When a baby is injured at birth it is a traumatic experience for the entire family that can have lifelong consequences for the child and everyone that cares for him or her. The emotional and financial toll that such injuries take can easily become overwhelming, leaving everyone involved feeling as if they have nowhere to turn.
If your child was injured at birth, or you suspect that he or she was injured during birth, you don’t have to handle everything on your own. An experienced and knowledgeable birth injury lawyer in Massachusetts can help you and your family. If your baby suffered a birth injury because of mistakes made by doctors, nurses, or anyone else involved with the birth process, you may be entitled to significant compensation to help you treat and care for your child.
Many Birth Injuries Are Caused By Medical Malpractice
Many babies are injured at birth due to mistakes made by doctors, nurses, midwives, hospital staff, emergency staff, or others involved in the birth process. Even though these injuries may not be intentional, that doesn’t mean that nobody should be held responsible when they occur.
Some common causes of birth injuries include:
- Failure to recognize maternal or fetal distress
- Improper use of tools such as forceps or vacuum
- Failure to treat maternal infections
- Errors with medication
- Waiting too long to perform an emergency C-section
- Premature delivery complications
There is also a higher risk of a birth injury occurring if the baby is premature, very large (more than 8lbs 13oz), or if labor is difficult or very long.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Birth Injuries in MA?
There are many different types of birth injuries. Most fall into the categories of brain injuries, muscle injuries, or injuries caused by infections. As Boston birth injury lawyers, some of the most common injuries that we see include:
Erb’s Palsy—sometimes referred to as brachial plexus palsy or brachial palsy—occurs when the group of nerves that supply the arms and hands (the brachial plexus) is damaged or torn during delivery. It normally happens when there is a problem delivering the baby’s shoulder (shoulder dystocia). The child can lose the ability to flex, move, or rotate the arm and hand. The condition can be temporary or permanent depending on the severity of the damage.
This is when there is bleeding in the area between the skull bone and its fibrous covering. It can appear up to several hours after birth as a large bump on the baby’s head. The body usually reabsorbs the blood over time, but some babies may develop jaundice as the red blood cells break down.
Bell’s Palsy, which is a form of facial paralysis, occurs when facial nerves are injured because of pressure on the face during labor and/or delivery. It can be caused by the use of forceps during delivery.
Bell’s Palsy can usually be seen when the baby cries. The side of the face with the injured nerves will not move and the baby won’t be able to close the eye on that side. The condition could improve on its own over the course of a few weeks or require surgery depending on the extent of the damage.
Clavicle (collarbone) fractures are the most common type of fractures that occur during birth. They generally happen when there is a problem delivering the baby’s shoulder. A baby with a broken or fractured clavicle will rarely move the arm on the side of the fracture.
Oxygen deprivation falls into two categories, hypoxia and anoxia. Hypoxia is when the baby’s oxygen supply is partially cut off and anoxia is when it is completely cut off. The three most common causes of oxygen deprivation are placental separation (the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus), the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the baby’s neck, or problems that delay moving the baby through the birth canal.
Any type of oxygen deprivation can cause brain damage within just a few minutes. Depending on the amount of damage caused, consequences can include hearing impairment, blindness, learning disabilities, problems with motor control, or cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders that affects an individual’s ability to move and maintain balance. It’s the most common motor disability in childhood.
Speak With An Experienced Boston, MA Birth Injury Lawyer
Birth injury claims are not the same as other more common personal injury claims. A birth injury claim requires an experienced birth injury attorney that understands both the medical and legal aspects of such a case. That’s why you shouldn’t take legal advice from just any injury law firm.
If your child has suffered a birth injury, the birth injury attorneys at Parker Sheer has the knowledge, skill, and experience to help you and your family get the results and justice that you deserve. You don’t have to deal with birth injuries on your own. We will work to make sure that you get the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled.
Birth Injury Settlements in Massachusetts
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION:
The plaintiff, a 37 year-old woman, became pregnant with her second child. During her pregnancy, she presented to the defendant OB/GYN for periodic, routine evaluations. By the 37th week, the “fundal height” was not tracking consistent with the gestational age of the fetus. According to the defendant’s own deposition testimony, when a discrepancy exits between the fundal height and the gestational age that is two centimeters or greater in the absence of any other known explanation for the discrepancy, the requisite standard of care required that further evaluation and testing be performed. In this case, the discrepancy was greater than two centimeters after 37 weeks, but the defendant testified that despite the lack of any notes in the record explaining her investigation, the discrepancy must have been explained because she did not order any further testing. The mother’s medical chart, however, provided no description by the defendant as to her explanation for the discrepancy that would have warranted foregoing further testing.
Weeks later, when the mother was 39.5 weeks, she reported decreased fetal movement to her doctor. Her treating doctor was on vacation and another doctor in the practice group evaluated her. A Fetal Heart Rate Monitor was attached to the mother, which the fetus was non-reactive with poor variability. After being on the monitor for more than 50 minutes, the covering doctor advised the mother to drive herself to a nearby Boston emergency department for evaluation.
Upon the mother’s arrival to the emergency department, she was sent to Labor and Delivery where she underwent further fetal heart rate monitoring, which confirmed the hostile uterine environment for the fetus and an emergency cesarean delivery was performed.
The fetus was delivered in serious condition and was not breathing. Pediatricians took over the care of the newborn and the baby began shallow breathing. He was transferred to the Transitional Care Unit within the hospital, but when his respiratory status did not improve, he was transferred to the NICU and intubated. Blood work from the umbilical cord confirmed metabolic acidosis, a potential life threatening condition wherein high levels of acid are found in the blood, often caused by decreased oxygen over an extended period of time.
The baby was ultimately diagnosed with dystonic cerebral palsy and he is unable to speak, walk, care for him self in any way, or eat. He is and will remain totally dependent on his parents for his basic needs. In addition to claims brought on the minor’s behalf, claims for loss of consortium were also alleged on behalf of the parents.
At trial, the plaintiff’s experts were prepared to testify that the treating OB/GYN deviated from the standard of care when she failed to conduct any further testing when there was a 2-3 cm. discrepancy between the fundal height and gestational age of the fetus. Plaintiffs’ experts were prepared to testify that had she performed further testing, placental dysfunction would have been revealed and early delivery would have been ordered which would likely have spared the baby his life altering conditions. The plaintiff’s experts were also prepared to testify that the covering doctor created an unnecessary delay in referring the mother for further testing and prompt delivery. The plaintiffs’ experts were also prepared to testify that the pediatricians following delivery, contributed to the baby’s brain damage by failing to ensure adequate oxygenation post-delivery by prompt transfer to the NICU and intubation.
The defendants’ experts were prepared to testify that the defendant doctor adhered to the standard of care because further testing was not necessary because the treating OB/GYN satisfied herself that the discrepancy was explained by the position of the baby. The defendants’ experts were also prepared to testify that the covering doctor did not deviate from the standard of care, but rather acted appropriately given the facts she was presented with during her visit with the mother. Finally, the defendants’ experts were prepared to testify that the pediatrician was heroic in saving the baby’s life following delivery, and that her actions were appropriate given the baby’s response to treatment. Also, the defendants’ experts would have argued that the effects of the lack of oxygen to the fetus were established before the baby was born and nothing that the pediatricians did or failed to do caused or contributed to his permanent brain damage.
The case was settled after one full day of mediation and one month prior to trial.
Find Out If You Have A Medical Malpractice Case
If you have suffered from medical malpractice, contact us for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours, or call (617) 886-0500 . If you need a lawyer outside of Massachusetts, contact us for a referral.
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