Without question, the entire birthing process itself is a traumatic for all parties involved; there is nothing easy associated with it. As a result, there are physical, emotional, and financial challenges associated with having a child. Because there are so many possible complications that may arise, it is not too uncommon that there may be birth injuries that result to both the child and the mother. In fact, most birth injuries are just a natural incident to having a child and do not implicate medical malpractice at all.
However, sometimes it may be difficult to determine what causes are natural and unavoidable, and what causes are the result of medical malpractice. There are some obvious causes of birth injuries that are simply natural and unavoidable whereas some other injuries are clear incidents of medical malpractice. But that is not the rule, but rather the exception to the rule. Admittedly as a New York medical malpractice attorney, the line between determining what is an unavoidable birth injury and what is a medical malpractice is quite a fine line. Unfortunately, the closer to that fine line one gets coupled with a long passage of time after the birth of the child and the injuries, the less likely a victim of a possible New York medical malpractice claim will collect.
Thus, I want to provide some common causes of birth injuries naturally caused, as well as some causes of birth injuries which may indicate New York medical malpractice.
By way of definition first, a birth injury is generally considered to be any injury that occurs during the birth process. Some non-medical malpractice causes of birthing injuries are generally caused by the baby’s size or position. Some causes of natural birth injuries are the following:
- Large babies – when a baby is over 8 pounds, 13 ounces, there is a significant risk of having birthing injuries just due to the sheer size of the baby.
- Premature babies – babies born before 37 weeks have more fragile bodies and are more easily injured. Some babies that are very premature actually go right into intensive care for premature babies called a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit).
- Prolonged labor – the longer the period of labor continues, the more likely there will be injuries to the baby.
- Abnormal birthing presentation – a baby could come out head first (crown), legs first (breech), or sideways. The easily is generally head first following by breech; sideways is almost always impossible without manipulation. However, there could be a significant risk of birthing injuries when the baby comes out breech or sideways.
- Cephalopelvic disproportion – birth injuries could result from the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis which is inadequate for the birth process. Attempting to birth the child this way may squeeze and cause injuries to the baby.
These causes of birth injuries may cause a variety of injuries. For both natural and New York medical malpractice causes of injury, there are a few general injuries. Some of these birth injuries include the following:
- Cerebral palsy – this is a group of disorders involving the brain and nervous systems that control functions such as movement, seeing, hearing, and cognitive functions. This is commonly caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain at birth, bleeding or infections in the brain, infections in the mother during pregnancy, and severe jaundice.
- Caput Succedaneum – this is swelling of the soft tissues around a baby’s scalp. It commonly occurs when the baby had to be delivered with vacuum extraction and will generally subside within a few days.
- Cephalohematoma – this is an area of bleeding between the bone and its covering and often happens several hours after birth with a raised bump on the baby’s head. Luckily, the baby’s body will reabsorb the blood. However, this might take between two weeks to three months to disappear completely.
- Bruising/forceps marks – from use of the forceps to assist the baby through the birth canal which may leave temporary marks or bruises on the baby’s face and head
- Subconjunctical hemorrhage – breakage of small blood vessels in the eyes of the baby which creates a red halo on the iris. As horrific as this sounds, it actually does not cause damage to the eyes and is usually gone in 7 to 10 days.
- Facial paralysis – during labor or birth, pressure on the baby’s face which causes damage to the baby’s facial nerve and is evidenced when the baby cries but half of his or her face does not move. If the nerve is bruised, it will heal within a few weeks but if the nerve was torn, surgery will be needed to repair the damage.
- Brachial palsy – this occurs when there is an injury to the brachial plexus (group of nerves that supplies both the arms and hands). In most occurrences, the brachial palsy resolves by itself within 24 hours or less. However, if there is bruising and swelling around the nerves, it may take months to resolve itself. If there is tearing, that may result in permanent damage.
- Fractures or breaks – commonly, the clavicle (collarbone) is the most common fracture during labor and delivery when trying to deliver the baby’s shoulder—particularly when the baby is coming out leg’s birth (breech). Luckily, this break or fracture will heal very quickly and a little lump will form on the bone as new bone grows over it rapidly.
Technically speaking, all of these injuries may be suspicious—that is what makes that fine line I mentioned above tricky. But there are some common injuries for New York medical malpractice that should be evaluated by a trained New York medical malpractice attorney. The first is cerebral palsy. This is very fact dependant and the longer the claim goes unevaluated, the less likely there will be evidence to prove you claim. Sometimes the medical staff will inappropriately or even slothfully work to deliver the baby which may cause the oxygen deprivation.
Another claim that should always be evaluated are broken bones in other parts of the body such as legs and arms. Even in a baby, these bones are still fairly tough. Breaks here need to have some very good explaining. Another claim would be excessive forceps marks. Sometimes doctors over-use, inappropriately use, or press too hard which can cause very serious injuries to the baby. Massive bleeding at birth and permanent disfigurement should be evaluated to see if the use of the forceps was actually warranted or not to the extent that injuries such as these resulted. Lastly, brachial palsy might be a clear sign of medical malpractice for the sole reason that the staff may not have properly sonogrammed the child under labor was induced and the child was coming. A pulling at a stuck baby’s arms would cause an injury like this, and it may not have been necessary to cause an injury such as that if the medical staff conducted a C-section instead.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.