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The birth of a baby should be a joyful time for the new mother and her family. However, sometimes, complications can occur during the childbirth process that injures the baby or mother. When this happens, it’s important to know what caused the problem and if anything could have prevented it. Sometimes, a doctor’s negligence causes these issues, in which case, it’s important to take legal action. Read on to learn more about a common childbirth error, how they occur, and what you can do if you or someone you know if a victim.
What Is a Childbirth Error?
A birth injury is any type of harm or trauma that occurs during the birth of a baby. Though birth injuries usually apply to the newborn, mothers can be injured during the birthing process as well. In many cases, birth injuries are minor and heal quickly. However, sometimes, they can lead to permanent damage or lifelong disability.
What Are the Signs That Your Newborn Is Injured?
In many cases, you’ll be able to see symptoms of an injury shortly after birth. Things to watch out for include paleness or a blueish hue to the skin, slow breathing or heart rate, feeding difficulty, odd or jerky movements, low APGAR scores, or abnormal reflexes. These concerns should be carefully observed by the parents and immediately brought to the attention of a physician.
Sometimes, the symptoms of a birth injury aren’t apparent until a child gets a little older. Learning disabilities, behavioral problems, motor impairments, seizure disorders, and vision or hearing problems can all stem from a birth injury. If you suspect any of these issues, it’s important to have them carefully evaluated by a medical professional.
What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?
Your newborn may receive one of the following diagnoses, which are usually the result of a childbirth error:
- Cerebral Palsy – Also known as CP, cerebral palsy is a group of disorders characterized by muscle tightness or spasticity, motor problems, balance problems, or abnormal, uncontrollable movements. All of these issues are caused by damage to the brain. It’s thought that somewhere around 20% of all cerebral palsy cases are caused by medical malpractice that occurs during or shortly after birth.
- Facial Paralysis – When a doctor uses too much force when removing the baby from the birth canal, nerve damage can occur. This can result in the baby not being able to move one side of their face or close their eye. This may go away after a short period, but it can also cause permanent issues.
- Oxygen Deprivation – When a newborn is deprived of oxygen, even for a very short period, it can lead to lasting brain damage, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, developmental delay, or intellectual disabilities. Oxygen deprivation commonly occurs when the newborn stays in the birth canal for too long or has umbilical cord problems.
- Spinal Cord Injuries – These are some of the most serious of birth injuries, resulting in paralysis or neurological damage. Sometimes, when doctors use too much force during the birthing process, capital cord injuries occur.
What Causes Birth Injury?
Sometimes, a childbirth error is completely unavoidable. For example, if the baby is large, is not born headfirst, or is born prematurely, birth injuries occur more commonly. In some cases like these, no one is at fault for the injury. But more often than not, physicians can prevent birth injuries by taking the right precautions and using preventative measures. It’s important that doctors and nurses carefully monitor the mother and the newborn’s health. Then, promptly address any suspected problems that may arise during the delivery of the baby. If at any point during the pregnancy, labor, or delivery of a baby a medical professional fails to follow the standards of care, and this results in an injury to the mother or baby, they have committed medical malpractice.
While the use of forceps and vacuum are both common tools used to assist the birthing problem, when they are used incorrectly or with excessive force, the can cause injuries like swelling or bruising on the face or head, bleeding beneath one of the baby’s cranial bones, nerve damage, or bone fractures. It’s important to note any symptoms as soon as you notice them.
What Steps Should You Take Next?
When a doctor overlooks an issue, your child might have to pay for their error for the rest of their lives. If you notice any signs or symptoms of a birth injury, it’s important to document everything. This includes initial symptoms, any changes that take place, and what the doctor does to treat them. Get as much as you can in writing. It may be wise to get a second opinion from another doctor to confirm any suspicions you may have about medical malpractice.
It’s also important to gather as much medical data as you can before starting a medical malpractice case. Equally important is getting your child the care they need as soon as possible. While the settlement from a medical malpractice case can help pay for treatment, settlements take a while. Thus, you should never wait to treat your child. In addition, never sign any waivers or documents from the hospital without talking to an attorney first, as this can be used against you in court.
To prove medical malpractice, you must prove that the defendant was responsible and that they breached the required care. Though these types of lawsuits rarely settle quickly, they help prevent the doctor from making the same mistake again.
Find an Attorney You Trust If You Experience a Childbirth Error
When looking for an attorney to handle your birth injury medical malpractice case, seek out a firm that has the experience and knowledge. The team at Weltchek Mallahan & Weltchek specializes in medical malpractice to help you, your child, and your family. Contact us for more information.
Who Can You Trust with Your Case?
Have you or a loved one been injured due to negligence? We want to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you believe you have a case; time is an important factor. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us so we can better evaluate and serve your needs in getting the justice your loved one deserves. You may very well be entitled to compensation.
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