Doctors, nurses, and other team members involved in bringing a child into the world have a responsibility to do all they can to keep mom and baby safe and healthy. Nearly all cases of birth injury result from a failure to uphold this duty. If you suspect your child’s birth injury was a preventable one, and you would like to hold the negligent person legally accountable for the harm caused, an experienced birth injury attorney can help.
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How Negligence Happens
Negligence during labor and delivery may occur when a doctor or other medical professional’s actions cause harm, or when failure to take the necessary steps results in preventable harm.
There are a number of different reasons why a medical professional may become negligent, including lack of training, fatigue, and plain old carelessness. A doctor may fail to use or read an infant heart rate monitor or other medical technology properly, or cause C-section injuries by deviating from the accepted procedural standards. Sometimes, labor and delivery staff may overlook certain warning signs of fetal distress.
If an obstetrician fails to order the proper testing to evaluate the mother’s health, or if test results are misread, this can also lead to a serious birth injury. If a doctor makes medication errors, it can cause irreparable harm to the baby.
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Types of Labor and Delivery Negligence
There are many different ways a doctor or medical worker can make a mistake and cause harm during birth. Examples of labor and delivery negligence include the following scenarios.
- Lack of oxygen to the brain (asyphxia) can cause a wide range of health issues, including brain damage, cerebral palsy, and breathing disorders.
- Use of excessive force can cause physical deformities like Erb’s palsy, cranial and spinal cord injury, bone injury and fractures, and infant brain damage.
- Failure to read heart rate monitor reports correctly can cause doctors to miss important signs of fetal distress.
- Failure to order a C-section at the right time can put a child in danger.
- Failure to take transmission-prevention steps in HIV-positive mothers can cause infection in children.
- Failure to treat high-risk pregnancies with necessary caution can cause birth injury.
- Misuse of vacuum extraction can cause vacuum birth injury
- Failure to prevent or treat umbilical cord strangulation can have fatal consequences.
Determining the Truth
When were signs of distress discovered? Who was in charge of fetal monitoring? Were changes in condition reported to the correct physician and how were they handled? Does the chronological timeline of your child’s delivery make sense?
Your birth injury attorney should be able to evaluate labor and delivery reports to identify signs of negligence. He should have a deep understanding of the C-section standards set forth by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). Finally, he should work with other medical experts to investigate your child’s birth and discover if medical mistakes occurred during delivery.
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Doctor and Hospital Birth Injury Negligence News
Illinois Mother Receives Record-Breaking Payout For Hospital’s Negligence
ABC7 reported on a victory for a single mother whose child was injured due to a hospital’s negligence. She has won a record-breaking $101 million in her lawsuit as well as an agreement for no further appeals.
The judge ruled that the child’s injuries were caused by the hospital because they ignored the mother. The single mother went to the hospital ER because she could no longer feel her unborn baby moving. An ultrasound confirmed it, but it was not reported to a doctor for five hours.
When the baby was born, he needed to be resuscitated. He had permanent brain damage. The baby, who is now five, cannot speak, eat, or sit up on his own. His mother had to turn him over to a charity for care last year because she could no longer stay at home to care for him.
The jury awarded what they felt was enough money so the child could be cared for full-time at home for the remainder of his life and so the mother can help. It is the largest such award in Illinois.
We are glad that the jury sided for the mother after this month-long trial. Five hours of delay in this type of case is horrifically negligent.
Pennsylvania Hospital Searching For Bacteria Source After Three Babies Die
Hospitals, despite cleaning protocols, can be a hotbed of infection. One hospital in Pennsylvania is searching for the source of a waterborne germ that infected eight premature babies and killed three. ABC 6 reported on the search.
So far, three babies have died, four have recovered, and one is still undergoing treatment at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. The hospital has sent other newborns and some mothers to another facility while they search for the source of the infection. State and federal officials are helping in the search.
The bacteria the children faced is common and usually doesn’t cause an infection. However, in people with fragile immune systems, it can cause a problem.
The hospital is diverting children born less than 32 weeks and mothers expected to give birth before then to other facilities. They have been aware of the infection since August.
Water supplies and surfaces in the NICU have turned up negative for the bacteria, but they have increased their sterilization measures. The facility’s NICU sees 600 children a year.
We commend the hospital for stepping up their measures to find the source and to involve officials in the matter. However, we hope that the mothers of the children who died due to this infection can receive compensation for their loss.
This will depend on where the source of the infection came from. If the hospital was negligent in cleaning something, they could be held liable.
Ask Your Doctor About The Risks Of Procedures
Sometimes the treatments a doctor recommends carries risks. It is up to the doctor to inform patients of those risks so their patients can make a decision on their own. This is one way they can reduce the chance of a negligence claim if something goes wrong.
Studies are a major method doctors use to determine which procedures carry risks. Here’s an example from Science Daily.
Premature babies are sometimes given drugs to force them to mature faster if they are at risk. An example is using corticosteroids to speed lung maturation. However, a study last year found that there is a clinically significant reduction in birth size when this technique is used.
While there was no difference in Apgar scores in the lower-birth-weight children, they did require more medical care during the first seven days of life. However, the drug dose did help the lungs to mature.
The study recommends that high-risk patients need to be identified early so that the benefits of corticoid steroid therapy before birth can be weighed against this clear downside.
If a doctor recommends a procedure you’re not familiar with, ask about the risks. You need to know them so you can make an informed choice about your care and the care of your baby.