Liability for Birth Injuries

Is my OB/GYN liable for my child’s birth injury?

Your child’s birth is a wonderful and life defining moment.  Every new mom enters the delivery room hoping for a complication free delivery, but sadly approximately seven out of every 1,000 births will involve some form of birth injury, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and leading birth injury researchers.  Some birth injuries are linked to biological or environmental factors, but others are the result of medical malpractice occurring either during the pregnancy or birth.  Doctors who negligently inflict a birth injury could be liable in a medical malpractice action.  

What is a Birth Injury?

A birth injury involves any sort of injury occurring during child birth.  Birth injuries can range in severity.  Some injuries are relatively minor, like bruising, while others involve permanent brain damage.  Birth injuries often occur when an infant is large, premature, or in an abnormal birthing position.

Medical malpractice is a leading cause of birth injuries.  Medical malpractice may occur when a physician, most commonly an OB/GYN, fails to take appropriate actions during the birth.  This may include not recognizing fetal distress, waiting too long to perform a caesarean section, or improper use of the forceps.  These mistakes made in the moment may lead to devastating injuries for the remainder of the child’s life.  

Some of the most common brain injuries include:

  1. Cerebral palsy:  Cerebral palsy is a disorder characterized by poor motor control, muscle spasms, delays in motor development, learning problems, and problems with hearing or vision.  This multi-organ disorder can occur as a result of brain damage, most often from deprivation of oxygen, during or shortly after the birth.
  2. Bone fractures:  Newborns can suffer from broken collar bones or clavicles during child birth, with larger babies most at risk.  A doctor that does not recognize a baby’s size may recommend a vaginal birth, only to have the child sustain a broken bone.  While most breaks heal quickly, complications can arise in one so small.  
  3. Facial paralysis:  If a baby’s face experiences undue pressure during labor or delivery, the infant may experience facial paralysis.  This can also occur when a doctor uses the forceps to deliver.  Facial paralysis may heal in weeks, while some cases require surgery.

No one wants to see their newborn suffer.  If your newborn has sustained a birth related injury, contact a medical malpractice attorney to determine if you may have a viable case for malpractice against the OB/GYN or other physician who delivered your child.

Posted in: Birth Injuries