The birth of a child is supposed to be one of the most joyous times in a person’s life. That is why injuries that occur during childbirth or immediately afterward are so devastating to parents and families. We routinely place our faith in doctors who specialize in childbirth and post-natal care. When that faith ends up misplaced, the law allows families to recover damages for the trauma that a birth injury can cause.
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Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries are any number of medical conditions that can occur at or immediately after the birth of a child, most of which can be life-threatening. However, even if they are not life-threatening, the damage caused during a birth injury can last a lifetime.
- In some cases, a child’s brain can be deprived of vital blood flow or oxygen. These injuries may be caused by the misuse of birthing tools, such as forceps. Aside from permanent damage to the brain, episodes where the brain lacks enough oxygen can also result in fetal stroke or seizures.
- As a doctor attempts to pull a child out of the mother, the baby’s shoulder may block passage, or make passage out of the birth canal more difficult. In attempts to extract the child, excess pulling by a physician can result in stretched or detached nerves in the baby’s neck. In some cases, this can lead to permanent loss of function in some or all of the child’s arm.
- Babies may be diagnosed with hypoglycemia. While not life-threatening, it can be if the condition is not recognized and taken into consideration by attending medical staff not just at the time of birth, but before birth, and immediately afterward.
- Preeclampsia is a relatively common complication at birth. This condition, which is actually a condition in the mother caused by high blood pressure, can be life-threatening if it is not quickly recognized and diagnosed by a health care provider.
- It was once thought that the cause of cerebral palsy was unknown. However, we now know that this condition is in part caused by injuries to a child while the mother is in labor, and during delivery. Along with all the other conditions and disabilities caused when a baby’s forming brain is deprived of oxygen, cerebral palsy is now understood to also be caused by oxygen deprivation. Compression of the umbilical cord or other conditions in the mother that are not recognized and acted upon by the physician can all cause this oxygen deprivation.
- With modern technology, there are many kinds of surgeries that can be performed on a fetus while it is still in the womb. However, some doctors fail to perform these procedures, or simply opt against doing them. A number of diseases, disabilities, and conditions can be caused by the failure to perform in-utero surgery.
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What Is Malpractice?
Of course, not every injury during childbirth is caused by malpractice. Medical malpractice is when a doctor does something that an ordinary and prudent doctor of the same specialty would not do, or when a doctor fails to do something (such as failing to prescribe medicine, recognize a symptom, or perform a procedure) that a reasonable doctor in the same situation would have.
In a malpractice case, a victim must demonstrate that had a doctor acted prudently, reasonably and in a way that another doctor in the same situation would have acted. Additionally, a victim must show that the injuries to the child would not have occurred, or would have been lessened, had the doctor acted properly.
Investigation of Birth Injury Cases
In many cases, a thorough review of medical records will be performed by your birth injury lawyer, as well as any experts that your lawyer retains to assist him or her.
In cases where babies sustain birth injuries, there may not just be a liability by the delivering or attending doctor. Nurses, hospital staff, and doctors who provided pre and post-natal care may also have liability. An investigation will reveal when a preventable condition could and should have been discovered and treated, or else will reveal what procedure was performed negligently to cause the child’s injury.
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Damages Caused by Birth Injuries
If a child has suffered a birth injury because of malpractice, the cost of providing care for the child during his or her lifetime can be significant. A child may need special medical or assistive devices or adaptations to the child’s home. Children may need ongoing, continuing therapy from a number of specialists. Additional medical procedures, such as surgeries may be needed, and a child’s condition may lead to numerous hospitalizations.
In some cases, it may take time to ascertain exactly what a child’s damages are. Some conditions caused by childbirth injuries will go away in time. Some, however, are permanent.
A birth injury lawyer may need to see whether the child’s condition is caused by negligence by a doctor, or whether it is caused by something else, such as a disease, condition, or simply natural delayed development.
In 2007, one Ontario judge awarded a victim $5.2 million after a child suffered neurological injuries. Another news report uncovered that although doctors are being encouraged to use forceps in deliveries to lessen the amount of C-Sections, many doctors are untrained in how to safely use forceps. Courts and the public have come to understand just how serious and devastating these kinds of injuries can be.
The Peterborough birth injury lawyers at Preszler Law Firm understand how devastating it can be for a family that has a child that has sustained an injury at childbirth. Birth injury cases are complex and require legal and medical knowledge, thorough investigation, and coordination with medical experts. Call us today to discuss any injuries you or a loved one may have suffered as a result of a birth injury.