Delivering a healthy baby at the end of a pregnancy is the most important aspect of childbirth. Both from the mother’s point of view as well as the medical staff in the delivery room. This, unfortunately, is not always the case. Accidents can happen on the part of the medical staff which leads to an injury to the baby or at times a traumatic birth injury to the mother. Birth injuries can arise as a result of mismanagement of pregnancy, delivery or aftercare. In some cases, injury is not always immediately noticeable at birth. At times injuries to the infant can manifest after months or years following birth.
Types of Medical Issues – Injury or Defect?
Newborns can suffer from two different types of medical issues following birth:
- Birth Injuries
- Birth Defects
Understanding the difference between the two will help you and your solicitor determine if you are eligible to seek a legal remedy.
Birth injuries occur during or immediately after the delivery process. Types of injuries can range from nerve damage, broken bones to brain damage. Birth injuries sometimes can be unavoidable. For example, in instances where the baby is in a breech position. The baby is born in a position with their arms raised over their heads during delivery. This can lead to unavoidable brachial plexus injury. Causing damage to the baby’s network of nerves that send signals from your spine to shoulder, arm and hand.
In other cases, a birth injury can arise due to the actions or in-actions of the medical staff delivering the baby. For example, if a doctor inadequately uses forceps causing nerve damage to the baby.
A birth defect happens as the baby develops in the womb and can affect any aspect of a baby’s body. This may naturally occur as the baby develops. However, it might be a result of toxins or medications that the mother is taking into her body.
Injury to the Baby
Step number one if you are pursuing a birth injury medical negligence claim is determining if the birth injury to the baby was a result of negligence by a third party. Birth injuries to a newborn baby as a result of medical negligence can have different medical complications for the newborn. This type of birth trauma can have life-long effects on the quality of life of the child. Some of the most common reason for childbirth malpractice cases are:
- Brain Damage
- Perinatal Asphyxia – where a newborn does not receive enough oxygen
- Hip Dysplasia
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb’s Palsy – also known as Brachial Plexus Injury (damage to the nerves that send signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand.)
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Pelvic Injuries During Birth
- Facial Paralysis
- Fractures to Collarbone, Arm or Skull
- Untreated Jaundice, Kernicterus and Hyperbilirubinemia
- Forceps Tear Injury
- Forceps and Vacuum Extractor Injuries
Injury to Mother
Injury to the mother can be sustained during before or after the birthing process. These injuries can be a result of medical negligence. Inadequate medical care can lead to the following complications:
- Pregnancy Malpractice/Maternal Birth Injuries – Mismanagement of the Pregnancy
- Complications Caused by Delivery Using Forceps
- Abnormal Bleeding caused by Medical Negligence
- Injury to Bowel or Bladder
- Pelvic Injuries during Birth
- Broken Bones
- Vaginal Tears or Lacerations
- Ruptured Uterus
- Incorrect Caesarean Section
- Pre-eclampsia or Eclampsia
- Incorrect Stitching following Caesarean Section
- Nerve Damage after giving birth
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Wrongful Death of the Mother
- Forceps Injury
Not all births go to plan. Doctors do have to deal with difficult delivery of babies throughout their careers. A difficult delivery is something an experienced doctor should be able to handle. Enabling them to reduce the risk of any unwanted injury to both mother and baby. In cases, the actions or in-actions of medical professionals involved in delivering the baby can lead to injuries to the baby and/or the mother. Some cases of medical negligence that can lead to injury are:
- Incorrect interpretation of ultrasound
- Failure to perform the necessary tests and examinations during pregnancy
- Prescription of the incorrect medication during pregnancy
- Failure to track the baby’s heart rate
- Improper manipulation of the baby’s body during delivery
- Failure to deal with an emergency situation adequately
- Incorrect use of forceps during delivery
- Blunt force trauma to baby or mother
- Delayed birth – When the baby remains in the birth canal for too long, leading to injury from the prolonged pressure from the birth canal on the baby’s brain.
Any of these causes of birth injuries can lead to injuries of varying degrees. Some physical injuries to the baby or mother are noticed immediately and treated immediately. In more severe cases the injury may not be noticed immediately following the birth of the child.