- Birth Injuries: What You Should Know
- March 17, 2017
- Law Firm: Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos A Professional Corporation - Baltimore Office
- Expecting parents should never have to worry that their newborn will suffer at the hands of the medical professionals that they entrust with the child’s delivery. However, far too often, babies suffer injuries during birth due to negligent or improper care by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Such injuries can severely impact parents, children and families throughout the course of their lives.
There are various injuries that can occur during and after childbirth. Common types of birth injuries include:
- Fractures and breaks
- Brain injuries
- Shoulder dystocia
- Cerebral palsy
- Erbs Palsy
Fractures and Breaks
Injuries such as fractures and broken bones can occur when there is substantial stress placed on a newborn’s body. The expected stress of a delivery is exacerbated further when a doctor places additional force on a newborn during delivery. This additional force can result from the use of birthing tools, or from the attempt to physically remove a baby during delivery, and can have severe effects on the baby’s body.
In many cases, doctors or specialists should be able to predict any issues that may occur during a delivery through tests and imaging services. Identifying these risk factors early can provide that injuries are avoided.
Trauma to a child’s brain during birth can have extensive and long-lasting effects for the child and their family. These injuries often affect the physical, cognitive and emotional growth of a child throughout the course of its development. Brain injuries can be caused by trauma to a newborn’s head during or directly after birth.
Brain injuries can also occur as a result of a decreased level of oxygen or blood flow to the head during childbirth. These types of deprivation can cause a newborn to suffer serious health issues, including brain damage.
The term ‘cerebral palsy’ is used to describe various disorders that affect a child’s movement and coordination. This condition is caused by damage to a baby’s brain during development, and cannot be cured. In many cases, cerebral palsy can be linked to something that happened during or immediately after childbirth. In cases where an oxygen deficiency was caused by a difficult or prolonged birth, the development of cerebral palsy may be established as the indirect result of negligence or a poor decision on the part of a doctor, nurse, or another healthcare provider.
Erb’s palsy is a condition that affects a child’s ability to control the movement of his or her arms. Erb’s palsy often results from an injury to the brachial plexus—a nerve bundle where nerves from the spine connect with nerves from the arm. The brachial plexus can be damaged when too much force is applied to a baby’s head, neck, or arms during birth. In some cases, children can recover from Erb’s palsy without surgery. However, the condition often requires a nerve graft that must be performed before a child reaches the age of one, to increase the likelihood of recovery. Further, surgery does not always guarantee full recovery, and a child may be faced with a lifetime of disability.
Despite the prevalence of medical innovations, technology and clinical precautions, medical professionals still make errors. While risks are inherent in any procedure or medical venture, it is the legal obligation of medical professionals to ensure that these risks are minimized as much as possible and that patients do not suffer from preventable harm. This means that any form of negligence, carelessness or wrongful act can not only harm mothers and children during birth, but also subject medical professionals to legal consequences and financial liability. Inappropriate decisions, inaction, inattention and other similar failings to uphold an expected standard of care are common examples of negligence or medical malpractice.