Common Types of Birth Injuries
Birth injuries should be distinguished from birth defects. Birth defects
generally involve harm to the baby that occurred before the birthing process,
as a result of something that took place before or during the pregnancy.
By contrast, birth injuries typically involve something that goes wrong
during the delivery of the child. Because birth defects sometimes can
result from such things as exposure to environmental toxins or inappropriate
medications during pregnancy, inadequate prenatal care, or improperly
treated viral or bacterial infections during pregnancy, it is wise to
consult an attorney if your child is born with what is diagnosed as a
birth defect. Similarly, if your child has suffered what you believe might
be a birth injury, you should consult an experienced attorney who will
be able to determine whether your child’s injury was the result
of negligence during the delivery process. The question of whether a birth
defect or a birth injury is the result of medical negligence is often
extremely complicated, requiring a careful review of the medical records
and other relevant information. The highly experienced attorneys and medical
staff at Davis Levin Livingston will provide a prompt and thorough consultation,
at absolutely no cost to you, to determine whether your child and family
have a viable legal claim arising out of your child’s injury.
Some types of birth injuries include:
- Perinatal Asphyxia
- Brain damage from oxygen deprivation
- Brain damage from reduced blood flow
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injury (Erb’s palsy / Klumpke’s palsy)
- Shoulder dystocia
- Bone fractures or spinal cord injury
- Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)
- Meconium aspiration syndrome
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)
- Kernicterus or hyperbilirubinemia
- Infection or chorioamnionitis
- Cephalohematoma and subdural hematoma
- Stroke, intracranial hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage or subconjunctival
- Seizure disorder
- Spina Bifida
- Folic acid disorder
- Developmental delays
- Cystic fibrosis
- Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR)
- Mental retardation / intellectual disabilities
Each of these birth injuries can arise from medical mistakes made by medical
professionals. When a physician causes one or more of the conditions listed
above through the provision of medical care that falls below the prevailing
standard of practice (called the “standard of care”), the
physician may be sued for medical negligence. Physicians who have made
such medical errors are not necessarily bad doctors. However, inexperience,
inattentiveness and poor communication are usually among the root causes
of medical negligence. Because physicians understand that medical negligence
may occur despite their best efforts to provide competent care to all
of their patients, they carry medical malpractice insurance to cover any
injuries they might cause through inadvertent negligence. The attorneys
at Davis Levin Livingston have vast experience in working with (and sometimes
against) insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for
What Causes Birth Injuries?
A variety of medical errors can cause birth injuries. Birth injury cases
are considered medical malpractice cases. To prove a birth injury case,
the plaintiff must prove that the care provided by the medical professional
fell below the applicable “standard of care,” and that this
breach of the standard of care caused an injury to the patient. Both of
these elements of proof must be established through the opinions of medical
experts. The birth injury attorneys and medical staff at Davis Levin Livingston
work with leading medical experts from across the United States in order
to develop and present the expert testimony needed to satisfy these burdens of proof.
The following are examples of negligent conduct that may cause birth injuries:
- One common cause of birth injury is a lack of oxygen. A distracted or inattentive
doctor could miss signs that the baby needed more oxygen.
- Another common cause of birth injury is delivering a baby vaginally when
the baby should have been delivered by cesarean section, or improperly
delaying a needed cesarean section.
- A doctor can also fail to take note of the fact that a mother is likely
to have a larger baby because the mother has a condition like diabetes.
The failure to note the size of the baby could prevent the doctor from
discussing, planning for, or ordering a cesarean section, which could
put the baby and mother at risk.
- The medical staff may miss the signs and symptoms of an obstetrical emergency
such as a uterine rupture or a placental abruption, and therefore improperly
delay in diagnosing and treating these life-threatening conditions.
- An obstetrician may make improper decisions during the delivery process
that expose the baby (and sometimes the mother) to avoidable risks. For
example, the physician may err in the use of medications to induce labor,
such as Pitocin.
- Birth injuries may result from a failure by the medical professionals properly
and timely to diagnose or treat a maternal infection (i.e., chorioamnionitis).
- Birth injuries can result from mistakes made by the medical staff during
an attempt to resuscitate a newborn who is having difficulty breathing.
- Blindness can result from a failure properly and timely to diagnose and
treat retinopathy of prematurity.
- Birth injuries can result from an improper delegation of responsibility
to a medical professional who lacks the education, training or experience
to provide the type and level of medical care required by the mother or baby.
- Birth injuries can result from failures by a member of an obstetrical team
to communicate needed information with other members of the team, or with
other professionals involved in caring for the mother and child, resulting
in medical errors that injure the child.
There are many other possible ways in which the negligence of the medical
professionals may cause a birth injury. Indeed, every birth injury case
is unique. In most cases, the treating physicians and other medical staff
involved in your child’s delivery will not share with you any concern
they might have that your child’s injury was caused by their own
negligence. For this reason, it is wise for you to have an experienced
attorney review your unique case to determine whether your child’s
injury was the result of medical negligence. This usually will require
a thorough review of the pertinent medical records, together with whatever
additional information is available, and almost always will require an
analysis of extremely complicated medical and legal issues. The highly
experienced attorneys and medical staff at Davis Levin Livingston will
provide a prompt and thorough consultation, at absolutely no cost to you,
to determine whether your child and family have a viable legal claim arising
out of your child’s injury.
Taking Legal Action After a Birth Injury
Caring for a seriously injured newborn is an enormous challenge both physically
and emotionally. It also can be a time of great confusion and even anger.
Rarely is there a simple and clear-cut explanation for your child’s
injury; indeed, parents often have great difficulty obtaining a satisfactory
explanation of the cause of the injury from their health care provider.
By consulting an experienced birth injury attorney, the parents of an
injured child can take comfort that they are protecting their child’s
legal rights while freeing themselves to devote their full energy to their
child’s life care needs. The experienced birth injury attorneys
at Davis Levin Livingston understand the tremendous responsibility they
have when the parents of an injured child entrust them to protect their
child’s (and their) legal interests. Moreover, the information and
advice that the attorneys and medical staff at Davis Levin Livingston
provide to their clients include the opinions of leading medical experts,
including expert opinions regarding the injured child’s rehabilitation
and life care needs.
Contact Davis Levin Livingston today at (808) 450-3004 for a
free consultation and review of your birth injury claim.