What injuries are related to negligence by a doctor or other health care provider during the birthing and newborn time?

Some leaders of the medical community complain that modern parents expect to have a “perfect” childbirth process and that if they do not, they will file frivolous lawsuits against the obstetrician, midwife, nurse or other persons involved in providing the care. In our experience as attorneys who represent families and parents, this is completely untrue. Parents seek out lawyers and investigate the legal process only when the child has suffered a devastating injury that has ruined or severely hampered a child’s normal life.

There are three main types of injuries that occur at the time of birth and that can relate to negligence by a health care provider.

  • Brain injury from lack of oxygen. The typical brain injury at birth is caused by asphyxia. The technical term is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. It typically results from inadequate oxygen to the baby’s brain during the birthing process.
  • Brain injury from direct trauma to the head. Another type of brain injury at birth is caused by trauma to the head that can result in bleeding inside the brain or direct injury to brain tissue.
  • Nerve injury to an arm or hand. The typical nerve injury is called Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus palsy.

It can take months or even years to determine how severe and permanent these injuries are. Children who suffer brain injury at birth often go on to develop a seizure disorder and/or cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is not typically diagnosed until a child has reached his or her first birthday, but the signs of CP are usually obvious long before that. Other times, children can have brain injuries that are very subtle until the brain is asked to do more complex tasks, as when they reach kindergarten or first grade.

Nerve injury is usually obvious shortly after birth. However, many nerve injuries can heal with time.

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Legal Consultation

If a family member has suffered a serious, permanent injury related to childbirth, you may want to talk to a lawyer. We provide free consultations to help determine if you have a valid medical negligence or malpractice case that should be pursued. If you have already consulted with another lawyer or are in the process of doing so, we can offer information about how to evaluate whether you have obtained the right lawyer for your case.

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