The birth of a child is supposed to be the happiest day of the new parents’ lives. Too often though, this special occasion is marred by a medical error which causes a previously healthy baby to suffer a birth injury.
On average, about six out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States will be injured during delivery. Of course, not all birth injuries can be attributed to medical negligence. However, many are caused when a doctor or nurse makes a crucial mistake during delivery.
Some birth injuries can be as benign as scrapes and bruises that will ultimately heal on their own. Others are much more severe. Some of the more common severe birth injuries include:
- Facial paralysis: This is usually caused by force applied to the baby’s head through the use of forceps. It can sometimes be cured with surgery to repair the damaged nerves.
- Broken bones: A newborn baby’s bones are much more fragile than an adult’s, or even those of an older child. Bones can break if the child is mishandled during delivery.
- Erb’s palsy: Also known as a brachial plexus injury, Erb’s palsy is caused when a baby suffers injury to the nerves that control arm and hand movement. It frequently occurs when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck during delivery.
- Cerebral palsy: Perhaps the most damaging of all of these birth injuries, cerebral palsy occurs when a baby is deprived of oxygen during birth. The oxygen deprivation causes brain damage that can lead to both physical and cognitive disabilities.
Parents who think their child may have been the victim of medical negligence would be wise to act quickly. Often, a team of attorneys and experts will need to review the facts of the case to determine whether the birth injury was the result of malpractice or just an unfortunate accident. These reviews are the most effective when the evidence is fresh.
Source: ABC Action News, “How Medical Malpractice Leads to Birth Injuries,” Ed Greenberger, Jan. 27, 2012