A birth injury can be a traumatic experience for both the child and the parents involved. Birth injuries can cause lasting physical damage to the newborn and can remain a problem well throughout the child's life, often being accompanied by other psychological symptoms. While birth injuries can sometimes occur naturally as a result of genetics or other incidents, they oftentimes occur as the result of medical malpractice. Parents raising children who suffer from debilitating birth injuries typically face mounting medical bills and expensive procedures, and as such should speak with a medical malpractice attorney to explore their legal options to cover these expenses.
Prevalence and Definition
Birth injuries are classified as any harm or injury caused to a baby; this harm or injury can occur before, during, or even after birth. According to Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project data, nearly 157,700 birth injuries that occurred to mothers and children in 2006 were preventable injuries. These preventable injuries occurred most often during vaginal birth with instruments.
Complications during pregnancy account for a percentage of birth injuries, although there are many different causes for harm. Anything from oxygen deficiency, to miscalculation by hospital staff, to even minor negligence can result in lasting damages to a newborn.
Birth injuries can cause a variety of maladies to a newborn or not-yet born child. These can include brain damage due to oxygen deficiency, fractured or broken bones, cerebral palsy, and skin problems.
However, these problems do not simply stop at birth. A child that has sustained any or all of these injuries can experience lasting damage throughout his or her life. Cerebral palsy and brain damage, for instance, will inevitably affect the quality of the child's life, and can cause chronic psychological problems and physical impairments.
Causes for Injury
Birth injuries can sometimes be attributed to natural causes, such as the umbilical cord cutting off the oxygen supply to the infant's brain. Mistakes made by hospital personnel, though, can be just as devastating. These mistakes may include:
- Poor or improper use of a vacuum during a Caesarian section.
- Failure to remove the baby from the birth canal after an unsafe period of time.
- Failure to switch to Caesarian birth, despite indications of large birth weight or other abnormal characteristics.
- Aggressive use of forceps when removing the infant from the birth canal.
Each of these mistakes can lead to a birth injury, and are too often made by hospital staff or physicians.
Seeking Help: Can I File a Lawsuit?
Every expecting parent of course would prefer to prevent birth injury, both to mother and child. Frequent checkups and consultations with a doctor may help reduce the risk. However, when a birth injury has occurred, parents typically find themselves wondering whether their child’s injury was the result of medical malpractice.
If you think your newborn baby has received a birth injury as a result of medical malpractice, there are places to turn for help. While the injuries sustained can be a miserable experience for the newborn, they can also be costly and time consuming for the parents. Consulting with an experienced medical malpractice or personal injury attorney is the best way to determine if you can file a malpractice lawsuit against the hospital staff. While no amount of money can ease the pain parents feel over the injury to their child, an experienced medical malpractice attorney will work hard to ensure that the injured child and/or the child's parents receive compensation to assist them with medical expenses, therapies, and other injuries and losses.