The joy of a having a new baby can quickly turn to shock and grief if something causes the mother or child to be harmed. Despite technological advances, babies and mothers both face danger during the birthing process. Medical mistakes, or malpractice, during labor and delivery can lead to injury or death to either or both of them.
The medical personnel present for a baby’s birth are expected to monitor the status of the mother and child and to act quickly if problems arise. Medical error or failure to act (negligence) can cause permanent injuries that may adversely affect the child’s life or the mother’s health.
Medical error or negligence are forms of medical malpractice and may constitute cases for which the harmed patient and/or family should be compensated. If you believe your child or your child’s mother was injured because of medical malpractice, it is important that you contact a South Carolina medical malpractice attorney. Labor and delivery malpractice cases are usually very technical and require sophisticated analysis and review of pages and pages of medical records.
Avoidable Injuries to Newborn Babies
The most recent major governmental study of potentially avoidable injuries to mothers and newborns during childbirth was released in May 2009. While it found that the rates of potentially avoidable injuries to mothers during childbirth had declined between 2000 and 2006, it also said nearly 157,700 potentially avoidable injuries to mothers and newborns occurred during childbirth in 2006.
The study, published by a federal-state-private partnership called the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), says that obstetrical trauma during vaginal births with instruments accounted for the highest injury rates.
Physical injuries such as a broken collarbone, head injury, bruising or lacerations can occur when the baby is in an unnatural position and forceps or other medical instruments are used with excessive force to assist in the delivery.
Another common birth injury caused by physical trauma is brachial plexus palsy, an injury to a group of nerves called the “brachial plexus,” which connect the arms to the spinal cord. The disorder, also known as Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy, manifests as paralysis in the shoulders and arms.
A second major cause of birth injuries to the child is oxygen deprivation, which can occur because of several problems or errors, including:
- Compression or twisting that blocks the umbilical cord.
- Umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck.
- Leaving the baby in the birth canal too long.
- Failure to perform a Caesarean section when the baby is in distress.
Lack of oxygen (asphyxia) during birth can lead various brain injuries, including mental retardation or cerebral palsy, an incurable disorder that causes motor control (coordination) problems that can be so severe that the child will never be able to walk or take care of himself or herself.
Cerebral palsy and other birth injuries can cause disabilities that have lifelong consequences for the child and the child’s parents. If a birth injury has been caused by a medical professional’s error, the baby’s parents may be entitled to compensation on behalf of their child. Financial compensation will not make up for the healthy life an injured child will not have, but it can help pay for the expensive, perhaps ongoing, medical care that the child is likely to require.
Attending physicians, nurses, technicians or other medical personnel can also be held liable for failure to monitor the mother’s changing health conditions during labor and delivery, such as high or abnormally low blood pressure or toxemia (toxins in her blood). Additional problems, such as exposure to infection or adverse reactions to anesthesia, may arise if the mother undergoes a C-section.
Proving a labor and delivery malpractice claim is likely to require a lengthy investigation. It requires proving that a medical professional fell short of the standard of care in the treatment of their patient because they either failed to act or acted in error.
The investigation of such a case requires gathering documents pertaining to all procedures and medicines used during the prenatal, delivery and immediate post-natal phases of the child’s birth. These must be reviewed and assessed by medical personnel working for the legal team. Then, for a persuasive case for a finding of labor / delivery malpractice to be made, the lawyers involved must have a thorough knowledge of South Carolina medical malpractice law.
Need a Birth Injury Lawyer? Just Call Joye
If your child suffered a birth injury, the labor and delivery malpractice lawyers of Joye Law Firm can help you seek compensation for the medical bills and other losses your family has suffered. We can investigate your case and give you a fair and honest evaluation of your options for pursuing a legal claim.
- HCUP – Potentially Avoidable Injuries to Mothers and Newborns During Childbirth