Birth injuries are a risk associated with the childbirth process. However, many people are unaware that birth injuries can also occur after birth.
Traumatic events that occur shortly after birth can cause birth injuries. These injuries can range from mild to severe and affect different body parts, including the baby’s brain, nerves, and organs. When such an injury occurs, you may need an Indianapolis birth injury attorney to help you receive the compensation your family needs.
In some cases, medical errors or delayed diagnosis can even result in conditions that may not become apparent until after your baby has left the hospital.
Types of Negligence that Occur After Birth
Negligence is a failure to provide adequate care or to act in a way that avoids harm to another person. In the context of newborns, negligence can occur before, during, or after birth, resulting in a birth injury. Some common types of negligence that occur after birth include:
- Newborn Resuscitation Errors: If a baby is not breathing or has a weak heartbeat at birth, healthcare providers must provide immediate resuscitation. Errors in resuscitation, such as delayed or inadequate oxygen delivery, incorrect use of resuscitation equipment, or failure to administer surfactant to premature infants, can result in a lack of oxygen to the brain, causing neurological damage.
- Jaundice Mismanagement: Jaundice is a common condition in newborns that occurs when bilirubin builds up in the blood, causing yellowing of the skin and eyes. If improperly managed, jaundice can lead to kernicterus, a rare but serious type of infant brain damage. Negligence in jaundice management can include failure to diagnose, delay in treatment, or incorrect use of phototherapy lights.
- Breathing Assistance Errors: If a baby is born premature or with a respiratory condition, it may need assistance breathing. Errors in breathing assistance, such as overventilation or underventilation, can cause hypocarbia, lung damage, pneumothorax, or cerebral hemorrhage. This can result in periventricular leukomalacia and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
- Untreated or Improperly Treated Infections: Newborns are susceptible to infections, and if not diagnosed or treated promptly by healthcare providers, it can lead to sepsis, meningitis, or other serious conditions.
- Mismanagement of Intracranial Hemorrhages: Hemorrhages or bleeding in the brain can occur during delivery or shortly after birth, especially if the medical team uses forceps or vacuum extractors. Negligence in managing these hemorrhages can include failure to diagnose and delayed or incorrect treatment, resulting in brain damage, seizures, hearing or vision loss, and cognitive or behavioral problems.
- Failure to Treat Neonatal Seizures: Seizures in newborns can be a sign of underlying neurological problems, such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), and require prompt treatment. Infants often experience involuntary jerking movements during a seizure, which can go unnoticed, so infants at high risk of HIE need to be continuously monitored using electroencephalography (EEG).
Improper management of neonatal seizures can result in cerebral palsy and neurological damage, leading to developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, or learning difficulties.
- Undiagnosed HIE and Failure to Provide Hypothermia Therapy: Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition that occurs when a baby’s brain does not receive enough oxygen or blood during delivery. Failure to diagnose or provide appropriate hypothermia therapy can result in brain damage and, in severe cases, permanent disability or death.
- Failure to Diagnose and Treat Neonatal Hypoglycemia: Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can cause seizures, brain damage, and other neurological injuries in newborns. Failure to diagnose or treat neonatal hypoglycemia can result in long-term neurological problems.
Compensation Owed to Families for Birth Injury Malpractice
When a child suffers a birth injury as a result of medical malpractice, the family may be entitled to compensation for the harm caused. Compensation can help cover the costs of medical care, rehabilitation, and ongoing support for the child, as well as the family’s emotional distress and lost income, if a parent needs to stop working to become a permanent caregiver or if the child is disabled and will be unable to support themselves as an adult.
Types of available compensation include:
- Economic Damages: Economic damages compensate families for the financial losses associated with a birth injury. These damages may include medical expenses, future medical care, rehabilitation, caregiver costs, home modifications (such as to accommodate a wheelchair), and assistive devices. Families may also be compensated for lost income due to caring for the child.
- Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages compensate families for the pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life associated with a birth injury, especially a disabling or fatal injury. These damages may include compensation for the child’s physical and emotional pain and the emotional distress experienced by the family.
Take Action Against Birth Injuries
Birth injuries impact a child’s health and quality of life and their family’s emotional and financial well-being. At Wagner Reese, we understand the devastating effects of birth injury malpractice and are committed to helping families seek justice and compensation for the harm caused.
Our experienced attorneys understand the complex medical and legal issues involved in birth injury cases. We work closely with families to gather evidence, identify responsible parties, and build a strong case that maximizes the compensation owed to them.
If you believe your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical malpractice, take action as soon as possible. Contact us so we can help you understand your legal rights and options and guide you through seeking compensation for your child.