When a baby sustains an injury from complications during labor or delivery, he or she has sustained a birth injury, or birth trauma. Birth injuries range from mild to severe and are not uncommon. When medical malpractice causes a child’s birth injury, an experienced Orlando injury attorney can help parents understand their legal rights.
Injuries Related to Forceps Deliveries and Vacuum Extractions
Cephalohematoma, or bleeding between a bone and the tissue encapsulating it, is one birth injury commonly seen with forceps deliveries and vacuum extractions. The injury typically occurs on the baby’s head and may indicate a skull fracture if forceps were used, which could require surgical treatment. Usually the cephalohematoma heals within two weeks to three months, though if it is particularly large, the baby can become jaundiced as the red blood cells break down.
Forceps delivery and vacuum extractions also increase the risk of facial paralysis, which occurs when pressure to the baby’s face during delivery causes nerve damage. The nerves may simply be bruised, in which case they usually heal within a few weeks, though in more severe cases, the damaged nerves may require surgical repair.
When the misuse of forceps or a vacuum extractor results in birth trauma to an infant, parents may have cause for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Erb’s palsy is an injury to the brachial plexus, a group of nerves near the neck to which the arm’s nerves connect. These nerves control hand and arm movements. Erb’s palsy typically occurs when an infant’s neck is stretched to the side or pulled too hard during a difficult delivery. One or two out of every 1,000 babies in the U.S. suffer from Erb’s palsy, and while many recover fully, 3 to 25 percent experience permanent impairment. If an infant’s brachial plexus nerves are merely bruised, he or she usually recovers within three months. In more severe cases of Erb’s palsy, however, physical therapy or surgery may be necessary.
Parents can consult a qualified Orlando injury lawyer to learn about their rights under medical malpractice law when negligence has left their baby suffering from Erb’s palsy.
Sometimes birth complications result in oxygen deprivation to the baby, such as when the umbilical cord twists around the baby’s neck. The longer the oxygen deprivation lasts, the higher the risk that the baby will experience brain damage, which can result in cerebral palsy and other disorders or impairment. Brain injuries can lead to a lifetime of medical costs and care, making it important for parents to work with a dedicated Orlando injury attorney when seeking recovery for their child’s birth trauma.
Medical Errors and Birth Trauma
In addition to several delivery issues that can increase a baby’s risk of suffering a birth injury, like the baby being above average in size, the size and shape of the mother’s pelvis being inadequate for vaginal delivery, prolonged labor, or a breech birth, the following medical errors also increase the risk of birth trauma:
- Failure to anticipate complications
- Failure to respond appropriately to bleeding
- Improperly responding to umbilical cord issues
- Failing to respond to fetal distress
- Ordering a cesarean section too late
- Misusing forceps or a vacuum extractor
- Improperly administering hormones to speed up or induce labor
Medical errors like the ones above may constitute grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If your baby suffered a birth injury and you suspect medical malpractice may have been the cause, contact an experienced Orlando injury lawyer to discuss your case today.