Birth Injuries Commonly Caused by Medical Malpractice
Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on May 17, 2017 in Medical Malpractice News
Severe birth injuries are a real possibility during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the first month of life. Some occur naturally, while others are the result of medical malpractice.
If your child suffers from one of the following birth injuries that are commonly caused by medical malpractice, you should contact our New Jersey birth injury attorneys right away.
If a medical professional’s negligence caused your child’s injury, you may be entitled to compensation that can help cover the high costs of raising a child with a birth injury.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a permanent birth injury that affects a child’s motor functions due to weak or overdeveloped muscles. There are several types of CP that vary in severity and symptoms. Some symptoms of CP can include:
- Spastic muscles
- Involuntary or uncontrolled muscle movement
- Limited range of motion
- Delays in speech development
- Difficulty walking or balancing
- Poor coordination and movement
- Developmental delays
This type of injury can be caused by a lack of oxygen or blood to the brain, infections during pregnancy or after birth, premature birth, and other complications.
Often, these situations are the result of a medical professional’s negligence, such as:
- Failure to identify that the fetus was deprived of oxygen
- Failure to identify umbilical cord issues restricting oxygen
- Jaundice that was left untreated
- Not performing a C-section when necessary
- Negligent use of delivery-aiding equipment, such as forceps or vacuum instruments
Injuries to the Brachial Plexus
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that send signals from the spine to the muscles that control the shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands.
Injuries to the brachial plexus occur when these nerves are stretched, pulled, compressed or ripped apart. This can occur if a medical professional:
- Uses excessive force or pulling during labor and delivery
- Incorrectly uses birth-assistance tools, such as a vacuum or forceps
- Fails to prepare for a difficult birth
- Allows a child to be delivered feet first
Brachial plexus injuries can vary in their severity and can be classified as:
- Neuropraxia – As the most common and least severe type of brachial plexus, neuropraxia occurs when the nerves are stretched, causing minor tears or strains. This can cause muscle weakness, numbness, burning or tingling, and sensitivity to the area.
- Erb’s Palsy – Also known as a rupture of the brachial plexus, this type of injury occurs when the nerves in the upper arm are damaged. This can cause weakness or paralysis in the arms and shoulders, loss of sensation and motor function, and weak grip. The affected arm may hang limp or be bent toward the body.
- Klumpke’s Palsy – This type of injury affects the lower part of the brachial plexus nerves and may occur when the arm, which is extended above the head, is pulled to free the baby from the birth canal. It can lead to muscle atrophy, total loss of feeling in the arm or hand, joint stiffness, and drooping eyelids on the opposite side of the body where the injury occurred.
- Neuroma – This occurs if scar tissue grows around and over an injured nerve, causing pressure on the nerve and making it difficult to send signals to muscles.
Birth asphyxia occurs when a baby’s brain or other organs do not receive enough oxygen before, during or after birth. Also known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, birth asphyxia can cause damage to the baby’s brain.
This birth injury can be caused by a prolapsed or compressed umbilical cord, placental abruption, or uterine rupture.
If a doctor fails to react quickly if an infant is in distress, birth asphyxia may be linked to malpractice. This type of birth injury can be prevented with accurate monitoring and by taking the necessary steps to deliver a distressed baby quickly, such as performing an emergency C-section.
Facial paralysis can occur if a baby’s face is exposed to high levels of pressure during delivery. If your baby is unable to close his or her eye on one side of the face, or if one side of the face is not making movements, it may be the result of facial paralysis.
Mild injuries may clear up in a few weeks, while more extensive damage can cause total paralysis to one side of the face.
Other Common Birth Injuries
Other common birth injuries include:
- Bone fractures – This can be caused by a doctor pulling too hard on the baby during delivery.
- Cephalohematoma – This is bleeding under a cranial bone often caused by birth-assisting tools. This injury can put the baby at risk of developing anemia, low blood pressure, jaundice or meningitis.
- Caput succedaneum – This causes soft tissue swelling on the baby’s scalp. Negligent use of a vacuum extractor during delivery can cause this injury.
Get Legal Help if Your Child Suffered a Birth Injury
If your child sustained a preventable birth injury while in the uterus, during labor and delivery, or in the period immediately following birth, you may have legal options.
Caring for a child who has suffered a birth injury is a significant task. A medical malpractice lawsuit may help you obtain compensation for medical bills, therapy, prescription medication, long-term care, lost wages and more.
A lawsuit can also help you hold the medical facility and liable health care professional responsible for their negligence.
The birth injury lawyers at Lynch Law Firm are dedicated to seeking justice for families like yours. We will work to hold negligent medical providers accountable while maximizing your compensation.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation to learn more. We will not charge any fees unless we recover compensation for you.
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