What Types of Birth Injury Can Be Caused by Malpractice?
If your child suffered an injury before, during, or after birth, you might be entitled to compensation. Birth injuries caused by malpractice are a serious legal issue and have lifelong effects, from developmental delays to costly medical bills. A Baltimore birth injury lawyer can help you prove negligence and get justice for your child.
What Is Considered Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is an error, oversight, or omission committed by a physician that results in an injury to the patient. Many birth injuries are caused by malpractice before, during, or after delivery. If your child suffered a birth injury, a Baltimore birth injury lawyer can work to prove malpractice and hold those responsible accountable. Some of the most common birth injuries caused by malpractice include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Birth Asphyxia
- Brachial Plexus Injuries or Erb’s Palsy
- Facial Paralysis
- Skull Fractures
- Caput Succedaneum
- Cesarean Section Injuries
Cerebral Palsy is a birth injury that causes symptoms related to the body’s muscles and motor functions. Finding out your child has cerebral palsy can have devastating emotional and financial effects. You and your family deserve compensation to cover any medical needs your child may have in the future. The symptoms of cerebral palsy can include:
- Spastic or tight muscles
- Impaired motor functions
- Involuntary muscle movements
- Difficulty walking or balancing
Cerebral Palsy is caused by a lack of blood or oxygen to the brain, which is often the result of medical negligence before, during, or after delivery. Symptoms aren’t always evident at birth. It’s possible for babies not to display signs until they are several months old. As a result, some children with Cerebral Palsy depend entirely on ongoing medical care to survive, while others can live relatively normal lives.
Birth asphyxia is a severe birth injury when a baby’s brain and other organs do not receive adequate oxygen. Birth asphyxia can occur before, during, or after delivery. This type of injury can be prevented by accurate monitoring and recognizing the signs of infant distress. If your doctor fails to react to the symptoms of birth asphyxia, that may be considered malpractice.
Brachial Plexus Injuries or Erb’s Palsy
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 1 in 1000 babies are born with Erb’s Palsy. This condition often results from injuries to the baby’s head, neck, or shoulder during delivery. Prolonged and difficult deliveries where medical negligence occurs are major risk factors for this injury. Erb’s Palsy causes weakness in the affected limb and loss of motion. You may notice that your child’s arm is bent inward or that they’re unable to raise it.
While many newborns recover from Erb’s Palsy on their own, countless children with Erb’s Palsy will experience some weakness in the affected shoulder, arm, or hand throughout their lives. There are four main types of Erb’s Palsy.
Neuropraxia injuries occur when the nerve is stretched but not torn. Fortunately, these injuries usually heal within the first three months of the child’s life.
The injury is considered a neuroma when nerve fibers are damaged and scar tissue forms. While some recovery may occur, total recovery is rare.
Ruptures usually require surgery and intensive medical care. They occur when the brachial plexus nerve is completely torn. Ruptures will not heal on their own. Surgery is necessary to reunite the damaged nerve fibers and graft them back together.
Avulsions are the most severe type of brachial plexus injuries. They occur when a nerve is completely and permanently torn away from the spinal cord. Avulsions cause permanent muscle weakness and/or paralysis in the affected arm. A child with this injury may also have drooping eyelids, small pupils, and difficulty breathing on their own.
If the doctor mishandles the baby’s head during delivery, the baby may develop facial paralysis. In some cases, facial paralysis is temporary, and in others, it’s a lifelong condition. Signs of facial paralysis include:
- Difficulty feeding
- Problems with speech
- Loss of facial control
- A drooping mouth
Deliveries that use forceps or vacuum devices to extract the baby forcibly can turn dangerous and cause severe skull fractures. Bleeding under the cranial bones, or cephalohematoma, is also commonly caused by birth-assisting tools. Complications of cephalohematoma include anemia, jaundice, low blood pressure, and infections such as meningitis.
This injury occurs when a baby experiences too much pressure during delivery. The result is swelling of the scalp and a bruised or discolored appearance. Caput Succedaneum is not life-threatening, and the injury usually heals on its own without medical intervention.
Cesarean Section Injuries
In many cases, a cesarean section can actually prevent birth injuries by providing a safer delivery option for both mother and baby. A doctor may decide to perform a cesarean section for reasons that include:
- Problems with the placenta
- An infant in breech position
- Fetal distress
- Twins or multiple births
- An unsuccessful attempt at a vaginal birth
Surgeries always have risks, and critical errors can occur before, during, or after a cesarean section. Possible birth injuries caused by cesarean sections include brain damage, infant breathing problems, and other issues that can result from delayed surgery.
Delayed Cesarean Section
Time is of the essence when performing a cesarean section, particularly in the case of emergencies. Delays of even a few minutes can cause lifelong injuries or disabilities. In addition, if the baby is too large or stuck in the birth canal for too long, they can suffer dangerous oxygen deprivation. Lack of oxygen to the brain is a significant cause of brain damage and birth injuries. Therefore, it can be considered malpractice if your doctor delayed or didn’t perform a cesarean section when it was medically necessary.
Medical Errors During Surgery
Cesarean sections are generally safe surgery, but medical errors can occur with the potential to cause injury. Lacerations, bone fractures, nerve injuries, and brain injuries can occur if the doctor makes a critical error during a cesarean section. These surgical injuries can result from malpractice or medical negligence.
How a Baltimore Birth Injury Lawyer Can Help
When faced with the difficult reality of a child that’s suffered a birth injury, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. One question you may have for a birth injury lawyer is how long you have to file a malpractice claim. The answer depends on where you live but generally ranges between 2-3 years. For example, you have up to three years post-birth to file a birth injury malpractice claim in Baltimore.
However, you should file your claim as soon as possible to give it the best chance to succeed. Caring for a child with a birth injury is often expensive, and your family can be compensated for medical bills. Proving medical negligence and malpractice is a long and complex process. An expert birth injury attorney can help you navigate that process and help bring about the best possible outcome for your claim.
When your child suffers a birth injury, knowing your rights is essential. You and your family can receive significant compensation to cover the medical expenses necessary for your child to get the care they need. Contact the legal professionals at Peter Angelos Law to find out how we can help you fight to get the compensation and justice you deserve.