New York Birth Injury Accident
It is estimated that 1-3% of births involve birth injuries. Many of these babies will have lifelong disabilities. Many others will not survive. There are many reasons that a baby can be born with an injury or illness. While in some cases the medical problem is genetic, in many other cases the problem was caused because a medical professional was negligent. Oftentimes the negligence occurs during the pregnancy when a doctor fails to diagnose and properly treat a dangerous condition. In other cases mistakes are made during labor and delivery. Far too often the results are devastating both for the baby and for the baby’s family. If your child has suffered a birth injury as a result of a medical misdiagnosis or some other type of medical malpractice, it is important that you immediately contact an experienced New York birth injury lawyer who will help you pursue compensation for your child’s injuries.Common types of birth injuries
Most birth injuries could have been avoided as they were caused by negligence on the part of an obstetrician, gynecologist, anesthesiologist, nurse or other heath care provider. A few of the more common birth injuries include:
- Brachial plexus injury affects the nerves related to the shoulder, arms, hands, and fingers. This injury typically occurs during delivery when the baby’s shoulders get stuck against the mother’s pubic bone. This is called shoulder dystocia and the result can be a brachial plexus injury. A brachial plexus injury can lead to Erb’s palsy.
- Anoxic brain damage occurs when the baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen. It can be caused by a failure to perform a timely c-section, placenta rupture, umbilical cord compression, or the negligent use of labor inducing drugs. Brain damage can mean that the baby will suffer from developmental disabilities.
- Erb’s palsy is a condition caused by brachial plexus injury. Babies with Erb’s palsy have weakness or paralysis in a shoulder or arm due to nerve damage to the brachial plexus nerves that occurred during delivery.
- Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects control over muscles resulting in curvature of the spine, speech problems, incontinence and mobility problems. It can be caused by infection during pregnancy, premature birth, bleeding in the brain, placental eruption, or traumatic labor.
Example. Joanne, 34 weeks pregnant, started to experience abdominal pain, back pain, and uterine tenderness. She called her doctor who told her to go to the hospital. She was immediately admitted and the hospital staff began fetal monitoring. The fetal monitoring was not conclusive, so the obstetrician performed an ultrasound examination. Based on the ultrasound, the obstetrician did not find that the baby was in distress. He ordered bedrest in the hospital. A few hours later Joanne suffered severe vaginal bleeding. The obstetrician ordered an immediate c-section. Joanne suffered a placental abruption. Her baby was born with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy that resulted from a delay in performing an emergency c-section. With the help of an experienced New York birth injury lawyer, Joanne filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and the obstetrician. It turned out that the ultrasound equipment was faulty. It had not been serviced in years, and was quite old. The damage award in the case included payments for future medical care, lost earnings, pain and suffering for the child, as well as emotional distress for Joanne.
Birth injuries are often caused by negligence on the part of a doctor or other health care provider.
- Administering incorrect drugs during labor. During labor and delivery, a variety of conditions could develop that would necessitate the use drugs. When the correct drug is administered in the right dose, at the right time, the result would be that the condition would improve, or a potential problem would be avoided. For example, there are drugs that can be used to stop preterm labor, while other drugs induce labor or speed up labor. There are also medications that can be administered to reduce pain during delivery. However, if the wrong drug is administered, the wrong dose is given, or the drug is administered at the wrong moment, the result to the mother, child, or both could be tragic. Common medication errors during labor and delivery include failing to administer the drug, administering the wrong drug, administering it at the wrong time, administering the drug to the wrong patient, administering the wrong dose—underdosage or overdosage, and wrong rate for intravenous administration. Some errors are the result of improper labeling, failing to monitor the patient, using verbal orders (instead of written orders), and confusion over drugs that look alike.
- Failing to properly monitor fetus. The purpose of fetal monitoring is to immediately notify the healthcare provide that the baby is in distress. Fetal monitoring involves checking the baby’s heart rate to ensure that there are no abnormalities. Fetal monitoring it commonly done during labor. It is up to the doctor to know when fetal monitoring is required, how to interpret the information, and when and how to respond to signs of distress. If the doctor fails to properly monitor, the baby can suffer serious permanent injuries. Fetal monitoring can alert doctors to placenta complications, anoxia and hypoxia, abnormal fetal positioning, umbilical cord prolapse, nuchal cord, umbilical knots, and other dangerous cord issues.
- Failing to administer appropriate tests during pregnancy. Given a mother’s medical history and other factors, there are tests that the doctor should perform throughout the course of the pregnancy. While some tests are designed to detect abnormalities and birth defects, other tests are designed to determine if there is a treatable condition or if there is a risk of a condition developing. For example, checking the mother’s blood pressure throughout the pregnancy will can help detect preeclampsia which can be dangerous for both the baby and the mother. Urine tests can show the existence of infections which can also harm both the baby and the mother. Blood tests can be used to detect infections as well as to determine the mother’s blood type, Rh factor, and anemia. This information will direct the course of treatment. Failure to administer appropriate test could result in the doctor failing to make a critical diagnosis, resulting in the mother or baby not receiving proper treatment.
- Failing to timely perform c-section when baby is distress. While vaginal delivery is typically the optimal choice, a c-section may be the better option in some circumstances. C-sections are often performed when complications arise during labor and delivery. If fetal monitoring indicates that the baby is in distress, it is incumbent upon the medical staff to determine if an emergency c-section is the appropriate course of action. Failure to perform a timely c-section can result in the baby suffering permanent injuries such as cerebral palsy, seizures, developmental delays, or another serious problems that might require lifelong treatment.
- Negligent use of extractor, vacuum or forceps during delivery. Forceps and a vacuum extractor are medical instruments that are sometimes used when during a vaginal delivery when the baby is not progressing through the birth canal. A vacuum extractor is a device that includes a cup with a handle and vacuum pump. The cup is attached to the baby’s head to help guide the baby through the birth canal. Forceps are an instrument that resembles tongs. They are placed on the baby’s head to guide the baby out of the birth canal. While forceps or a vacuum extractor can be essential to ensuring a safe delivery, if they are not used properly, the baby could suffer a serious birth injury such as a skull fracture or brain injury. It is incumbent upon the doctor to understand when using the tools are indicated or contraindicated. When indicated, the doctor also must use the tools with skill. If the doctor fails to do so and as a result the baby is harmed, the doctor could be liable for medical malpractice.
- Failure to diagnose umbilical cord problems. The job of the umbilical cord is to carry oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the baby. It also carries the blood supply to the baby and eliminates waste. It has been described as the lifeline between the baby and the mother. While in utero the baby cannot survive without the umbilical cord. There are a variety of problems that can occur with the umbilical cord, endangering the baby. Umbilical cord prolapsed occurs when the umbilical cord drops through a mother’s open cervix during labor and delivery causing the cord to wrap around the baby. A nuchal cord occurs when the umbilical cord becomes coiled around an infant’s neck. Umbilical cord knots occur when the baby moves through the umbilical cord, causing a knot that can constrict and tighten during delivery. Umbilical cord cysts occur when an abnormal growth appears on the umbilical cord. Problems with the umbilical cord can restrict the flow of oxygen to the baby causing the baby to fall into distress. Umbilical cord problems can generally be detected with fetal monitoring and ultrasounds. If the baby is in distress due to an umbilical cord problem, it is incumbent upon the doctors to take appropriate steps to treat the condition. A c-section is often required.
If you suspect that your child’s medical condition was caused because an obstetrician, pediatrician, neonatologist, anesthesiologist, nurse, or other medical professional was negligent, you may be entitled to compensation. As a New York birth injury lawyer will explain, New York law allows injured victims to seek damages by filing personal injury lawsuits against the doctors, nurses and other medical staff whose negligence led birth injuries. Compensable damages include:
- Medical expenses. In your demand for medical expenses, it is important to demand reimbursement for not only past medical expenses, but also future medical expenses. While some birth injuries are treatable and curable, there are many serious birth injuries that result in permanent damage the child. As a result the child will need lifelong medical treatment the may involve physical, occupational, or speech therapy, mobility aids, medication, and other types of treatment and equipment.
- Loss of income potential. Another type of compensation is loss of income potential. If the baby suffers a permanent injury such as severe brain damage that will impact his or her ability to work and earn a living, then the negligent party should pay for that loss of income potential. As a birth injury attorney in New York will explain, expert testimony would be required to provide information about your baby’s loss of income potential.
- Pain and suffering. Your baby’s pain and suffering is compensable. Medical mistakes that lead to a serious injury to the child, particularly where the damage is permanent, undoubtedly caused your child both physical and emotional pain.
- Wrongful death damages. Sadly, birth injuries can lead to the baby not surviving. If your baby passes away as a result of a birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation based on a wrongful death lawsuit.
Birth injuries can leave a family emotionally and financially devastated. Learning that the condition was preventable and caused by the errors of healthcare workers only adds to the emotional pain. If you suspect that your child’s medical problems are due to an error by a medical professional, you have the right to demand compensation through a medical malpractice claim. Contact a skilled birth injury attorney serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss the details of your case. Our staff has the knowledge, experience, and resources to skillfully handling claims from people injured due to the mistakes of a healthcare worker or facility. Contact us at 800.NY.NY.LAW (800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Nassau County, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.