Going to a hospital for a delivery is usually a highly emotional experience. While the soon-to-be mom and family members may have a thousand thoughts going through their heads, a childbirth injury is probably not one of them. It’s natural to trust the medical professionals around you to do the right thing for your baby’s health.
But when a doctor, nurse, or other hospital member acts negligently, your infant could suffer from major injuries that affect them for the rest of their life. In these situations, you need a Philadelphia birth injury lawyer from Shrager & Sachs, LLC. We will hold the hospital accountable for their actions and get you the justice you deserve.
According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), approximately 157,000 injuries to mothers and babies occurred during childbirth when they could have been prevented in 2006. Most of the injuries during natural births were caused by misusing medical instruments.
Birth injuries can cause a number of health-related issues that can leave the infant with damage to the brain. The baby may have cognitive issues or problems with mobility and physical function. The medical costs to provide the care your child could be high, along with the additional emotional stress.
How Do You Know If a Birth Injury Happened?
It’s not always immediately noticeable after child’s delivery that something went wrong. For some parents, they may not realize an injury occurred during birth until their child fails to meet developmental milestones in the months or years to come. If that’s the case, it’s important to consult both a lawyer and pediatrician to determine what went wrong and why.
When an injury occurs and it’s immediately noticeable, families may be told that there were issues during the birth. This language makes it seem like there was nothing the delivery doctors could do to prevent what happened. But if you try to ask questions and can’t get answers, the issues may have arisen due to negligence. This is why it’s sometimes necessary to pursue legal action to get the answer you and your child deserve.
For example, your doctor may suggest starting infant cooling therapy following delivery. This treatment is used on newborns who were deprived of oxygen during birth. While it can reduce the baby’s chance of developing a catastrophic injury, it may indicate that someone made a mistake in the delivery room.
Your Philadelphia birth injury lawyer will fight for your rights no matter what. We understand how emotionally difficult this process can be, but you can get peace of mind knowing we’re doing everything to win you a favorable settlement that will help you afford medical care for your child.
What Causes Birth Trauma?
One of your main questions after you learn about your child’s birth injury is how this happened in the first place. Here are some reasons that may be why the harm occurred:
- Inexperience. A member of the delivery team may not have the training or experience required to safely deliver your baby. If a medical professional didn’t have the training needed to know how to use medical tools or other ways that apply to safely delivering the child, their inexperience could cause them to mishandle something or misjudge a situation.
- Failing to provide proper prenatal care. To assess both the health of the mother and baby, doctors should recommend a variety of prenatal tests. In the event testing indicates the possibility of maternal conditions like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, or fetal issues like intrauterine growth restriction or umbilical cord problems, proper precautions can be taken.
- Fatigue. Those working in hospitals may be pulling multiple shifts or have a work schedule where they’re regularly not getting enough sleep. When a medical professional is fatigued, they’re not going to be as alert or focused as they would be if they were well-rested. Their fatigued state could lead to them making a mistake.
- Failing to detect signs of fetal distress. Through pregnancy, labor, and delivery, medical professionals should monitor the mother and baby for signs of fetal distress. Common signs include decreased fetal movement, abnormal fetal heart rate, abnormal amniotic fluid volume, cramping, and more. If those signs are ignored, it’s more likely the mother or baby will be harmed at some point.
- Substance Abuse. While medical professionals have stressful jobs, some of them turn to improper or illegal methods of coping with it. Some may turn to substance abuse or drinking. If a medical professional is impaired while they’re working, they could make a serious mistake that could affect your child’s life.
- Medication Errors. A negligent health care professional may not have checked or updated your medical chart. You could be allergic to certain medications or need to avoid medications for another reason. If someone’s error causes you to have that medication, you could suffer from a reaction that could harm you and the baby. In regard to labor and delivery, this often happens with Pitocin or Cytotec.
- Improperly caring for babies in the NICU. The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is for babies who are premature, have sustained injuries, or have other health issues. Because infants in the NICU are fragile, it’s important that the medical professionals caring for them do so properly.
Doctors that aren’t alert or responsible could cause the baby to:
- Go without oxygen.
- Get stuck during birth.
- Experience issues with the umbilical cord.
- Have an abnormal heart rate.
- Sustain a broken bone.
Injuries can happen at any time during pregnancy or during the labor delivery process. They can start when the mother begins having contractions. A doctor may fail to recognize that an emergency C-section is needed, which could lead to injuries in natural birth. Some doctors may even prescribe medicine to a pregnant woman that results in injuring the baby before birth.
While it’s important to know why the injury occurred, you’re also going to need to know the extent of the birth injury. Let’s take a look at the types of birth injuries that can happen when someone acts negligently.
Common Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can result in different ways. In some cases, they may involve the brain, which may result in infant brain damage. The trauma of a delivery injury prevents the brain from getting enough oxygen, and the damage could possibly cause permanent mental or physical disabilities.
Other types of injuries are physical, which can affect the infant’s muscles and bones. This can impede their motor functions and control of certain areas. The following list includes examples of brain and physical injuries:
- Cerebral Palsy. This is a neurological disorder that affects one’s ability to maintain balance and muscle control. A baby deprived of oxygen can suffer from CP.
- Erb’s Palsy. This injury is also known as Brachial Plexus Palsy, which affects the nerves that control arm muscles. Stretching of a newborn’s upper body can occur during birth and cause Erb’s Palsy.
- Klumpke’s Palsy. This is another injury that can occur when the brachial plexus is injured. Klumpke’s Palsy affects the child’s ability to move the lower part of their arm and hand. This injury can cause stretching, scarring, or tearing of the brachial plexus nerves.
- Perinatal Asphyxia. An oxygen-deprivation issue, perinatal asphyxia happens when an infant stops breathing.
- Hypoxia. Lack of oxygen during delivery is called hypoxia. Other birth complications can cause this, but it can also happen when the doctors aren’t paying enough attention to the infant.
- Cephalohematoma. Sometimes, the birth process requires tools like forceps to help deliver the baby. When these tools are used incorrectly, the infant can sustain injuries, like bleeding between the skull and the membrane underneath the skin.
- Shoulder Dystocia. A baby’s head and shoulders can get stuck in the mother’s pelvic bone, which can disrupt the birthing process and the infant can’t breathe.
- Fractures. When the baby is being delivered but the delivery team isn’t careful, the baby could suffer from fractures. Depending on the situation, a baby’s neck or spinal cord could be injured, as well as instances where the baby is trapped which could damage the shoulders and extremities like fingers.
- Tool-Related Injuries. During some deliveries, a doctor may use a birthing tool to help deliver the baby. If they use forceps or perform a vacuum extraction incorrectly, they could harm the baby.
Hospitals also need to be vigilant about infection. Those in charge of the mother’s and baby’s health should recognize signs of infection and treat it immediately before it can harm the baby. Hospitals are also supposed to be clean and sanitary to prevent the spread of germs and disease.
While some of these injuries may heal, some may change your baby’s life forever. When a birth injury has permanent consequences, your child may need immediate medical care and some form of continued care for the rest of their life. This could include treatment, medication, and medical equipment. Your child’s care could also include requiring special education and other accommodations so they can learn and grow.
The Lasting Effects of Birth Trauma
Based on the injuries discussed above, it’s clear the infants who experience trauma during labor and delivery may display physical, cognitive, or psychological disorders. Physical and cognitive injuries have the potential to result in temporary or permanent developmental delays. Parents may need to watch their child undergo medical procedure after medical procedure to give them the best chance at living a high-quality life.
Even if a child does not have to cope with physical or cognitive injuries, psychological effects are a possibility. Currently, researchers and scientists are looking into the potential effects of traumatic birth injuries on children as they grow older. Possibilities include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavior problems, hearing loss, and speech problems.
In addition to what parents have to watch their child go through, there’s also the matter of medical expenses. A family’s financial health can quickly be ruined as medical bills add up. Often times, there’s little in the way of assistance. That’s why it’s often in a family’s best interests to file a claim against the doctor or hospital that caused the injuries.
Birth Injuries Are Preventable
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes that many pregnancy-, labor- and delivery-related injuries, like Cerebral Palsy, are preventable. This is because when there is an underlying problem, there are often identifiable symptoms that can be treated before the risk of trauma causes harm.
Physicians and other medical providers are required to provide all patients with the same level of care—which is legally referred to as the standard of care. The standard of care is based on how other doctors in a similar specialty would react in a given situation. In the event a provider fails to follow through because of negligence, they should be held accountable for breaching their duty and injuring a patient.
Many birth injuries are preventable because they are caused by mistakes. Doctors should know how to safely use medical instruments and have a successful birth where the baby never goes without oxygen. They should also know when certain procedures are necessary for the baby’s health. When they fail to provide this care, that’s where our birth injury attorneys step in.
Investigating Labor and Delivery Injuries in Philadelphia
Determining who is at fault for trauma during labor and delivery is challenging. There are a number of people involved in prenatal care, labor, and the birth of a child. When your Philadelphia attorneys begin investigating your case, they’ll use your medical records to determine who you came into contact with. They’ll also look at the hospital or facility itself and examine any products or equipment that was used during the delivery.
In addition to reviewing records, your lawyer will ask you a number of questions to get an idea of the circumstances surrounding your child’s birth. Some of the questions could include the following:
- Was there fetal monitoring?
- Were you notified of any issues that suggested your baby needed to be delivered sooner?
- Was the baby born vaginally or via C-section?
- Were you give proper medications?
- Was the delivery timely?
- Were proper care measures taken once the baby was delivered?
The information you provide in addition to what your lawyer is able to collect will be the basis for your case. In addition to that, it’s likely they will call on medical experts to provide testimony that shows how the negligent party breached the standard of care.
Recovering Compensation for Medical Malpractice
After investigating the medical evidence and compiling a case that proves your family was wronged, we can calculate the claim that can help you afford to give your child the care they need. Let’s look into the compensation you can receive with a medical malpractice lawsuit.
When you’re deciding to file a lawsuit for your child, you may wonder how taking on a legal matter will help you. It may seem like a lot to add to your responsibilities in addition to providing your child with the care they need. That’s where a Philadelphia birth injury lawyer from Shrager & Sachs comes in. When we’re at your side, we’ll always fight for your best interests. We’ll do everything possible to recover full and fair compensation for your child’s injuries. This compensation can provide significant financial relief.
Compensation typically includes economic and noneconomic damages. Your economic damages will include your monetary losses.
After a birth injury, you and your baby may need medical care. Your baby could have a long recovery period or they may have an injury that will affect them for the rest of their life and require lifelong medical care. They may need special treatments to care for the injury. Your child may need physical or occupational therapy on a regular basis.
Additional costs could come from needing to change your home to accommodate your child. This could mean adapting the house to help them remain mobile. Other costs may include counseling or other ways to maintain psychological health. If any of these were part of the outcome of your child’s injury, we’ll do everything we can to make sure your compensation will help cover these costs so your child gets the care they need.
If the mother was injured, the recovery could cause missed workdays. These lost days of pay can cause significant financial stress, especially when medical expenses start adding up. If you’ve missed work because of the birth injury, we’ll fight for you to recover those lost wages.
There’s also another aspect of your compensation: noneconomic damages. These damages are the unseen consequences of the injury. While these may not have a monetary loss attached to them, they are still significant struggles that occur because someone acted negligently.
You may be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering. While you may have experienced pain and suffering knowing your child was injured, they may have also experienced painful symptoms from their injuries.
Emotional turmoil is another aspect of noneconomic damages. A birth injury could mean your child will need to spend a length of time recovering or they could be dealing with the consequences of their injury for a lifetime. Knowing your baby’s life was affected because of a negligent health care professional is devastating. Worrying about providing everything necessary to maintain a high quality of life for a child can put a lot of pressure on parents.
Loss of enjoyment of life is another possibility. If your child’s injury has caused a disability, they may not be able to participate in certain activities as they grow up.
Our Philadelphia birth injury attorneys have experience in determining fair compensation when it comes to noneconomic damages. After looking at the total damages and coming to what you’re owed, we can start fighting for you to receive maximum compensation so you can focus on your child.
Shrager & Sachs Has Experience and Success With Birth Injury Lawsuits
We’ve fought for families whose babies have been wrongfully hurt in the past. Some of our successful cases are for the following reasons:
- Oxygen Deprivation. A child was deprived of oxygen for more than 20 minutes, and the settlement amount reached was $4,000,000.
- Spinal Cord Injury. Shrager & Sachs won $2,290,000 for a client who brought a case against a doctor who tore a baby’s spinal cord nerves during delivery.
- Shoulder Injury. In a case where a doctor failed to prevent a shoulder injury in delivery, the outcome was a $1,000,000 settlement.
When you file a birth injury lawsuit, there are a few elements your case will need. We’ll show that there was a doctor/patient relationship. This could be established when a health professional is in charge of your baby’s delivery.
Then, we’ll work to show how they acted negligently during your care. Proving this can be complex and typically requires the help of an expert witness. We’ll find a professional who worked in a similar field with similar education as the negligent physician. An expert witness can give testimony on how the physician acted outside of the norm and exhibited negligence.
Once we show how they acted negligently, we’ll connect their negligence to the birth trauma and the resulting losses. Building a strong case takes time and expertise. A birth injury lawyer from our firm is ready to diligently investigate your case to find the evidence necessary to prove your child’s injuries were a result of a physician’s negligence.
Get Justice With Help From a Philadelphia Birth Injury Lawyer
Mistakes made during childbirth are inexcusable. When people are responsible for harming your child, you have every right to seek legal action. Shrager & Sachs can help you navigate the complexities of a birth injury claim. We’re not afraid to go up against hospitals and make them take responsibility for medical malpractice.
Your case may proceed to court. While this can seem intimidating, it may be the best chance of getting the compensation you need. With a Philadelphia birth injury attorney at your side, you can have peace of mind knowing we have experience in the courtroom and will help you prepare for your day in court. Taking this step may have other positive outcomes as well.
When hospitals are held accountable for negligence, they will most likely take steps to ensure they don’t repeat the same mistake. They may institute certain standards or procedures to make sure babies are kept safe in the delivery room. Your claim could potentially prevent other childbirth injuries. This won’t undo the pain that you and your child have suffered, but it may be a small comfort to know that you had a say in protecting other babies.
You deserve justice and to know that you’re taking steps to be able to give your child the treatment, care, and medication they need. Contact us today for a free consultation. We will go over your case so you can decide your best course of action.