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Many medical malpractice lawyers do not take on birth injury cases because of the complexities. At the Kopec Law Firm, lawyer Mark Kopec has been helping families with birth injury cases for nearly 20 years.
Birth injury claims are among the most complex of medical malpractice cases. They often require more independent expert doctors to prove than other cases and involve detailed analysis of technical medical records.
Cerebral palsy is one of the most devastating medical malpractice injuries. It can damage the brain and affect the child’s ability to control muscles. In severe instances, the child may never walk and cannot functionally use the arms. The child also may not be able to speak. The child may need assistance with every activity of daily living.
Cerebral palsy can result from birth injury malpractice when the medical staff mismanages the prenatal and birth process. Two categories of mismanagement are failing to deliver urgently when the baby is in distress and failure to prolong the pregnancy when the baby is premature.
Baby in Distress Requires Urgent Delivery
Mismanagement of Baby’s Heart Rate
The medical staff must confirm that the baby’s heart rate remains strong throughout the labor and delivery. A strong heart rate ensures that blood from the umbilical cord is circulated with oxygen throughout the baby’s body, especially to essential organs like the brain.
A monitor can reveal problems with the baby’s heart rate. Decelerations are when the heart rate decreases from the baseline heartbeat. These often occur after contractions. If the baby is strong, the heart rate will usually return to normal after a contraction. However, especially in prolonged labor, a baby can tire of the contractions and run out of energy. In this instance, the heart rate may not return to normal. The lower heart rate can result in prolonged reduced oxygen to the brain and permanent injury.
Umbilical Cord Compression
Birth injury malpractice can also occur with umbilical cord compression. If the umbilical cord gets compressed during labor, blood and oxygen flow to the baby can be constricted. Imagine stepping on a garden hose so the water cannot pass through. A similar thing can happen if the baby’s body or the mom’s anatomy presses down on the cord.
If this compression is momentary, there may be no lasting harm. However, if it is continuous, the baby can be deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period, resulting in brain damage or even death.
Premature Baby Needs Labor Extended
When labor starts well before the due date, the medical staff may mismanage the prenatal process. A baby born prematurely is not fully developed and is at risk for severe health conditions, including cerebral palsy. Fortunately, there are steps the medical staff can take to prolong the pregnancy until the due date.
An incompetent cervix can lead to birth injury malpractice. An incompetent cervix occurs when weakness in the tissue causes the cervix to open too soon in the pregnancy, which can result in a premature birth. This situation may happen at some point during the pregnancy. In addition, if there is a history of incompetent cervix in prior pregnancies, the medical staff should address this at the beginning of the subsequent pregnancy.
The medical staff can take steps to strengthen the cervix. A cerclage places stitches in the cervix to help it maintain the proper position during the pregnancy. Medicine can also assist. Moreover, ultrasounds can monitor the cervix to ensure the appropriate condition.
The medical staff must try to stop pre-term labor to avoid a premature birth. Tocolytic medicine can avert a premature birth. Once stopped, reduced activity and bed rest may be required to prevent recurrence.
In addition, infection can cause pre-term labor. Treatment with antibiotics can terminate it and heal the condition.
In the above instances, mismanagement can result in birth injury malpractice, and the baby can be severely injured, needing to go to the NICU – the neonatal intensive care unit.
When the birth process causes reduced oxygen to the baby, the diagnosis is often HIE – hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. The doctors may not diagnose cerebral palsy until the baby develops in the first or second year of life.
There are other ways the medical staff can mismanage labor and delivery, injuring the baby. Please check the Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog on this website for regular updates. You can read more about Erb’s Palsy.
If your baby had a prolonged stay in the NICU after birth, call 800-604-0704 now to speak directly with lawyer Mark Kopec.
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