BIRTH INJURY


Medical Malpractice and Hospital Negligence Attorney Investigating Birth Injury Lawsuits
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Cincinnati Birth Injury Lawyer

Reviewing maternal injuries & delivery malpractice claims

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.

Delivery Malpractice

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:

  • Bradycardia
  • Loss of variability
  • Decelerations
  • 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.

birth injury lawsuits

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.

Prgnancy & 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.

photo of birth injury attorney Joe Lyon
Compensation Following Negligence

Why are Birth Trauma Cases important?

When hospital management or individual physicians fail to provide a sufficient level of care, victims may seek legal recourse and file suit against the negligent parties. Birth trauma lawsuits improve the quality of healthcare by holding physicians and hospitals responsible when they fall below a professional standard of care. 

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Birth Injury Malpractice

Can I File A Lawsuit?

Each birth injury case and instance of hospital negligence is different and must be investigated. Medical records and testimony can provide insights into the root cause of a birth injury. The Lyon Firm works with medical experts to bring legal action when necessary.

If you have been injured in a childbirth injury or your child has suffered, The Lyon Firm will review your case. Once your medical goals have been discussed following a birth injury, it is crucial to set up a plan to help pay for the medical costs associated with the birth injury in question.

Obtaining a settlement is not an easy task but an experienced attorney can assist you in a big way. Once the malpractice lawsuit is filed, an attorney can present your case with evidence and testimony in the discovery phase, which will begin the settlement process.

What is an Apgar Score?

Apgar tests are performed on infants one minute after birth and five minutes after birth. The first test is done to examine how the child handled the birthing process, whereas the second test is done to see how the child is fairing outside of the mother’s womb.

The minimum score a baby can obtain is a zero and the maximum is ten; the test consists of five categories and the baby is ranked 0-2 for each category (zero for negative results and two for excellent results). The five categories measure:

  • breathing effort;
  • heart rate;
  • muscle tone;
  • reflex/grimace response;
  • skin color.

Initially, the Apgar test was assumed to be independent of a child’s future health; the tests were mere indications of how an infant was getting acclimated with surviving on his own and whether or not any appropriate medical procedures needed to be ordered.

However, a recent study and article produced by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) indicates that a lower Apgar score during the five-minute test is related to higher death rates for neonatal infants (immediate post birth) and post-neonatal infants (one month to one year after birth).

Specifically, it was found that infants who scored 0-3 on their five-minute Apgar test had a 35 percent chance of death within the first week after birth, a 3 percent chance of death between 7-28 days of birth, and a 5 percent chance of death within one year of birth. Deaths were typically a result of anoxia or asphyxia (types of suffocation).

The study produced by the NEJM was conducted in Scotland and consisted of one million births between 1992 and 2010. Another study produced in 2013 by the Public Library of Science (PLoS) revealed similar implications.

According to this study, within one month of birth, 58% of babies who scored a one on the Apgar did not survive, 33 percent of babies who scored a two on the Apgar did not survive, and 19% of all babies who scored a three on the Apgar did not survive.  The mortality rate for babies who initially received low Apgar scores, but lived past one month of life decreased astoundingly.

After surviving past one month, only 3 percent of babies who scored a one did not survive over a year, 3% of babies who scored a two did not survive over a year, and 4% of babies who scored a three did not survive.

These results are analogous with those from the NEJM; while the mortality rate is high within the first month of birth for infants with low Apgar scores, it decreases significantly after the first month.

What is Bradycardia?

Bradycardia is the slowing of the heart rate below for a ten minute period. If a baby has severe bradycardia, their brain may not be getting enough oxygen. Brain damage begins within 10 minutes.

The variability in oxygen deprivation will vary, depending on the fetal reserve. If an infant has a full fetal oxygen reserve, it will take a longer bradycardia to result in a brain injury or birth injury. Generally, if a baby can be delivered within 10 minutes after a bradycardia, the child will not suffer birth injury.

What is Tachycardia?

Tachycardia is the opposite of bradycardia, and describes when a heart rate is greater than 150-160 beats per minute. A sustained heart rate above 150 can suggest the possibility of fetal distress because a primary cause of tachycardia is oxygen deprivation. A normal fetal heart rate is somewhere between 115 and 150.

What Are Decelerations?

Decelerations are drops in the fetal heart rate. Some decelerations are considered normal, but still the fetus loses oxygen during each deceleration. Repeated decelerations may lead to acidosis, hypoxia, and ischemia, and ultimately birth injury.

What Prescriptions Are Linked with Birth Defects?

Children are incredibly vulnerable to dangerous prescription drugs while developing in a mother’s womb. Unfortunately, several medications may interfere with proper development and contribute to various types of physical and mental birth defects. Some of these medications include the following:

  • •    SSRIs: antidepressants including Paxil, Lexapro, Effexor, Prozac, and Zoloft
    •    PPIs (prescription antacids): include Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid
    •    Accutane
    •    Cholesterol-controlling statins: Crestor
    •    Depakote
    •    Topamax (topiramate)

Learn About the Medical Malpractice Legal Process

Video: Investigating Medical Malpractice

The process for investigating a medical malpractice claims involves the following steps: 

  1. Gather a full and informed history from the family addressing their concerns and thoughts on what went wrong; 
  2. Gather the complete medical records including film studies, if any; 
  3. Review of the records and applicable medical literature by attorneys; 
  4. Review of the records by a qualified physician practicing in the relevant areas on standard of care and causation; 
  5. Final consultation with expert to review opinions;
  6. Signing of Affidavit of Merit by the Expert before case filing, for cases where medical malpractice is identified. 
Request A Free Consultation

 

    • Answer a few general questions.

    • A member of our legal team will review your birth injury case.

    • We will determine, together with you, what makes sense for the next step for you and your family to take.

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