Common Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice
When visiting a hospital to deliver a baby, you never expect that your child will be injured because of a physician’s negligence. From brachial plexus injury to brain damage, dozens of birth injuries can be prevented if doctors exercise due care throughout the birth process.
At Wagner Reese, our lawyers have decades of experience helping clients file complex medical malpractice claims for birth injuries. We know that the stakes are high when it comes to your child, and we are prepared to fight for justice and fair compensation on your behalf. After all, medical professionals have a duty to provide an acceptable standard of care for expecting mothers and their newborns – and if your medical team failed to meet that standard, they could be legally liable for your losses.
What Are the Most Common Birth Injuries?
Because not every birth injury is reported to the right agencies, it is difficult to accurately determine how many of these injuries occur each year, let alone how many of them are the direct result of medical malpractice. What we do know is that the United States is currently the most dangerous place in the developed world for a woman to give birth, after a USA Today investigation showed that over 50,000 mothers suffer severe childbirth injuries each year. Most developed countries have a decreasing or steady maternal death rate, but alarmingly, maternal death rates in the United States increased drastically from 1990-2015. In fact, Indiana had the third highest maternal death rate out of 47 U.S. states with data available for the years 2012-2016, behind only Louisiana and Georgia. The number of avoidable injuries to new mothers and newborns is also extremely concerning. A 2009 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) report found that over 157,700 potentially avoidable injuries to mothers and newborns occurred in a single year.
Although there is a wide variety in the nature of these birth injuries, there are also some troubling injury patterns that emerge from the data. When these injuries are caused by medical negligence, expecting mothers and their families are well within their rights to bring a lawsuit against the responsible parties.
Here are a few of the most common birth injuries caused by negligence:
- HIE: If your child has been diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), you should hire a birth injury lawyer to investigate precisely what happened and determine if a medical error led to your child’s condition.
- Cerebral palsy: Identified by seizures, a loss of motor control, and delayed development in many affected children, cerebral palsy is a motor disability that is often caused by brain injuries sustained during childbirth. While cerebral palsy can be caused by genetic factors, at least 1 in 5 cases are the result of birth injuries, according to the CDC.
- Bone fractures: During delivery, medical staff may be required to use forceps and other methods to remove the child from the birth canal. If they apply too much pressure, however, it can result in serious bone or joint fractures for the baby, especially on the clavicle and head.
- Nerve damage (brachial plexus injury): One of the most common birth injuries, damage to the brachial plexus – or the nerves around the upper arm and shoulder – can be caused by excessive force and improper manipulation during delivery. There are many different degrees of brachial plexus injury, from Erb’s palsy to Klumpke’s palsy, but all of them can impact arm and hand movement throughout the child’s life.
- Facial paralysis: When medical professionals use delivery and childbirth tools improperly, it can also cause damage to the delicate facial nerves. From an uneven facial appearance to permanent paralysis, this birth injury may require surgery to treat.
- Birth asphyxia: All human beings require oxygen to survive, and when we are deprived of this essential need, there can be serious long-term consequences. Whether caused by umbilical cord issues, a prolonged birth, or a preventable placental abruption, losing oxygen (or birth asphyxia) can leave a baby with lasting damage.
- Preeclampsia: Preeclampsia is one of the most common maternal birth issues, with about 5-8% of pregnant women experiencing this complication. Marked by high blood pressure, dizziness, and swelling during pregnancy, preeclampsia must be diagnosed and treated quickly – or the baby and mother could both be put at risk of injury and death.
Focused Representation for Your Birth Injury Claim
Birth injuries caused by medical negligence are a persistent problem for mothers and their children in the United States, and they can result in significant medical expenses and other future costs. Our birth injury team at Wagner Reese strives to provide an unparalleled level of service and commitment for each case, as well as a full investigation into the circumstances of your child’s birth injury.
Call (888) 204-8440 to schedule your free consultation with our Indianapolis lawyers.