Omaha Birth Injury Lawyer
The arrival of a new baby should be a joyous occasion. However, a happy moment can turn into terror when something goes wrong during childbirth and threatens the baby’s health.
Medical Malpractice Services
A serious birth injury can mean a lifetime of difficulties and medical costs. Thankfully, most birth injuries to children are preventable as long as the doctor diagnoses and treats foreseeable issues during pregnancy, and makes quick and informed decisions during labor and delivery. But not all do.
There is nothing worse than knowing your child was injured by the negligence of a medical professional. If this is the case, the physician, nurse, or hospital that contributed to the injury should be accountable for the cost to treat the birth injury and give your child a rich, full life.
Birth injuries are injuries to a newborn that occur when something goes wrong during labor and delivery. They tend to be caused by healthcare providers due to inattention, inexperience, or poor communication.
Some birth injuries are temporary; others can be permanent. One especially dangerous labor complication is shoulder dystocia, where a baby’s shoulder gets stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone on the way out of the birth canal. If a doctor doesn’t intervene correctly, the baby can suffer nerve damage, brain damage, or even death. Here are the serious birth injuries babies can sustain in poorly managed childbirth:
- Brachial plexus injury: Common after a doctor tries to get a baby out of the birth canal by pulling, twisting, stretching, or otherwise manipulating the head and neck too acutely. The brachial plexus is a nerve bundle underneath the collarbone that connects the arm to the spinal cord, and it can be stretched or torn by aggressive maneuvers. Trauma to the brachial plexus can lead to:
- Erb’s palsy: Partial paralysis of the arm, caused by damage to the upper nerves of the brachial plexus. Erb’s palsy affects the shoulder and upper arm.
- Klumpke’s palsy: Partial paralysis of the arm, caused by damage to the lower nerves of the brachial plexus. Infants with Klumpke’s palsy have weakness or paralysis of the lower arm, wrist, and hand; and the hand usually takes on a permanent, claw-like shape.
- Global or total brachial plexus birth palsy: The entire arm is weakened or completely paralyzed.
- Cerebral palsy: Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain’s motor control area. It is a neurological disorder(s) that affects a person’s ability to move. It can develop from an infection to either the mother or infant, oxygen deprivation during labor and delivery, or simply be congenital. Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition without a cure. It isn’t always visible right after birth, but becomes more obvious further in the child’s development. Here are the common symptoms of cerebral palsy in babies:
- Feels floppy when picked up (a sign of low muscle tone)
- Can’t hold head up
- Has delayed development
- Has difficulties with feeding and swallowing
- Uses one side of the body more often
- Displays poor muscle control
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): This technical term means widespread brain damage. HIE usually take place when a child is deprived of oxygen for a period of time, such as during prolonged labor. HIE is also known as birth asphyxia or perinatal asphyxia. The child will likely suffer developmental delays, epilepsy, intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities as a direct result of HIE. Immediate treatment is vital after birth to lessen the impact of the brain damage as much as possible.
- Placental complications: The placenta organ develops during a pregnancy and attaches to the uterine wall of the mother, providing the baby with necessary oxygen and nutrients through the umbilical cord. It is possible for the placenta to “malfunction” and cause serious damage to the baby:
- Placenta previa: When placenta previa occurs, the placenta partially or totally covers the mother’s cervix. Placenta previa can cause severe bleeding during pregnancy and delivery of a child.
- Placental abruption: Placental abruption occurs when the placenta ruptures, separating from the wall of the mother’s uterus too early, before childbirth, causing the infant to be deprived of essential nutrients and oxygen.
- Placental insufficiency: This occurs when the placenta does not develop properly or is damaged somehow. The mother’s blood supply either decreases or doesn’t adequately increase, and without adequate blood supply, the fetus does not receive enough oxygen or nutrients.
- Delayed C-section injuries: If a C-section is delayed, it can result in serious harm to the mother and child. A baby may be deprived of oxygen, resulting in brain injuries that will affect growth and development. For mothers, delayed C-sections could mean excessive blood loss and serious damage to the uterus or pelvis.
- Facial paralysis: Facial paralysis or palsy can occur following complications during labor. The facial nerve, called the seventh cranial nerve, can be damaged by a medical instrument like forceps, the pelvic bone, or a doctor's forceful hand. While a relatively uncommon birth injury, facial paralysis can be extremely damaging and may be a lifelong condition.
- Uterine rupture: When a uterine rupture occurs, the mother may experience severe bleeding and a dangerous drop in blood pressure. When the mother’s blood pressure drops, blood flow to the baby is reduced, which also reduces the amount of oxygen provided to the baby. If a tear is big enough, and baby may be pushed into the abdominal cavity, and have to be delivered early to save its life.
- Broken bones: Bone injuries during birth typically occur when an excessive amount of pressure is inflicted on the skeletal system of a baby. Most fracture injuries involve the baby's clavicle or collarbone. Many clavicle injuries are the result of breech birth, which occurs when the child is delivered feet-first instead of head-first.
- Labor medication injury: Medications given to newborn children or pregnant women can cause serious injuries, especially during the labor or delivery process. If medical professionals make a mistake in the type of medication they provide, the mother or child can sustain serious systemic trauma that can carry lifelong consequences.
Birth injuries can come from the improper use of forceps or a vacuum extractor. They can also come from inappropriate handling of the infant, or administration of the incorrect medication. In many cases, birth injuries could have been prevented if medical providers took the correct steps.
Birth injuries are a relatively common occurrence. Most are minor and can be resolved quickly or naturally, such as bruises, scalp swelling, or fractures. Others are not. In order to prevent serious birth injuries, physicians should:
- Recognize and treat maternal infections
- Recognize and treat prolapsed umbilical cord
- Recognize cephalopelvic disproportion (when the baby’s head is too large for the mother’s pelvis) and plan accordingly
- Monitor fetal distress and take action immediately
- Perform an emergency C-section if necessary
- Use birth-assisting tools, such as forceps and vacuum extractors, only if trained to do so, and when the use of tools is appropriate for the situation
- Use approved maneuvers in the case of shoulder dystocia
If your doctor didn’t take the necessary preventative steps to help your baby, and your baby suffered a serious birth injury, it may be a case of medical negligence.
If you think your baby suffered injuries due to the negligence of your healthcare providers, the best thing to do is speak to an experienced Omaha medical malpractice lawyer and discuss your options. Long-term treatment may be necessary after a birth injury, and you and your loved ones deserve to be compensated for the hardship you have endured.
A lawsuit can’t reverse the pain and suffering you and your child have been through, but it can help with medical payments to treat the injury. It may also keep another family from experiencing the same pain and frustration. Call our legal team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234 for a free, confidential consultation. As parents ourselves, we advocate strongly for the best interests of children.
- What Are Some Common Complications During Labor and Delivery?
- Birth Injuries in Newborns - Merck Manual
- Childbirth Problems - MedlinePlus
- NICHD - Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
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