Healthcare professionals are highly regarded and respected for the exceptional healthcare that they provide. Unfortunately, though, mistakes can happen. Such errors can result in your baby suffering a birth injury. In fact, birth injuries are not that uncommon with approximately 6 to 8 babies born out of 1,000 having some birth injury. Being aware of the causes of birth injuries and what steps to take if this should happen to you can determine if you will have a successful malpractice suit if negligence is involved. The most common causes of birth injury are:
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Failure to perform a cesarean section to prevent complications of a difficult birth
- Failure to diagnose and treat health issues in the mother or infant
- Prescribing harmful medications to the mother
Types of Birth Injuries
Your primary goal is to have a healthy baby. But, many things can go wrong during labor and delivery that could injure your baby. The following are common birth injuries that can be a result of negligence.
- Injury can occur from the use of forceps. Often, doctors will use forceps to help the baby through the birth canal. The pressure of the forceps can cause bruising of the baby’s face and head. Facial paralysis can also result and is noticeable when the baby cries. This may require surgery to be corrected.
- Cerebral palsy is another birth injury that can result from some unfortunate events. Premature birth, prolonged labor or lack of oxygen can all lead to this condition. It can also be caused by negligence when medical staff incorrectly uses medical equipment or fail to diagnose and treat jaundice.
- Brachial plexus injury, also commonly known as Erb’s palsy, occurs in one out of 1,000 births. This condition can result from improper delivery practices. The brachial plexus is a network of five nerve groups that extend from the fingers down to the spinal cord and thoracic vertebrae and up to the cerebral vertebrae. Several types of nerve damage can result, including the complete tearing of the nerve root from the spinal cord.
More information on birth injuries can be found here.
What to Do After a Birth Injury Occurs
Birth injuries that are serious can cause lifelong complications. Your child may need a care provider throughout life. Therefore, it is vital for you to seek justice and receive compensation for your situation. The following are steps you should take if your child suffers a birth injury.
- Consult with an experienced attorney familiar with birth injury law. Be prepared to answer questions regarding your pregnancy and the delivery of your baby. Your attorney will begin gathering documentation, including complete medical records.
- You may decide with your attorney to write a demand letter to the doctor, hospital or insurance company. The letter will explain what happened and the amount of compensation you are seeking. This can lead to an early settlement without the need to go to court.
- If the demand letter fails to give you the desired result, you may proceed to file a formal lawsuit. Your attorney will want to wait until your child has reached the point of maximum medical improvement so it can be determined how much compensation you will need.
- The next step in the process is discovery. This is when attorneys for both sides will gather documentation and evidence from each other. An essential part of this process is the expert witness, who would be another doctor in the same field that can explain the birth injury and how your doctor breached the standard of care.
- Both sides will attempt to negotiate. If negotiation is successful, a settlement will be reached. If it isn’t successful, you will go to trial, and the court will decide the case and your compensation amount.
Your child is your primary concern. Knowing what to do after a birth injury can affect your child’s care and quality of life so it is crucial that you seek advice from an experienced attorney who can help you through a complicated process.
Michael Monheit, Esq is one of the founding lawyers of Monheit Law, P.C. where they are dedicated to the protection of individual rights. The firm specializes in birth injury, brain damage, brachial plexus injuries, negligence and malpractice lawsuits.