Your child’s birth is one of the most momentous occasions in your life. No one parent wants to discard the chance to finally hold their child in their arms. Unfortunately, this unique event can get destroyed by the sheer negligence of the hospital staff while delivering your baby. They may stress the mother while in labor, use excessive force to pull out the baby or fracture your offspring’s delicate shoulders. There are about 28,000 birth injuries annually in the United States.
What is birth injury?
The physical injuries that mother or child experience during the childbirth are called birth injuries. Neonatal birth trauma is the term used for a birth injury that a newborn infant experiences , it may include from bruising to a broken bone injury.
In mothers, birth injuries mainly comes under two main categories that are –
The perineal area injury
- Perineal tears and episiotomy — Almost 3 in 4 women experience perineal trauma who decide to give birth vaginally.(It is actually a cut or tear near the area between vagina and anus)
- Nerve damage — Oncein a while with some patients it happens that the nerve in the perineal area gets damaged while giving birth to a child, which leads to pudendal neuralgia( a painful condition).
- Hemorrhoids (piles) — These are enlarged veins that may feel lumpy around the anus. Although they can hurt or itch, they are typically not dangerous.
The pelvic floor injuries
- Muscle damage — The uterus, bladder, and bowel are held in place by a set of muscles called the “pelvic floor” that are located inside the pelvis. Up to 50% of women who give birth vaginally experience lasting pelvic floor alterations as a result of straining or tears (avulsion).
- Pelvic organ prolapse — The pelvis can drop down towards the vagina if the pelvic muscles are damaged or weekend. Future it causes bladder and bowel related problems.
Eventually, mothers experience emotional or physical distress which is also known as birth trauma – before, during or after the birth of a child. Although there are various ways to reduce the risk of trauma, treatment and support are also available.
What causes birth injury(related to mother and child)?
There are several factors that may be the reason for birth injury. It could be the size and position of the baby. Let me list down some of the common reasons that are related to mother and child.
- Large babies. If the weight of the baby is above 4000 grams.
- Prematurity. The babies who are born before the time have fragile bones and are more open to injuries.
- Cephalopelvic disproportion. It may be the reason that the mother is not capable of giving birth to the child due to the inadequate size of the pelvis.
- Dystocia. Due to many factors, mothers have to suffer from difficult labor while giving birth to a child and that could be the reason for birth injuries too.
- Prolonged labor
- Abnormal birthing presentation. An example of this is a buttocks first (breech) delivery.
- Maternal obesity – Pregnancy obesity can also have a negative impact on a mother’s and a child’s health later in life. These hazards for women include high blood pressure and heart disease. Future heart disease and obesity in children are risks. Women and their children are more likely to get diabetes. Obstetricians and gynecologists are in a good position to stop and reverse this epidemic.
What Are the Common Causes of Birth Injuries Because of negligence in service?
The medical professionals (hospitals, doctors, nursing staff) are bound to follow the rules that are required to follow in case of the birth of infants. Standards of care are the set of measures that specify that patients get the proper medical care and patients are to be protected against the injuries .
It is their duty and responsibility to act and agree with the standard of care. Also, they are legally accountable, if anything happens during the birth and if they don’t follow the set of instructions(standard of care).
Below are some of the common causes of birth injuries:
Delayed C-Section Delivery
The risks of serious injury can be reduced by C section, during a difficult labor and delivery. By having the infant delivered by c-section, the environment that is depriving it of enough oxygen is removed. If it occurs too late, the infant can sustain damage.
Oxygen Deprivation or Hypoxia
Babies need a consistent and reliable flow of oxygen before, during, and after birth; otherwise, serious damage may result.
Serious injuries like cerebral palsy (CP) or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) might develop when the newborn doesn’t get enough oxygen.
Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
Meconium aspiration syndrome develops when a newborn breathes (aspiration) a mixture of amniotic fluid and first feces (meconium) before or during birth.
During labor and delivery, a baby may unintentionally gasp while under stress. The newborn’s lungs are stuffed with meconium and amniotic fluid as it gasps.
The lung can be totally clogged or merely partially blocked at times. The infant’s lungs could consequently collapse. Lung infection, which results from lung inflammation, is another danger (pneumonitis).
Trauma and Excessive Force
Too much mechanical force during the delivery may cause trauma injuries. Medical providers find it difficult to deliver the baby if the baby is large in size or is in an abnormal position. Usually, medical providers use forceps, vacuum extractor or to force the baby through the birth canal. These types of injuries can be prevented by ordering and performing a C- section delivery.
The sooner you act the more options you find for the treatment of your newborn infants. It’s proven that the quality of life of many children improved by early intervention.
What Should I Do Next?
It is very crucial to understand whether the incident was preventable , after a birth injury. Every action has its own consequences. Most often it happens that when a medical professional deviates from their work they usually put their patient at the stage of risks, although the distractions and deviation factor can be anything, it could be like mental anxiety, unexperienced , personal or professional .
However, if a medical professional follows the standard of care and acts accordingly, then he or she may prevent some birth injuries.
If you are curious about the birth injury cause then it can be done by investigation, whether the professional did act in a timely manner and followed the standard of care or not.
Some of the most common birth injuries that may happen due to the negligence of professionals.
- Brain Injuries (e.g. HIE and asphyxia)
- Muscle and movement disorders (e.g. Cerebral Palsy)
- Brachial Plexus Injuries (e.g. Erb’s Palsy, where the child’s arm is weak or paralyzed)
- Nerve damage (e.g. Klumpke’s Palsy, where the hand takes on a claw-like shape)
- Infections (e.g. anemia, folic acid deficiency, or spina bifida)
- Bleeding from the forceps, the scalp, or the skull
- Meconium Aspiration
- Cranial Nerve Trauma
- Spinal Cord Damage
- Facial Paralysis
It is very important that you don’t just see and suffer from what just happened with you and your child, beginning an investigation of the cause before it’s too late will make it easier for you to find out the reason behind the incident. Delaying it can only make facts and evidence fade away and officials may not take much interest in following the case.
But the legal system is here to help. You don’t have to fight alone in getting your child justice. Under no circumstance should you have to pay for the hospital’s apparent misconduct while delivering a baby? So if you’re ready to make your move towards legal entities. Here’s what you need to know:
- Initiating the process
Filing a birth injury claim follows a thorough process. The end goal of any lawyer is to prove the hospital failed to uphold its oath to care for its patients, which resulted in this incident. Your child’s injuries alone cannot stand in court. You need evidence showing the doctor in charge, medical transcripts which declared the baby healthy before birth, and discharge papers which show the injuries sustained at birth.
Additionally, every legal case has a specific statute of limitations which differs at a state level. This is the maximum time you can file a claim, and beyond the stated deadline, your case becomes invalid. All this information is best provided to you by a lawyer, so by visiting the birth injury justice center, you’ll meet a reputable attorney who can help you manage the details of your case. These professionals will guide you on the documents you need to submit, including affidavits that legitimize your claim.
Once your affairs are in order, the attorney will type up your case and submit it. Your documents tell you to stand in court with a robust case. While you’re filing a claim, ask your lawyer for all relevant details, including the cost of suing, the success of the case, and even references to trained doctors to look after your child.
- Go to trial
Both parties need to state the case to proceed to a legal trial. Once you do your pars to file a claim, you need to wait for the defendant to get back to you. Typically, a court grants the other party about thirty days to submit their answer. This can be accepting your claim or denying it. If they file for denial, you can take them to court immediately and initiate the trial. If they accept the claim and wish to defend their institute to prevent the lawsuit from damaging their reputation, the court will give both parties a settlement date.
During this discovery period, you will be heavily involved in building a case with your attorney. You may also need to find a medical professional with court experience who can validate your medical charts. Evidence would include the timeline of the child’s birthdate, the mother’s health, photographs of injuries if the same hospital incurred similar lawsuits, and eyewitnesses. The defense will be doing the same.
- Receive compensation
When the defendant accepts the charges, it bypasses the need to go to trial. Legally this leads to a settlement process. The defendant has to pay for the distress they caused you, including compensating for the emotional and financial loss you faced because of your child’s injury.
The hospital has to listen to your side of the argument and pay you for the physical therapy your child may need, the counseling you have to go through, the medication costs, and if your child may need to go through special education. However, don’t expect the defendants to give in easily.
A common tactic employed by the guilty is to reduce the money they have to pay or subside a claim that is a non-serious one. But rest assured, if you have a good lawyer, the offending party can’t shake you from asking for your right.
- Timeline of the proceedings
Trials are long and can be tedious to deal with, but if the defendant refutes the claim, you have no choice but to appear in court. A birth injury lawsuit can last for two months or a year. If the case is complex with multiple parties involved, you should expect a lengthy trial. The proceedings occur in front of a judge and jury. Your lawyer will prove to them that your child was injured during birth by the staff and present all the relevant evidence that backs this claim.
The trial only culminates when both sides have made closing statements and are ready for the verdict. If the jury finds your proof enough to prove malpractice, you win the trial and will receive a carefully calculated compensation ordained by the judge. This may be higher than the money you best from a settlement case. While the defendant has a right to appeal and ask for another trial, the court gets to decide that.
Can birth injury be prevented?
There are things that you can do to reduce the risk of birth injury. However, it is not possible to prevent birth injury completely.
- Make sure you include pregnancy safe exercise in your daily life during pregnancy.
- There are exercises that are beneficial to strengthen the pelvic muscles, look for that and follow the same.
- Constipation and straining on the toilet is not good for a pregnant lady as it can weaken your pelvic muscles.
- Cesarean birth can prevent birth injuries, but know that it is also a major surgery that includes health risks on its own.
How is birth injury treated?
Minor birth injuries, such as a perineal tear or graze, can sometimes heal on their own. Injuries that require immediate attention include a deeper tear that requires sutures. You might also require pain medication.
Treatment options may include physiotherapy and exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles if you have a more severe birth injury, such as a substantial tear or damage to those muscles. Some women may require vaginal pessaries or surgery to correct a prolapse.
Sometimes it takes a long time to identify and treat pelvic floor injury or prolapse symptoms. If you’ve already experienced a birth injury, there’s a chance it’ll happen again with your subsequent child.
Your doctor will discuss with you whether you should think about having a planned cesarean section the following time. You should consult a doctor if you have any persistent symptoms, such as pelvic pain or issues with your bladder or bowels.
Birth injuries are a terrible ordeal. There is nothing more painful than witnessing your child’s fragile body suffer because of negligence as a parent. A hospital’s staff’s responsibility is to protect and look after you well, including safely delivering your baby. Failure to accomplish this task deserves a walk down the legal aisle. A well-established attorney will help you get your due claim.
These professionals will inform you about the filing process and fight for you in court or settle on a price based on the defendant’s response. While the process may sound daunting, it is only suitable since it will help you get the money you need to look after your child’s new condition. Whenever you’re in a difficult situation, let justice empower you.