Watching your newborn suffer from a serious injury or illness can be a frustrating and traumatizing experience, even more so when the injury or illness is caused by a medical professional’s mistake or error. Although parents are conditioned to place a great deal of trust in medical professionals during the birthing process, it is an unfortunate reality that doctors and nurses may sometimes make mistakes that can leave newborns with permanent, life-altering injuries or other medical conditions.
If your child is displaying symptoms that are consistent with a specific type of birth injury or illness, it may be in your best interests to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. You may be able to recover financial compensation to cover your child’s past and future medical expenses, lost earning potential, and other hardships resulting from the child’s injuries.
Common Birth Injuries in Newborns
Newborn children are extremely vulnerable and prone to injury because their musculoskeletal system is undeveloped and fragile. Mistakes made by a medical professional either before, during, or after the birthing process can leave an infant child with long-term or even permanent injuries or illnesses.
The term “birth injury” can refer to either a temporary or permanent injury; while infants may recover from some types of birth injuries quicker than others, there are certain types of injuries that children often cannot recover from.
Below is a list of some of the more common birth injuries we see in newborns today, as well as their accompanying symptoms:
- Broken bones
Failure to carefully handle a newborn child can easily result in fractured or broken bones, and the long-term effects of broken bones can be very serious for children as they grow.
- Brain injuries
Head trauma and oxygen deprivation are two of the common causes of brain damage in newborns, but there are a number of medical mistakes that can affect an infant’s brain.
Use of forceps or other tools can cause trauma to the infant’s skull, which often results in a hematoma – swelling of clotted blood near the bone and in different types of soft tissue.
- Cerebral palsy
This condition is caused by significant brain trauma or malformation that occurs during the early stages of brain development. Medical professionals who mistakenly place pressure or force on an infant’s head or neck may result in the baby developing cerebral palsy.
- Erb’s palsy
Difficulties in the birthing process can cause significant physical trauma or other damage to the nerves in the brachial plexus – the upper arm, shoulder, and neck area. Erb’s palsy is frequently caused by shoulder dystocia, which is when the shoulder has to be manipulated in order for the baby to pass through the birth canal.
- Facial paralysis
Damage to the facial nerve of an infant can cause partial or full paralysis to parts of the baby’s face. In extreme cases, an infant may lose control of many facial muscles.
- Forceps injuries
Failure to safely and carefully use tools like forceps can lead to physical trauma and other harm to a newborn. Serious injuries might include a fractured skull or major lacerations to the body.
- Hypoxic or Ischemic Encephalopathy
Adequate oxygen supply is one of the most important things to monitor during the birthing process. Failure to ensure a steady flow of oxygen can cause brain damage and other injuries.
- Pitocin injuries
Pitocin is a drug often used to induce labor, but can cause serious injury and other types of complications with a mother or baby’s health if vital signs are not properly monitored.
Birth Injuries Caused by Negligence
Doctors and other medical providers have a duty to provide expecting parents with safe and effective care that meets a fair and reasonable standard. Violation of this duty can result in liability on the part of the medical provider and their insurance company. Failure to diagnose and/or prevent certain complications and difficulties can result in newborns suffering from a devastating injury or illness.
In the event that a newborn is injured during the birthing process, it is important to consider a number of questions about what happened. Was there any delay in the decision to order a cesarean section (C-Section)? Did the medical provider(s) fail to respond to obvious signs of fetal distress or maternal bleeding? Did the doctor and/or nursing staff properly use and dispose of tools during the birth?
If you believe your child was injured because of a medical provider or practitioner’s negligent behavior, it may be in your best interest to consult with a personal injury attorney who has experience in medical negligence cases. Davis Law Group will review the details of your case free of charge, and we will schedule you for a free consultation if we believe we can help. Call (206) 727-4000 or use the contact form on this page to get started.