Over the course of a pregnancy and delivery, parents will often be assigned a medical team comprised of neonatologists, nurse practitioners, obstetricians and other professionals, whose primary concern is the health and wellbeing of the child. A mother will most likely interact with these practitioners and develop a relationship with them by attending routine doctor's appointments, by undergoing regular ultrasounds and simply calling for advice. This medical team is heavily involved in a mother's pregnancy from the moment a mother finds out that she's pregnant to the day that she finally delivers, all in an effort to execute a safe delivery devoid of complications.
Whilst being surrounded by a medical team may ease the minds of expecting parents, it doesn't change the undeniable fact that there an abundance of issues that could potentially arise right up to the day a baby is born. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable medical professionals are not infallible and are capable of making mistakes. When a baby is harmed as a result of an oversight or action made by medical professionals while a mother is in labor in the process of delivery, this is deemed a birth injury.
Birth Injuries vs. Birth Defects
Birth injuries and birth defects may seem indistinguishable in the eyes of parents. After all, any harm inflicted to a child is devastating despite which categorization an injury falls under. Nevertheless, if parents are contemplating seeking a legal remedy for their child's injuries, the distinction between a birth injury and a birth defect is pivotal in determining whether a case is viable in a court of law. Proof that a child's condition is proximately caused by a mistake made on the behalf of a healthcare provider, rather than an inevitable occurrence, is the crux of a successful birth injury lawsuit.
Injuries could be caused solely by the negligent actions of a medical professional, or by a complication that was unavoidable (which is known as a birth defect). A newborn can be inflicted with a birth injury when issues occur while a mother is in labor or during a delivery. In cases when an attending doctor, medical staff or hospital facility exercised negligence, a baby may have been wounded due to the misuse of an extraction tool, for example.
However, In cases when a baby may have been harmed due to a birth defect, this harm was inevitable, despite how careful and efficiently an attending doctor operated at any time during a pregnancy. Symptoms of both birth injuries and birth defects may take time to emerge, which may make determining the cause of an injury more difficult as time progresses. But with the help of an experienced legal professional who has access to expert witnesses, there's an increased chance that parents will be able to determine the likely cause of an injury. If it is a birth injury, parents have the right to seek damages for losses through legal recourse.
Types of Birth Injuries
Obstetricians, nurses and other members of a medical team are trained to recognize and mitigate the complexities of prenatal, intrapartum and peripartum care. But despite this training, these teams are made up of human beings whose errors or omissions have the potential to adversely affect a newborn baby. Mistakes such as prescribing the improper dose of medication to an expecting mother, or orders from a doctor to carry out a high-risk delivery without taking the appropriate precautions constitute as medical negligence. It doesn't matter whether this negligence is explicit or unintentional, parents have a right to recover damages if a medical professional is found to be liable for a baby's injuries. Some negligent actions, fortunately, leave a baby unscathed, but in the event that a child is harmed, there are a variety of injuries that may be inflicted. The severity of these injuries is dependent on a number of factors.
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves located within the shoulder. When these nerves are damaged, newborns may experience weakness in the upper arm, lower arm, and hand. Brachial plexus may be caused by excess pressure on a baby's arms during a breech, or feet-first delivery, the excessive stretching of an infant's shoulders while being delivered head first and the jerking of an infant's head and neck as the shoulders pass through the birth canal. This type of injury is less common due to the fact that delivery techniques have overall improved, however, there is still a risk that a medical professional could cause brachial plexus.
Cephalohematoma is diagnosed when doctors notice that there is bleeding underneath the cranium, usually indicated directly underneath one of the cranial bones. Symptoms of this injury, which is a bump that appears on top of a baby's head, typically emerges hours after a baby is born. The bump itself is not dangerous, but it increases the risks of a baby experiencing other complications like anemia, hypotension, jaundice and in rare cases, meningitis. Birthing tools to extract newborns have been known to cause cephalohematoma.
Other types of birth injuries that could be inflicted onto a newborn baby are:
- Cranial hemorrhaging
- Oxygen deprivation
- Erb's palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
How A Birth Injury Affects Mothers
Although a baby's well-being is a prioritized concern for medical professionals and parents alike. Many people tend to disregard the physical and emotional inflictions a mother could be experiencing during this tumultuous time. Obviously, some physical health conditions that are inflicted during delivery may be visible and immediately felt. But some symptoms may take days, months or even years to emerge.
Also, in the event that an infant has sustained severe injuries or has passed away, these circumstances could take a large toll on a mother's mental state. Coping with an injury to a baby could be incredibly stressful, which could lead to issues with her mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder. In some cases, dealing with a birth injury may become so physically and emotionally taxing that mothers may temporarily be unable to properly take care of their child.
Experienced Peoria Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or your baby have been injured due to the medical negligence of a healthcare professional, you should immediately consult with an attorney. Contact the experienced attorneys at Benassi & Benassi for a consultation.