injury

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Childbirth injury is the damage that is caused to the baby and/or the mother during labor or the delivery process. The injury can be related to maternal or fetal health and the size and position of the baby during labor and delivery.  A physician may have failed to use the degree of skill and care reasonably required by a medical professional under similar circumstances during the labor and delivery process.  He may have negligently failed to adequately respond to the maternal or fetal bleeding, fetal distress or anoxia (lack of oxygen), umbilical cord complications, the need for a emergency cesarean section, infections, the anticipation of a large baby and related complications, and other maternal health complications.

Types of Birth Delivery Injuries

  • Caput succedaneum is one of the types of birth injuries that adversely affect the newborn’s head.  There is a severe swelling and/ or bruising of a baby’s scalp that usually disappears within one to two weeks. Traumatic vacuum extraction medical procedures are most likely to cause this type of head injury at birth. 
  • Cephalohematoma another birth injury to the newborn’s head and it is usually temporary.   Cephalohematoma occurs when there is bleeding beneath one of the cranial bones in the baby’s head. If that bleeding is extensive it can cause jaundice in a newborn child.
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage is an injury that causes small blood vessels in a baby’s eye to break but does not do any permanent damage to the child’s eyes. This birth injury is generally resolved without intervention or complication after one to two weeks.
  • Facial paralysis affects a newborn’s face and occurs when excessive pressure is forced on the baby’s face during delivery and may require surgery to correct.
  • Brachial plexus palsy is an injury that may require surgery to correct.  This injury occurs during shoulder dystocia and can in paralysis of the child’s upper arms. It can result in a permanent injury and lifetime disability.
  • Birth fractures are a common result of clumsy physician assistance during the birth and labor process.  The most common fractures that can occur are of the child’s clavicle or collarbone and usually happen when there should have been an emergency C-section because the mother is too small to deliver a large fetal head and body.   Immediate treatment is required for these types of birth fracture injuries.
  • Forceps lacerations and bruising is yet another instance where the unskilled and unnecessarily forceful use of medical instruments can result in severe head injury to the newborn during the delivery and labor process.
  • Erb’s Palsy or cerebral palsy is one of the most serious types of injuries that a child can suffer as a result of the birth and labor process. There are many factors that can contribute to this type of injury but it is essentially a severe brain injury that results in impaired motor functioning and other chronic physical and cognitive impairments.

Childbirth Injury Liability

Childbirth injury and birth injury resulting in fetal death are common causes for physician liability resulting in medical malpractice cases.   Such cases are usually filed as wrongful death cases arising due to acts of medical malpractice by the physician, nursing staff, delivery room staff and hospital facility.  A wrongful death action can in some States only be brought where the fetus died during or soon after the birth.  A fetus that died in utero is often not considered separate from the mother.

This issue arises in one of two ways: (1) the fetus dies because the mother had died, or (2) the mother survives or is unharmed but the fetus sustains injuries which lead to its death either in utero or at the time of its delivery. In these situations, the question arises as to whether there is a distinct claim for the wrongful death of the fetus which is separate from any claim involving injuries to or the death of the mother.  With the inevitable grief and emotion loss the family has suffered in this very severe type of medical malpractice situation it is only reasonable for the family to seek out the assistance of legal counsel to sort out the best plan of going forward addressing this kind of complicated claim. 

Filing a Lawsuit for Childbirth Injuries

If your child suffered an injury before, during or soon after his or her birth and you suspect that the injury was due to medical malpractice or negligent actions of any of the nurses or other medical persons assisting the birth it would be important to speak with a medical malpractice attorney to determine if you have a valid case against that physician or health care facility.  Compensation to assist with coping with the costs of a lifetime injury will help to insure that the infant is given the best chance to recover and enjoy a happy and healthy lifetime.

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