Women have been giving birth for centuries, and yet the United States still has an alarming rate of birth injuries and maternal deaths. Injuries to infants during birth are quite common, and unfortunately, this not only can affect the child for the rest of their life, but their parents as well.
After all, they trusted their physician to help them enjoy the journey of having a child, and now they may be forced to care for a child for the rest of their life, never see their child develop like others their age, and possibly even have a shorter lifespan.
Understanding the common errors physicians make, the ones that lead to injuries during birth are critical for any expectant parent. If your child does suffer injury, or you suffer a serious injury during the birth of your child, you also should exercise your right to compensation. Meet with an attorney that has handled birth injury cases immediately and see if you have a viable case.
What Are the Most Common Mistakes Made by Physicians That Lead to Birth Injuries?
There are a variety of causes for birth injuries, but some are more common than others. Most importantly, a vast majority of these errors are 100% preventable – which means the physician has committed malpractice.
1. Failing to Monitor the Fetus during Labor
One of the more common mistakes physicians and labor and delivery staff members make is not monitoring the fetus during labor. It is critical that physicians monitor the baby’s progress, including using a fetal heart rate monitor to keep an eye out for fetal distress. Once the distress is detected, physicians must take emergency action – sometimes conducting an emergency C-section to prevent the infant from being starved of oxygen.
Failure to monitor during labor and delivery can often lead to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which occurs when the baby does not receive proper oxygen to the brain. Often, this causes permanent damage and the child may have conditions like cerebral palsy or epilepsy the rest of his or her life.
2. Failure to Monitor throughout Pregnancy
Sometimes fetal distress occurs long before labor and delivery, which is why women go to frequent OB/GYN visits throughout those nine months. During that time, a physician should look for any warning signs that there may be a problem, including:
- Decreases in fetal movement
- Failure to grow to the proper stage during pregnancy
- Abnormal or inadequate amniotic fluid amounts
- Maternal cramps
- Insufficient weight gain by the mother during her pregnancy
- Excessive weight gain during pregnancy
- Abnormal results after conducting a biophysical profile
- Abnormal blood test results or amniotic fluid result tests
3. Failure to Identify Risk Factors
Specific factors with the mother and her family history can play a role in whether the baby is healthy once born. Also, it can put a woman at higher risk for a complicated labor and delivery, which could result in harm to the fetus.
Some common risk factors include:
- The age of the mother – women over the age of 35 are at higher risk for complications than younger mothers.
- Any history of genetic defects or genetic illnesses that can be passed on by generations.
- The mother’s use of alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription medications, and smoking while pregnant.
- Any medical conditions the mother may have, such as diabetes.
4. Underestimating the Weight of the Child
Most physicians will closely monitor the size of the baby during ultrasound visits, and it is critical for a physician to monitor the size of the baby to determine if a safe vaginal delivery is possible. In some cases, a mother may not be able to give birth naturally, especially to a larger baby, which will require pre-planning for a C-section.
When the physician only realizes the infant is too big when trying to deliver, it can lead to complications for both mother and child. Not only may they be forced to use controversial techniques (such as forceps or vacuum suction), but they may have to perform an emergency C-section, which puts both mother and baby at higher risk for complications. The infant could also be deprived of oxygen, suffer from ligament and muscle damage, and the mother could suffer from extensive bleeding.
5. Waiting too Long to Act
A physician might be aware their patient needs extra attention, and they might even monitor well during the labor and delivery phase. However, they may take too long to act, which could result in injuries to mother and baby (or example, a physician that waits too long to perform a C-section, leaving the baby with a lack of oxygen and permanent brain deficits).
The Elements of Malpractice Still Apply
Birth injuries are often preventable, and to hold a physician accountable for malpractice, expectant parents must still prove the standard elements, such as:
- The physician deviated from the standard of care, which means that in the same position, with similar training and background, another physician would have acted differently and there would have been a more positive outcome.
- The deviation from the standard of care is what caused the infant’s injuries.
- The injuries resulted in damages, both physical, emotional, and financial.
Once you can establish these cornerstone elements, you will have the foundation you need to file a malpractice claim against the physician, nursing staff, or even the hospital where the birth injury occurred.
Meet with an Attorney Regarding Your Birth Injury Case
The most important step after you or your infant suffers a birth injury is to talk with an attorney. Malpractice cases are complex, and not all bad medical outcomes are the result of negligence. Therefore, you need a physician who can review your case and help fight for your right to compensation if you do have a viable claim.
These cases often have higher settlement values, especially when a child is left disabled for the rest of his or her life. Therefore, you will be facing an insurance company that is ready to use a team of attorneys to disprove negligence and do whatever it takes to lessen your compensation – even if you have a valid claim.
Get started by talking with attorney, Seth Gladstein, from the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, now. Schedule a free case evaluation by calling the office or contact us online with your questions.