The birth of a child is one of the happiest moments in life. Unfortunately, many families endure tragedy when their child is born with a birth injury or the mother of the child suffers an injury or death. Every year, 8 out of 1,000 births suffer a birth injury. Many of these birth injuries are preventable and some are a result of delivery malpractice.
Furthermore, in a study conducted by the Journal of American Medical Association, regarding early childhood lawsuits, one third of families questioned believed their doctors did not talk openly with them, and one half believed that their doctors attempted to mislead them. Astonishingly, approximately three out of four families said their infant’s doctor did not warn about long-term neurological issues.
Maternal injury and death are also tragically common occurrences in the United States, with between 700-900 instances of maternal death each year, and almost 65,000 cases of severe, near-fatal injury. These injuries are also often preventable, and are possible cause for legal action for victims and a birth injuries lawyer.
Around 50,000 women each year suffer severe childbirth injuries, according to a study published last year in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Common injuries to birthing mothers include:
Following an injury where you suspect there was negligence, a defective product or simply have questions about what may have happened, you should contact and experienced Ohio birth malpractice lawyer to investigate the matter.
Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati medical malpractice attorney and birth injury lawyer who is well-versed in the science and economic impact that such a hospital negligence related injury has on a plaintiff.
The Lyon Firm has developed compelling evidence in catastrophic birth injury cases through the use of nationally recognized experts to present the highest quality advocacy on the Plaintiff’s behalf. This work has resulted in significant seven figure settlements that enhanced and secured a dignified quality of life for the Plaintiff’s future.
Birth Injury Lawsuits
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), each year six out of every 1,000 children born in the United States are injured during birth. Many of these birth injuries are preventable and are the result of medical malpractice.
There is evidence that suggests that medical professionals are not as forthcoming as is expected during critical times surround child birth. In a study conducted by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), up to 30 percent of families questioned believed their doctors did not talk openly with them, and 50 percent believed that their doctors attempted to mislead them.
For a variety of reasons, many doctors choose not to discuss long-term infant health issues before or after child birth, and some may be responsible for severe sustained birth injuries, including:
Symptoms of Birth Injury
- Swelling/bruising of the head
- Seizures within 48 hours of birth
- Failure to begin breathing immediately
- Bleeding underneath one of the cranial bones
- Breakage of eye blood vessels
- Apparent nerve damage to arms/hands (loss of muscle control)
- Apparent nerve damage to the face (loss of muscle control)
- Loss of motion due to fracture of the collarbone
Low Apgar Score
A low Apgar score may be indicative of brain trauma that was preventable. Medical malpractice may also arise with low Apgar scores when appropriate measures are not met by physicians and nurses caring for newborns with low Apgar scores.
When an infant has an Apgar score lower than seven, sufficient medical attention is required. Typical responses to low Apgar scores include providing oxygen to clear a baby’s air passages or physical stimulation to jump-start a baby’s heartbeat (up to 100 beats per minute).
Fetal Monitoring Malpractice
Fetal monitoring has been around as early as the 1960s, when doctors used a stethoscope designed for use in pregnancy to monitor the fetus. The practice helps physicians monitor how a baby is faring during labor.
Electronic fetal monitoring is more advanced now, and can decipher how an infant’s heart rate is responding. Electronic fetal monitoring includes a computer monitor display that records the fetal heart rate and the birthing mother’s contractions. Many birth malpractice lawsuits involve the misinterpretation of fetal monitoring strips.
For women having high-risk labor, it is common to have continuous fetal monitoring. This may be critical for the following:
- Women using an epidural
- Women having an induction of labor
- Women who have had a previous C-section
- Women with existing medical conditions
- Women experiencing some form of fetal distress
Fetal Distress Malpractice
Fetal distress means the womb has become unsafe for an infant, and the baby may not be getting enough oxygen. Interpreting electronic fetal monitoring can help prevent birth injuries. Plaintiffs often argue that some birth injuries result when labor and delivery are improperly delayed, resulting in a brain injury.
The purpose of fetal monitoring is to watch for warning signs and act before a major injury occurs. The fetal monitor focuses largely on oxygen. Common warning signs of fetal distress include:
- Loss of variability
- Uterine hyperstimulation
If the fetus has certain fetal heart rate characteristics like tachycardia, decelerations, or bradycardia, the child is at risk for hypoxia, ischemia, acidosis, and asphyxia, all of which can lead to brain damage.
Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury
Cerebral palsy is one of the more common birth defects, and affects a person’s ability to move properly. The condition can be the result of toxic exposure, medical malpractice, birth trauma, or other causes. In many cases, the exact cause of cerebral palsy is unknown.
Possible causes, however, include genetic defects, congenital brain defects, maternal infection, or fetal trauma. Specific types of brain damage may cause characteristic CP symptoms, such as damage to the white matter of the brain , which is responsible for transmitting brain signals to the body.
Gaps in brain tissue in a child will interfere with the transmission of signals to the body. Researchers have identified the period of 26 and 34 weeks of gestation as being critical in brain development.
Cerebral palsy related to genetic abnormalities, or congenital cerebral palsy, can be managed with proper medical guidance. Maternal vaccinations and Rh incompatibilities should be managed early in pregnancy by a obstetrician. Acquired cerebral palsy, usually due to a head injury, is more preventable with safe child care.
Cerebral palsy malpractice cases can help families cope with high medical costs, costs of specialized care, and for special treatment into the future. If a doctor or hospital is responsible for a cerebral palsy injury, contact The Lyon Firm. We can investigate any potential hospital negligence lawsuit or medical malpractice case, and assist in recovering rightful compensation.
Hypoxic Birth Injury & HIE Lawsuits
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or perinatal encephalopathy is caused by a lack of oxygen during childbirth. Perinatal encephalopathy is a broad term that refers to brain damage from birth trauma. Birth injuries may include a ruptured uterus, an obstructed umbilical cord, birth trauma or separation of the placenta.
Hypoxia refers to a lack of oxygen and birth complications may include brain damage, death, and damage to the central nervous system. There are several causes of oxygen deprivation during childbirth, and doctors must prevent them to the best of their ability.
Obstetricians, nurses, and nurse practitioners have to be aware of the potential for eclampsia, a prolapsed umbilical cord, ruptured uterus, or placental abruption that can lead to oxygen loss. Babies who suffer hypoxic injuries at birth risk developing neurological injuries, development delays, learning disabilities, seizures, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy.
Pharmaceutical Birth Defects
In recent years, medical research has located significant birth risks when pregnant women are exposed to certain toxins and prescription drugs. Prolonged exposure heightens risk; however, even a small chemical imbalance in a woman’s body during pregnancy can result in dangerous irregularities.
The full impacts these toxic products and drugs have on developing infants are inadequately studied before the dangerous products are marketed, or are prescribed to pregnant women without sufficient safety warnings.
Birth defects are the leading cause of infant death. Newborns who survive birth defects often need significant medical care for life, and many are unable to fully mature and function independently.
Pregnancy & Medication Use
According to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of prescription medication by pregnant women during the first trimester has increased more than 60 percent over the past 30 years. Most birth defects occur within the first three months of pregnancy.
According to the CDC at the time of the study, at least 50 percent of pregnant women were taking at least one prescription medication during the first trimester. The risk of birth defects caused by some prescription drugs is even more dire because pharmaceutical companies do not provide a widespread warning for many products.
Birth Injury Settlements
The medical costs for caring for a child with a birth injury are usually more than a typical family can afford. Medical costs can be ten-times the amount of medical costs for children who do not have a birth injury. Thus, a malpractice settlement is very important financially to properly care of a child.
Most infants who experience birth injuries will require long-term medical care and potentially special education, behavioral therapy, and a wide variety of specialized care. The expenses will add up, and your settlement is crucial for the future.
In recent years, the courts have carefully considered medical malpractice cases, and awarded rightful and generous settlements to victims of serious birth injuries. Doctors and medical professionals in Cincinnati and Ohio hospitals may have all the best intentions but are not perfect individuals, and are capable of making mistakes that have terrible, long-reaching effects.
The Lyon Firm develops compelling evidence in catastrophic injury cases through the use of nationally-recognized experts to present the highest quality advocacy on the Plaintiff’s behalf. This work has resulted in significant seven figure settlements that enhanced and secured a dignified quality of life for the Plaintiff’s future.
There are a wide variety of medical malpractice claims relating to pregnancy and birth. Doctors and nurses may make mistakes during the pre-natal, birthing, and post-natal periods. Some of the following mistakes may describe the most common malpractice occurrences that result in birth injury:
- Failing to recognize and address fetal distress
- Failing to identify pre or post-natal infection (including bacterial and viral infections)
- Incorrect use of forceps or application of excessive force: if the delivering doctor uses improper techniques, the baby can be injured, causing trauma to the head, spinal cord or vertebrae
- Lack of oxygen
- Failure to follow up after delivery—newborn seizures are often misdiagnosed in the critical first 24 hours of life
- Administration of incorrect or dangerous medications
- Failing to perform a cesarean section when required
- Diagnostic Error fetal bradycardia, decelerations, or low fetal heart rate variability
- Birth Delays—a delay in birth can increase the risk of hypoxia (a lack of oxygen) and acidosis (increasing acidity of the blood). This may lead to brain damage.
Filing lawsuits are usually nobody’s first choice, and can be exhausting for plaintiffs, but by hiring a competent attorney, you may be able to improve your quality of life substantially. The courts have awarded plaintiffs large verdicts in Ohio medical malpractice lawsuits.