Birth injuries can occur for a number of reasons, including events that injure the pregnant mother. These include:
The most common cause of a birth injury, however, is medical malpractice, which can occur at anytime during pregnancy, labor or delivery. In addition, it is not only the obstetrician who can be guilty of medical negligence. Many birth injuries are attributed to medical mistakes by nurses, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists or others. In these cases, the hospital may be liable for medical errors due to the negligence of its employees or its own lack of procedures and safeguards.Duties of Doctors, Nurses and Hospital Staff to Prevent Birth Injuries
It is incumbent on the obstetrician to monitor maternal and fetal health throughout the pregnancy. The mother should be monitored for appropriate weight gain as well as gestational diabetes. Ultrasounds, fetal heart monitoring, and other diagnostic tools can be used throughout pregnancy to determine if the fetus is developing normally and if any complications are present, such as acidic blood indicating lack of oxygen or other fetal distress. Doctors and hospital staff should also be aware of, and act accordingly if, any potential complications are involved, such as an unusually large baby, long pregnancy, long period of labor, or use of an epidural or Pitocin inducement.
Other common causes of birth injuries attributed to medical malpractice include:
- Failure to provide genetic counseling when indicated by family history or testing.
- Mishandling the infant during delivery. (e.g. improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors)
- Delay or failure to perform a c-section for the life or health of mother or child, which may be indicated by fetal bleeding, placenta previa, placental abruption or other issues
Because birth injuries may be attributable to so many different causes, lawsuits involving these issues are difficult and complex. Expert witnesses are often required, and it can be a challenge to communicate medical expert testimony in a compelling way that a jury or mediator can understand. But these cases are important, first because they provide much needed compensation for future medical treatment, but also as a way to force health care providers to make needed changes. The experienced attorneys at Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall LLC can help with all of the following birth injuries:
- Cerebral Palsy - Most often attributed to a lack of oxygen to the brain, such as hypoxia or anoxia. CP results in reduced sensory and motor function and musculoskeletal difficulties.
- Erb's Palsy - Also known as Klumpke's palsy, shoulder dystocia, or a brachial plexus injury. Erb's Palsy results when stress or trauma to the shoulders causes the peripheral nerves to stretch or tear, often leading to permanent paralysis in arms and hands. This type of trauma or stress can occur if too much pressure is applied during delivery, or if the infant's body impacts against the mother's pubic bone.
- Facial Paralysis - Mishandling such as improper use of forceps during delivery can put pressure on the seventh cranial nerve - the facial nerve - causing permanent facial paralysis.
- Clavical Fracture - The collarbone may break if proper care is not taken during a difficult vaginal birth.
- Peritonitis, Pneumonitis - A particularly long or stressful delivery can cause the fetus to have a bowel movement in the womb, leaking meconium into the amniotic sac. Serious complications can occur if this material is aspirated by the fetus.
- Brain Damage - Umbilical cord strangulation, a prolonged time in the birth canal, and other factors can cause brain injury from lack of oxygen.
If mother or child was the victim of an injury, accident, or negligence of another during pregnancy, labor or delivery that led to a tragic and avoidable birth injury in Georgia, contact our offices in Atlanta and Decatur at (404) 343-9598 today. All calls are confidential, we offer a free consultation, and we only a charge a fee if we are able to achieve a recovery to help you with your injury or loss.