BIKLaw Medical Malpractice Lawyer > Birth Injury Guide

What Happens After
a Birth Injury?

Pursuing Your Case With a Birth Injury Attorney

Has your child suffered a birth injury? Did problems occur during childbirth that the doctor or nurses should have foreseen? If your child suffered a birth injury that was caused by medical malpractice, you might be able to file a birth injury lawsuit against the responsible party.

A birth injury attorney will help you get your claim underway, gather supporting evidence, and determine how your situation could have been avoided.

What Is a Birth Injury?

A birth injury can result from a variety of different reasons, the most common of which are:

1.Physical pressure exerted on the baby during childbirth
2.A lack of oxygen to the baby during childbirth

Injuries caused by excessive physical pressure usually occur as the infant makes his or her way through the birth canal. While minor injuries are common during delivery, more severe injuries, such as broken bones or damaged nerves, including brachial plexus injuries, can affect a child for years to come.

Similarly, when a baby does not receive sufficient oxygen during the birthing process, that “hypoxia” or lack of oxygen can cause wide ranging cognitive and physical injuries, including cerebral palsy, muscle or skeletal problems, other cognitive defects, or more generally, anoxic or hypoxic encephalopathy.

There are many causes, but birth injuries are more likely when:

  • The baby is larger than normal
  • The baby is premature
  • It is a breech birth
  • The shape or size of the mother’s anatomy makes a vaginal delivery difficult
  • Labor is difficult or very long

These are all things that your doctor should be attentive to during your prenatal care visits.

Some birth injuries are severe and lead to the need for life-long medical care. If your child has suffered from a birth injury, you will need to plan appropriately. You will require additional financial resources to cover the cost of the additional care and any other special services a child may need during his or her lifetime.

How Common Are Birth Injuries in the United States?

According to the National Healthcare Quality Report, there are 6 to 8 babies who suffer a birth injury for every 1,000 births in the U.S.

That means about 28,000 babies are born with a birth injury every year in the U.S.

Who?

The National Healthcare Quality Report found that:

6.68 of every 1,000 birth injuries reported in 2000 involved male children.

5.08 of every 1,000 birth injuries involved female infants.

What?

There are dozens of kinds of birth injuries, but some of the more common birth injuries include:

Fractures

Broken arms, legs, and shoulders often during the birthing process.

Brain Injuries

Pressure to the infant’s head or lack of oxygen to the baby can cause permanent brain injuries.

Brachial Palsy

This condition causes weakness and/or loss of motion in the affected upper extremity, often resulting from the infant’s neck being stretched to the side during a difficult childbirth process.

Most Common Birth Injuries

  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Fractured bones
  • Facial paralysis
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Caput Succedaneum
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage
Where?

4.33 of every 1,000 birth injuries were reported in private for-profit hospitals.

7.15 per 1,000 birth injuries were in non-profit, private medical centers.

6.11 of every 1,000 birth injuries were in public hospitals.

Preventable Birth Injuries

There are birth injuries caused by doctors – either by what the doctors did wrong or what they failed to do to prevent the issues that caused the trauma. Some birth injuries caused by doctors are more common than others.

Birth Injuries Caused By Doctors

1.Insufficient Monitoring

A physician failing to properly monitor the mother during her pregnancy and the unborn fetus can often lead to serious complications and birth injuries. Failure to properly monitor both can lead to infections and illnesses that aren’t properly treated.

2.Excessive Force During Delivery

If too much force is used during the birthing process, the baby can suffer unnecessary trauma. Excessive force can cause broken bones, brain injuries, and neurological damage. Using tools such as forceps can also cause injuries to the infant.

3.Medical Errors

If too much force is used during the birthing process, the baby can suffer unnecessary trauma. Excessive force Examples of medical errors include doctors who fail to prescribe necessary medications, or who prescribe medications that are not safe to take during pregnancy. Administering the wrong medicines or wrong dosages are also considered serious medical errors and can result in serious consequences.

4.Delayed Diagnosis or Failure to Diagnose

If the treating physician fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses a medical condition in the mother or the fetus, such a failure could cause a troublesome delivery and ultimately lead to trauma and injury during the birthing process. These situations can lead to otherwise preventable birth injuries.

The Doctor’s Responsibility
to Prevent Birth Injuries

Medical providers have a responsibility to predict any problems that could be reasonably expected in certain circumstances. Birth injuries are often the result of medical negligence, which happens when a doctor fails to act within the standard of care expected for a specific situation. Medical professionals should be able to intervene when and where necessary to prevent harm to the infant.

Examples of Preventable Birth Injuries

  • A doctor may miscalculate the fetus size or fail to properly date the pregnancy, resulting in the birth of a baby too early or too late.
  • Medical staff may fail to check the mother and the fetus for infections or other medical problems, such as diabetes. When left untreated, these medical conditions can cause serious complications for both the mother and the baby. For example, if Rh incompatibility goes unaddressed, a birth injury can result. Physicians and medical staff have a responsibility to monitor the fetus and respond to any signs of fetal distress.
  • Birth injuries can also be caused by administering improper prescription drugs during the pregnancy or delivery process. If there is an abnormal presentation of the infant, such as breech presentation or shoulder dystocia, the physician must act accordingly.
  • Failure to give oxygen when needed, improper usage of delivery instruments, and failure to perform a timely C-section are other leading causes of preventable birth injuries.

What Happens After a Birth Injury?

As the parent of a child who has suffered a birth injury, you may feel overwhelmed.

You should consider how you and your child’s future could be affected by the injury, and meet with a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your situation.

A birth injury attorney will thoroughly assess your case and determine the best way to proceed from that point on so that both you and your baby get the medical care and financial compensation that you deserve.

While filing a claim may not correct your child’s medical issues, it will help you to recover compensation to cover your child’s personal and medical needs associated with the birth injury.

A claim can help cover the costs of past and future medical care and even provide compensation for other expenses such as education.

A birth injury doesn’t only affect the newly-born infant; such devastating injuries affect the entire involved family. Mothers and fathers should not face these traumatic situations alone and unassisted. Instead, those affected by a birth injury to their child should enlist the help of a birth injury attorney who can investigate the case and gather supporting evidence and documentation.

Do I Have a Birth Injury Case?

A birth injury attorney will examine all the facts of the case and determine if you have a birth injury case. The lawyer will review and evaluate all the medical records, which can total thousands of pages that start with the initial prenatal visit, continue throughout the duration of the pregnancy, and do not end until the birth of the child.

Your birth injury attorney will also review all the details of your birthing process. He or she will carefully review all the details of your pregnancy to determine what went wrong, why it went wrong, and when it went wrong.

The attorney will determine if the birth injury could have been avoided. If the physician, a nurse, or the hospital’s errors caused the birth injury, then you can file a medical malpractice suit against the liable party.

Who Can Be Sued for a Birth Injury?

There are many people who play a role in the healthcare of a pregnant woman and her baby. The liable party is the one who will be sued for the birth injury that their actions caused.

Here are some of the people and/or facilities that can face a medical malpractice claim:

  • Doctors
  • Midwives
  • Hospitals
  • Birthing Centers

Your birth injury attorney will determine who should be sued. For example, if a nurse made an error, then his or her employer, such as a hospital or birthing center, will be held liable for damages caused by their negligence while providing medical care.

What Evidence Does a Birth Injury Attorney Need?

To have a successful medical malpractice claim, a birth injury attorney will need evidence showing the child’s birth injury was directly the result of an act of medical negligence or malpractice.

The lawyer will look for evidence of:

  • Physician notes
  • Nursing notes
  • Hospital orders
  • Pharmacy dispensing sheets
  • Medication administration forms
  • Lab tests
  • Operative notes
  • Other medical records
  • Records detailing the administering of any drugs
  • Any imaging and lab work performed throughout the pregnancy and birthing process

Your medical caregivers have an obligation to ensure you and your unborn child receive the proper care throughout the pregnancy and then during the childbirth process. If there were deviations or mistakes made, your birth injury attorney will look at those situations closely, gathering all the supporting evidence and documentation needed to pursue a claim.

Documentation for a birth injury claim might include:

  • Physician notes
  • Medical records
  • Records detailing the administering of any drugs
  • Any imaging and lab work performed throughout the pregnancy and birthing process

How Does a Birth Injury Lawsuit Help?

If your child has suffered a preventable birth injury, or if he or she was injured during childbirth because of a medical mistake, you can pursue a medical malpractice claim with the help of a birth injury attorney.
While a birth injury lawsuit won’t correct the problem caused by medical malpractice, it can help you and your child’s future. There will be unexpected and costly expenses for the long-term care and needs of your child.

Here are a few costs a birth injury lawsuit can help pay for:

  • Medical expenses – including therapy, rehabilitation, general healthcare costs, medical devices, etc.
  • Cost of special equipment, such as wheelchairs or braces
  • Cost of special educational services and needs
  • Costs associated with a caregiver or personalized nursing services as needed
  • Pain and suffering – mental anguish, anxiety, emotional distress
  • Lost wages for the parent
  • Child’s future loss of income and long-term disabilities

How Long Does a Birth Injury Lawsuit Take?

In California, there is a statute of limitations for pursuing a birth injury claim.

California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5 states that such claims must be filed within one year of discovering – or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered the injury – or within a 3-year timeframe of the injury – or whichever comes first.

The General Process of a Birth Injury Claim

Specific procedures that must be followed when a medical malpractice claim is filed.

One such example is that the healthcare provider must be given a minimum of 90 days warning in advance of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit for any injury, including a birth injury (called a Notice of Intent to Sue).

Your birth injury lawyer will serve the provider with the Notice of Intent to Sue letter for you. Your odds of a successful birth injury claim will improve greatly when you have an experienced birth injury attorney representing you.

Take Action With a Birth Injury Attorney

If your child has suffered a birth injury, you should consult with a knowledgeable birth injury attorney in Los Angeles. Schedule a free case review with the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. by calling (323) 746-0087 today. Our medical malpractice lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for medical malpractice victims.

Questions? Contact us

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