medical malpractice birth injury

A Medical Malpractice Lawyer Explains Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice

The arrival of a new baby is typically a joyous event, but it can also carry significant risks, especially in cases where medical negligence occurs. If your child suffers a birth injury, it not only has lifelong consequences for your child but also for your entire family. The Missouri medical malpractice lawyers at Peterson & Associates, P.C. can provide guidance and support if your family has experienced a devasting birth injury due to a medical professional’s negligence.

Common Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice

A medical malpractice birth injury occurs when a health care provider or medical facility causes harm to the mother or baby before, during, or shortly after childbirth. There are many types of birth injuries that can result from medical malpractice, with the following being among the most common:

Cerebral Palsy 

Cerebral palsy affects a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It can be caused by damage to the parts of the brain responsible for controlling movement, balance, and posture. Medical malpractice can lead to cerebral palsy if health care providers fail to monitor fetal distress during labor, improperly use delivery instruments such as forceps or vacuum extractors, or delay necessary interventions such as a cesarean section. 

Children with cerebral palsy may experience motor impairments, speech and communication difficulties, intellectual disabilities, and seizures, significantly impacting their quality of life and requiring ongoing medical care and therapy.

Erb's Palsy

Erb's palsy, also called brachial plexus birth palsy, is characterized by weakness or paralysis of the arm due to injury to the brachial plexus nerves during childbirth. This injury often occurs when excessive force is applied to the baby's head, neck, or shoulders during delivery, leading to stretching or tearing of the nerves. Medical malpractice may contribute to Erb's palsy if health care providers fail to assess fetal positioning properly, utilize excessive traction during delivery, or neglect to perform a timely cesarean section for conditions such as shoulder dystocia.

Children with Erb's palsy may experience limited mobility and function in the affected arm, requiring specialized treatment and rehabilitation.

Brain Damage Caused by Oxygen Deprivation

Oxygen deprivation during childbirth, also known as birth asphyxia or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), can result in brain damage and neurological deficits. Medical malpractice may play a role in oxygen deprivation if health care providers fail to monitor fetal well-being, respond promptly to signs of fetal distress, or properly manage complications such as umbilical cord compression or placental abruption. 

The consequences of brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation can vary widely, ranging from mild cognitive impairments to severe disabilities such as intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, seizures, and cerebral palsy. Children who experience oxygen deprivation at birth may require lifelong medical care, therapy, and support.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries resulting from medical malpractice-induced birth injuries can have devastating and lifelong consequences for both the child and their family. These types of injuries can happen if a medical professional’s negligence during childbirth leads to trauma to the newborn’s spinal cord. When such spinal cord injuries occur, the consequences can be severe and long-lasting. Depending on the severity of the injury, the child may experience partial or complete paralysis, loss of sensation, impaired motor function, and other neurological deficits. 

Spinal cord injuries can significantly impact the child's quality of life, requiring ongoing medical care, rehabilitation, and support. The cost of medical treatment, rehabilitation, assistive devices, and long-term care can be overwhelming, placing a strain on the family's financial resources.

Impacts of Birth Injuries on Children’s Lives

The impacts of birth injuries caused by medical malpractice can be profound and far-reaching, affecting various aspects of the child's physical, cognitive, and emotional development. Birth injuries may lead to lifelong disabilities, chronic health conditions, and significant challenges in daily functioning. 

Children with birth injuries may require ongoing medical treatment, therapy, assistive devices, and accommodations to optimize their quality of life and participation in society. Additionally, the emotional toll of coping with a birth injury can impact both the child and their family, leading to feelings of grief, stress, and frustration as they navigate the complexities of managing the injury and advocating for the child's needs.

Distinguishing Between a Bad Medical Outcome and Medical Malpractice

Not all bad medical outcomes result from medical malpractice; key factors distinguish cases of negligence from instances where health care providers have adhered to the standard of care. Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider fails to meet the accepted standard of care, resulting in harm to the patient. This may involve errors in diagnosis, treatment, communication, documentation, or informed consent. 

To establish medical malpractice for a child’s birth injury, the following elements must typically be demonstrated:

  • Duty of care. You and your child were owed a duty of care by the health care provider, which is a legal obligation to provide treatment in accordance with the accepted standard of care.
  • Breach of duty. The duty of care was breached by the health care provider through a deviation from the standard of care, such as errors in judgment, skill, or communication.
  • Causation. The breach of duty directly caused or contributed to the birth injury, meaning that the injury would not have occurred in the absence of the provider's negligence.
  • Damages. Your child suffered actual harm or damages due to the health care provider's negligence.

Proving medical malpractice can be complex and often requires expert testimony from qualified medical professionals who can evaluate the standard of care and the provider's actions in the specific circumstances of the case. An experienced birth injury lawyer can assist in the process of determining whether you have the evidence needed to prove your case.

Seek Legal Guidance If Your Child Suffered a Birth Injury

If you believe your child has suffered a birth injury due to medical malpractice, it is essential to seek legal guidance from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Peterson & Associates, P.C. Our knowledgeable lawyers can evaluate the facts of the case, gather evidence, consult with medical experts, and advocate for your family's rights and interests. 

Take the following steps if you suspect medical malpractice:

  • Document the details. Having your child experience a birth injury can be overwhelming, and you may not be thinking clearly. It is important to recall details from your child’s birth and document them while they are still fresh and easy to remember. Keep all medical records, test results, and communications with health care providers that can be used to support the birth injury claim.
  • Seek a medical evaluation. Obtain a comprehensive medical evaluation for your child from qualified health care professionals, including specialists in pediatric neurology, orthopedics, and rehabilitation medicine. This evaluation can help assess the extent of your child's injuries, establish a treatment plan, and prove the severity of the birth injury when filing a medical malpractice claim.
  • Consult with a medical malpractice lawyer. Schedule a consultation with a reputable birth injury lawyer at Peterson & Associates, P.C. Your Missouri medical malpractice lawyer can review the facts of your child’s birth injury case, explain your legal options, and guide you on how to proceed in the best interests of your child and family.
  • Consider legal options. Based on your medical malpractice lawyer's assessment, your family can decide whether to pursue a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit against the responsible health care providers and institutions. Your medical malpractice attorney can handle the legal process on behalf of your family, including filing the necessary paperwork, conducting investigations, and negotiating settlements with insurance companies.
  • Advocate for your child. Throughout the legal process, prioritize your child's well-being and advocate for their best interests. This may involve attending medical appointments, participating in therapy sessions, and ensuring your child receives the necessary support and accommodations for their disabilities.