How Medical Malpractice & Birth Injuries Relate
We’ve detailed how medical malpractice impacts individuals, causes significant harm, and leaves victims dealing with the some of the most severe injuries and conditions. Medical malpractice can affect multiple victims, regardless of age.
As such, there are actions considered to be medical malpractice that can cause harm to even the youngest of victims, such as a fetus. This is because there are things that can be dangers to mothers who are expecting.
Birth injuries may be considered a part of medical malpractice and the damage may be sustained by either child or mother. Understanding how these two go hand-in-hand is important in making sure you recognize your rights should you or your child get hurt as a result of negligence.
Our team explains the types of injuries that can occur, how medical malpractice comes into play, what causes these errors, and what can be done by the victims to seek compensation and seek justice for the reckless action of a medical professional.
What Is Birth Injury?
Birth injury is any harm caused to a mother or child during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. It can occur in a number of ways, typically caused by the obstetrician gynecologist, nurse, or any other party responsible for the care of a pregnant patient.
In terms of legalities, birth injury cases are complex, prompting a number of pieces of evidence to be produced in order to show it was in fact the actions of the medical professional that caused the damage to the mother or child.
There are some conditions a child may be born with simply because of genetics. These won’t be able to be tracked back to the medical professional. However, if there was negligence involved, there may be legal action pursued by the mother of the child or the mother for her injuries.
How Does Birth Injury Occur?
There are a number of different things that can impact a mother or child during pregnancy or birth. Understanding how these injuries can occur may help with legal action, or with the long-term damages that may arise. Here are some of the common causes of birth injuries:
- Failure to properly monitor pregnancy: There are tests that doctors should perform including checking for heart rate of the fetus. If this isn’t properly done, it can impact the health of the child when action is not taken to improve a situation.
- Improper use of forceps: During the delivery process, some complications may arise that impact how the child is birthed. Some doctors may try to use forceps to help move the birth along. If they’re not used correctly, they can cause damage to the child’s brain.
- Improper use of vacuum extraction: Medical professionals have access to a number of resources, including a vacuum extractor that can be used to help during the birthing process. This can also cause brain injuries to the child.
- Prolonged delivery: When a mother goes into labor, they must be on monitors and every step should be taken to ensure a smooth delivery. If delivery is delayed, it can cause serious problems for both mother and child.
What Injuries Can Be Sustained?
Birth injuries vary by severity and cause, but there are a number that can occur due to the error of an obstetrician. The most common are those resulting in damage to the brain, muscles, or development.
In the womb, a child may experience a prolapsed umbilical cord or an umbilical cord strangulation which can cut off oxygen to the child’s brain. When deprived of oxygen, brain ischemia can occur, which drains blood from the brain.
The most common brain injury that occurs is cerebral palsy, impacting roughly 800,000 children. This condition is caused by maternal infections, oxygen deprivation, infant infection, or infant stroke. Many cases of cerebral palsy can be prevented with proper physician care.
Muscle and Bodily Injuries
Muscle-related physical injuries are often easier to diagnose than the brain injuries because simple evaluation can determine the exact location of the injury and cause of issue. These are the common physical injury as a result of negligence.
- Brachial plexus: This occurs when there is an injury to the upper part of the arm and the child typically displays weakness in the injured arm, or inability to use the specific arm. It may feel as though there is a burning sensation in the arm.
- Klumpke’s Palsy: This is similar to brachial plexus, but it results in damage to the lower nerves of the arm including the forearm, wrist, and fingers. Typically, this causes paralysis of the affected area.
- Erb’s Palsy: Erb’s Palsy impacts the arm as a form of brachial plexus. Infants may have total paralysis in the affected arm in the most severe situations and the arm may be weaker than the other arm.
- Shoulder dystocia: This is an injury that occurs if the child’s head and shoulders are stuck behind the pelvic bone during the birthing process. It doesn’t occur often, but if it does, it can cause the baby to have difficulty with breathing and lead to other physical conditions.
Who Is Responsible for Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries are quite often the result of negligence on behalf of the obstetrician for a number of reasons. It’s an unfortunate situation; a person you trust causing you harm when you need their guidance and assistance the most.
During the pregnancy, the obstetrician may not properly perform the care needed to monitor the fetus for any potential dangers. This may lead to issues with the umbilical cord, impact the amount of oxygen the child receives, or even leave the mother or child susceptible to infection.
During labor, if the mother is allowed to remain in labor too long, it can cause serious harm to the child. The doctor may also miss the opportunity to perform an emergency cesarean section that would help the child and mother in the event of an issue.
During delivery, certain decisions may also be dangerous for mother and child such as waiting to perform a C-section, improper use of forceps, and improper use of vacuum extractor. These are all commonly used procedures, but if not done properly, they can harm the child or mother.
What Can Be Done to Help the Injured Child or Mother?
Regardless of the party injured, if negligence came into play, it’s important to take legal action. This can be done by the mother of the child injured, the mother for her own injuries, or the family of the mother or child if one was lost as a result of the injuries.
It’s an unfortunate case, but injury or death can occur. In which case, there are legal actions that can be taken to not only seek compensation for the damages sustained, but also seek justice. This is why it’s important to reach out and hire a legal advocate to stand by your side.
The Beasley Firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of injury victims, no matter the age. Birth injuries can be complex—but even more so, they can be traumatic. Anyone impacted deserves the right to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.
Our Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys work hard to guide our clients through one of life’s most difficult times. This is supposed to be a joyous occasion. When it’s turned into a critical situation, we stand up for those who need us the most.
To discuss your potential case and learn how we may be able to help, call us today at (215) 866-2424 and request your free consultation.