Birth Injury - Error Birth/Newborn Malpractice
There is no question that a pregnancy creates medical risk for both mother and child. Women may suffer from a variety of conditions due to pregnancy such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia (or “pre-eclampsia,” is a condition properly described as pregnancy induced hypertension, previously called “toxemia”) to name just a couple. It is critical that these conditions are carefully monitored and treated. Preeclampsia, for example, can be a life threatening condition if not treated. Untreated women with preeclampsia can also suffer seizures and major cardio-respiratory dysfunction or arrest. Doctors may use medication or elect to induce early delivery of a baby, when possible, as the best treatment for this condition. Diabetes must be monitored and treated, even if only by modifying diet, as well. Malpractice cases, which we have litigated, have involved the failure to diagnose and treat these potentially dangerous conditions.
The fetus and baby can suffer birth injury and permanent harm if obstetricians do not act properly. Among many other cases of malpractice that we have confronted, are cases involving obstetrician malpractice and a failure to monitor and treat fetal distress. Fetal distress refers to physical distress experienced by a fetus during the pregnancy or labor as a result of not receiving enough oxygen (e.g., from umbilical cord/nuchal cord compression, meconium ingestion/poisoning and other causes). This condition where the fetus does not receive enough oxygen is known as fetal hypoxia. Fetal distress slows the baby’s heart rate which can be detected through fetal heart monitoring. Fetal distress may require emergency cesarean section. When doctors fail to act properly in the face of fetal distress, the baby can die or be born with brain damage or severe disabilities.
Another all too common mistake by obstetricians involves a failure to appreciate the danger of delivering a baby that is too large to be delivered vaginally because of the comparatively small size of the mother’s pelvis. When the baby is too large for the mother, a baby’s shoulder may get stuck behind the pubic bone and prevent delivery. This condition is known as shoulder dystocia and can also lead to fetal distress and a deprivation of oxygen for the infant. If not properly addressed, it can also lead to a severe orthopedic and neurological injury to the baby’s trapped arm and shoulder.
Our partners have successfully litigated shoulder dystocia cases that were improperly managed by the obstetrician during delivery, resulting in a traumatic nerve injury to the baby. In these cases, the doctor pulls too hard, to one side or the other, on the baby’s head and neck (lateral traction) and damages nerves in the neck and in the nerve bundle in the shoulder area, known as the brachial plexus nerve bundle. When the doctor damages these nerves, the result is a brachial plexus palsy, also known as an Erb’s Palsy. The brachial plexus palsy can manifest itself in a paralyzed or partially paralyzed or palsied arm and shoulder. Sometimes, therapy or surgery can repair the damage, to varying degrees, other times the child is left with a major permanent disability.
After delivery, babies are extremely fragile and must be carefully monitored for any signs of respiratory distress or cardio-respiratory dysfunction. Babies must also be physically handled with great care by the nurses and techs who assist in the newborn nurseries and maternity wards of a hospital to prevent injury to the newborn. Tragically, due to clear negligence, babies have been dropped and badly hurt by doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers at hospitals. When mistakes such as this occur, the negligent healthcare providers should be held accountable for the suffering that they cause.
If you or a loved one has been injured by malpractice and you would like to speak with an experienced birth injury lawyer, please contact us to speak to one of the lawyers at Boyers Law Group, for a free consultation about your legal rights.