Birth injuries can be prevented in some cases. Doctors and other medical care providers should monitor the pregnancy, labor, and delivery process to recognize risks and make decisions based on them. This is a part of providing the proper standard of care that every patient is entitled to and should receive.
If a doctor or another care provider is negligent and fails to provide the accepted standard of care, this may lead to birth injuries and support a medical malpractice claim.
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Doctors Have an Obligation to Provide a Certain Level of Care
Many birth injury legal cases focus on medical negligence. If a doctor or another medical care provider carelessly or recklessly deviates from the protocols most doctors with the same training and experience would follow and this leads to a complication, the child may suffer a preventable birth injury.
If doctors and other care providers fail to provide the expected level of prenatal care and watch for complications during labor and delivery, this may lead to situations where the baby could sustain an injury.
For example, imagine the doctor is not monitoring the mother closely and ignores signs of gestational diabetes. The mother’s uncontrolled blood glucose levels may lead to the baby growing larger than normal, increasing the risk for injuries during labor and delivery if the baby becomes stuck in the birth canal. This may lead to shoulder dystocia, in which the baby’s shoulder is caught in the mother’s pelvis, and Erb’s palsy as a result. Erb’s palsy occurs in 0.9 to 2.6 of every 1,000 live births according to the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI).
This doctor and his or her medical team likely had numerous opportunities to recognize that they should have considered a cesarean delivery to try and prevent the baby’s injuries. Over 30 percent of deliveries in 2018 were C-sections according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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Common Risk Factors for Birth Injury
When considering how birth injuries can be prevented, it is important to understand there are numerous risk factors that may increase the chance of an injury. The medical team should watch for, identify, and monitor these factors as they make decisions about how one’s labor and delivery will proceed. These risk factors include:
- Macrosomia: excessive fetal size or weight.
- Macrocephaly: an unusually large head.
- Low birth weight: may be a result of prematurity.
- Oligohydramnios: low levels of amniotic fluid.
- Abnormal presentation: the baby is being delivered in a breech (feet-first), transverse (sideways), or other unusual presentation.
- Maternal obesity or maternal diabetes: these conditions may lead to the baby gaining extra weight.
- Cephalopelvic disproportion: if a mother of small stature is delivering a large baby.
- Difficult birth: a prolonged labor or other issues delivering the baby may require the doctor to use a vacuum or forceps, increasing the risk of injury.
The best way to recognize these risks and take the appropriate action to prevent birth injuries is by having a team of professionals who work together to monitor pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the early neonatal period. According to the NCBI, this team should include obstetricians, radiologists, specially trained nurses, neonatologists, and pediatricians.
Holding a Doctor or Hospital Accountable for Failing to Prevent Your Child’s Birth Injuries
In some cases, birth injuries can be prevented if the team monitoring the mother and baby do their jobs and identify risks as soon as possible. Failure to recognize the risks, or inaction when they become apparent, may be considered negligence and support a medical malpractice claim if the baby suffers injuries.
If you believe this happened to your child, you will need to prove their injuries were preventable and show how the doctor’s negligence allowed them to occur. You should consider working with an attorney who may have access to medical expert witnesses that can testify to how your doctor or care team deviated from the accepted standard of care based on the facts of your case.
You can recover compensation you may be entitled to and hold the doctor and hospital accountable for your child’s injuries, but there is limited time to take action. Each state has its own statute of limitations and may have its own rules allowing you to toll the statute of limitations for birth injury cases, so it is best to speak with a lawyer familiar with the laws in your state.
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Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group to Get Help
At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, our team knows how and why birth injuries may occur, and the most common ways medical negligence can lead to a baby suffering from an injury or impairment. We can help you understand what happened to your newborn, and what you can do to hold a negligent medical staff accountable.
Call (800) 222-9529 for a free case review to discuss your child’s birth injuries with a member of our team.