A great amount of trust is placed in the doctor and medical staff when parents enter a hospital to give birth to their baby.
This trust includes knowing the correct standards of medical care will be followed and the mother and unborn child will have the full attention of the staff to ensure a healthy delivery. Any mistake made during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and immediately following may cause life-altering consequences to the newborn, including cerebral palsy (CP). CP causes irreversible injury to the brain, which in many cases could have been prevented had proper care been given. If your child has been diagnosed with CP after birth, consult a Chicago cerebral palsy attorney from Willens & Baez. There are a number of negligent factors that could have caused this birth defect including medical negligence.
Birth Injuries from Medical Negligence
If your child has suffered a birth injury, how do you know whether it was due to medical negligence?
It can be hard to determine the cause, and the staff at the hospital are not always eager to share the information you need to know.
Minor Birth Injuries
Not all birth injuries are serious. Some minor birth injuries will pass on their own without little or no treatment, and leave little, if any, permanent effect. Some examples include:
- Subdural or cerebral hemorrhage
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage
- Clavicle fracture
- Caput succedaneum
Although your baby’s risk of these types of injuries can be increased by the delivery techniques used and may be attributable to medical negligence, their transitory nature means they do not usually merit a medical negligence lawsuit.
Moderate Birth Injuries
Some birth injuries cause lasting damage, and can be caused by a failure to live up to the professional standards of care. These include:
- Facial nerve injury
- Brachial plexus injury
- Intraventricular hemorrhage
In general, facial nerve injury and brachial plexus injury are more likely to be associated with medical negligence. Improper handling of a difficult birth, overuse or improper use of extraction tools or failure to recommend a cesarean section for an at-risk birth may increase the risk of injury. Although it used to be thought that 90% of infants with brachial plexus injury recovered fully without treatment, it is now believed that up to 30% of infants with brachial plexus injury will suffer residual effects.
Serious Birth Injuries
Some birth injuries almost always result in lifelong effects that may reduce your child’s ability to live a healthy, normal life and may require long-term ongoing care. These include:
- Spinal cord injury
- Cerebral palsy
These can both be caused by medical negligence. Spinal cord injury can result from inappropriate handling of the baby during delivery. Cerebral palsy can be caused by a lack of oxygen to a baby’s brain during a difficult or prolonged delivery. The impact of these injuries is tremendous. Studies indicate cerebral palsy effectively doubles your child’s medical care expenses and may result in a lifetime cost of about $1 million.
Medication Errors Leading to Birth Injuries
The most dangerous time for medication errors is during the first trimester of pregnancy, but can occur at any time.
Types of Medication Errors Leading to Birth Injuries
There are many potential errors that can cause birth injuries. These include:
- Continuation of prescription during pregnancy that has fetal risk
- Administration of prescription with fetal risk during pregnancy
- Administration of prescription that interferes with nutrient uptake during pregnancy
- Failure to administer necessary prescription
- Overdose or underdose of prescription
Although relatively rare, these medication errors are potentially very serious.
Effects of Medication Errors
Medication errors can lead to serious consequences for the mother or child, including:
- Birth defects, including heart defects, brain defects, and more
- Premature birth
- Fetal distress requiring intervention
- Loss of pregnancy
In all these cases, additional care and expense is required for the child and often for the mother. In many cases, the effects are long-term or permanent.
Medication errors are too common in the US, but they are preventable. If you or your child has been the victim of a preventable medication error, you should not have to bear the costs associated with that error. At Willens & Baez, we have helped many parents get compensation after medication errors. We want to help you.
Birth Injury Caused by Failure to Administer Antibiotics
If the doctor fails to identify infection in time and does not administer the right antibiotics at the right time, it can put the life of both the mother and the unborn child in danger.
For expecting parents, the birth of their child is a joyous occasion. However, the path to motherhood often involves risks which, if not managed well, can cause injury to mother and the child. As the mother’s body undergoes several changes during pregnancy, her immune system also changes to protect both her and her unborn child from illness. During this process, some parts of the immune system are suppressed, while others are enhanced. This can put the pregnant mother at a higher risk of bacterial infections. According to our Chicago birth injury lawyers, the death rate of viral and bacterial infections is higher in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant women. It is therefore extremely important that the pregnant woman is monitored for any infection throughout pregnancy and particularly delivery.
If the doctor fails to identify the infection in time, and does not administer the right antibiotics at the right time, it can put the life of both the mother and the unborn child in danger. Failure to administer antibiotics can amount to medical negligence. Affected families can pursue a claim against the at-fault doctor.
Common Infections Requiring Antibiotics
It is the duty of the treating doctor to identify infection in a pregnant woman, and administer antibiotics promptly as necessary. Some of the infections that require antibiotic treatment include:
- Group B Strep: It is the most common cause of meningitis and septicemia among newborns. The bacteria may be found in digestive tracts or female genital tracts, and it may get transmitted to the baby as it passes through the birth canal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any pregnant woman who has had a baby with Group B strep in the past, tests positive for Group B strep during pregnancy, or has a current urinary tract infection caused by Group B strep should be give intravenous antibiotics during labor. If left untreated, it can cause life threatening birth injuries to the child, and may even cause death of the mother.
- Chorioamnionitis: This condition affects the membranes that surround the fetus and the amniotic fluid. If left untreated, it can cause meningitis, respiratory illnesses, brain damage or sepsis, and it may necessitate preterm delivery.
Trichomoniasis: This is a sexually transmitted parasite that causes inflammation of the cervix. The condition is easily treatable with antibiotics, however, if left untreated, it can cause bleeding, preterm labor and low birth weight.
- Villitis: This is a complication resulting from untreated Group B strep, which causes the placenta to become inflamed. If the underlying strep infection is not treated, villitis can cause placental deterioration and eventually lead to fetal death.
Can Underestimating Birth Weight Lead to Birth Injuries?
A recent study by the Journal of Perinatology has suggested that medical providers often underestimate the birth weight of the babies to be delivered by a mother’s second or subsequent vaginal delivery. This can give a false sense of security in the delivery room, and greatly increase the risk of brachial plexus injury to the baby. Our Chicago birth injury lawyer explains what brachial plexus injury is and how underestimation of weight can increase the chances of this injury.
Study shows doctors often underestimate the infant weight
A recent study conducted to determine whether the risk of a brachial plexus injury was higher in a first time vaginal delivery or in subsequent vaginal births has concluded that although the risk of this type of injury is not higher in subsequent births, an underestimation of the birth weight of the subsequent naturally delivered babies may result in doctors failing to identify the risk of brachial plexus injury. They may neglect to take remedial or preventive measure in time to prevent such an injury. The researchers urged the doctors not to assume that the prior vaginal delivery will reduce the risk of brachial plexus injury. They should make efforts to correctly predict the birth weight of the infant, and take necessary actions accordingly.
Complications From Epidural Errors
If a mother experiences any of these events during childbirth, the unborn child may be in serious danger. These medical emergencies during childbirth can cut off the baby’s oxygen supply. Lack of oxygen during childbirth can cause severe injuries to the unborn child. If the child is deprived of oxygen inside the mother’s womb, brain damage can take place leading to a number of complications.
Undiagnosed Complications Can Lead to Birth Injuries
While the birth of a baby is one of the most joyous moments in the lives of parents, for some these emotions quickly turn into despair if the baby suffers a birth injury. Birth injuries are not all that common, but they do occur. Undiagnosed pregnancy complications can greatly increase the risk of a birth injury. In this post, we will discuss some of the serious complications that can increase the risk of birth injuries.
Serious complications that can result in birth injuries
Many types of risks and complications can occur during pregnancy, which can lead to an increased risk of injuries at the time of labor or delivery. It is possible to diagnose these complications during pregnancy, and if they are diagnosed and treated in time, they do not create any problems during childbirth. Some of the common pregnancy complications include:
- Improperly Positioned Baby
Treating these complications during pregnancy
Normally, a pregnancy progresses as it should, and the expecting mother is able to progress to a normal labor and delivery. To ensure a problem free pregnancy and delivery, the pregnant woman should have regular prenatal doctor checkups to make sure there are no complications. If her doctor notices a medical condition, they can take the necessary precautions in time to help prevent further complications. Even if you think your pregnancy is progressing normally, you should keep up with regular doctor appointments.
Preventing birth injuries
Birth injuries can occur at the time of labor or delivery, and these injuries normally happen when there is a serious complication or medical problem at the time of birth. It is important to properly diagnose conditions during pregnancy to reduce the risk of problems during childbirth. If a doctor diagnoses a problem, they should monitor the pregnant woman closely and provide appropriate treatment.
The doctor will also need to determine whether any special requirements are necessary during delivery. For example, if the baby is too large, normal delivery may be difficult. Any possible injuries can be prevented by performing a C-section.
Undiagnosed Complications and birth injuries
When the doctor fails to diagnose a complication and is not prepare to manage it, the chances of a birth injury occurring may become very high. For example, a baby who is too large or is not positioned properly cannot be delivered vaginally. The prolonged delay can cause the baby to become distressed. It is therefore important for the doctor to evaluate the baby’s weight and position before the baby goes into labor. In some cases, it may be possible to turn the baby before the woman goes into labor. If this does not happen, the woman may require a C-section.
Medical Negligence Resulting in Cerebral Palsy
- A delayed cesarian section after the mother struggled for hours attempting a vaginal delivery, causing the baby to go into distress.
- Not being admitted to the hospital at the onset of labor, even though signs of distress such as bleeding were evident.
- The mother was allowed to labor for too long, causing the unborn child to lose oxygen from a low amount of amniotic fluid.
- Failure of the delivering doctor to note that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the neck, restricting blood flow to the brain.
- Unsuccessful attempts to induce labor, allowing the baby to go into distress from oxygen deprivation.
- Failure of the delivering doctor to arrive in time, allowing the unborn child to spend an extended amount of time in the birth canal.
- Failure to note that the amniotic sac had ruptured.
- The unnecessary use of forceps or a vacuum extractor, causing injury to the brain.
- Failure to monitor the heartbeat of the baby during labor and delivery and identify signs that the baby had gone into fetal distress.
- Insufficient pre-natal care when there were clear signs of a high risk pregnancy.
- Excessive force used by the delivering doctor to remove the baby from the birth canal.
- The baby’s shoulder became stuck on the pubic bone during delivery and the delivering doctor did not react appropriately.
- Failure of the doctor to note signs of a high risk delivery, such as a high birth weight, which could cause the baby to become stuck in the birth canal.
- The baby suffered a trauma to the head during or immediately after delivery, causing damage leading to cerebral palsy.
Chicago Birth Injury Law Firm
Our birth injury lawyer can review your medical records regarding the prenatal care, admission, labor, and birth of your child to see if something could have been done to prevent this terrible illness. Your child with cerebral palsy will require a lifetime of special care and compensation from negligent medical staff will help in covering that expense. Call Willens & Baez at (312) 957-4166 for a case evaluation.