At the time of delivery, when you depend on your healthcare facility to provide expert medical care, unpredictable mistakes can cause harm to you and your child. When you experience a birth injury such as brachial palsy or another serious physical injury, it is time to speak with Pittsburgh birth injury attorneys. Some birth injuries are considered medical malpractice because the birthing process should be safe and performed by competent health care providers.
When this is not the case, it is possible for the mother to get financial compensation for her personal injury or that of her child. If you experienced medical negligence, you should speak with a birth injury lawyer who has enough experience to understand when birth defects are caused by medical malpractice. Contact Pittsburgh birth injury attorneys who know how to properly manage medical malpractice claims. Call Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky today for a free consultation with a reliable western Pennsylvania birth injury attorney.
What are Birth Injuries?
Birth injuries occur when a medical professional causes physical injuries when the baby is being born. The injured child could experience physical trauma and cognitive disabilities because of delivery complications not caused by the mother’s actions. In newborn babies, this is called neonatal birth trauma, and the baby’s injuries can result in broken bones, brain injury, and other problems.
Mothers can also experience a birth injury, which typically is caused by perineal and pelvic floor injuries. For example, in a perineal injury, a mother can experience perineal tears or an episiotomy. Other birth injuries include hemorrhoids and nerve damage. When a mother has pelvic floor damage, this means that the muscles of the pelvic floor may tear due to over-stretching. The mother might also experience pelvic organ prolapse if the pelvic muscles are too damaged, resulting in bowel issues.
In most medical malpractice cases, the health care provider failed to provide quality treatment and acted neglectfully in some way. Suppose the mother or child suffered birth injuries. In that case, the mother can undergo the legal process with the help of a Pennsylvania law firm that can help them obtain financial recovery for the personal injury.
Most Common Birth Injuries
There are many different types of birth injuries caused by neglectful medical professionals. You may recognize one or more of these types of damages in your birth injury case, but you can also speak with your attorney if you or your child experienced a unique injury not listed here.
Forcep Or Ventouse Marks
During assisted birth, also known as instrumental delivery, a baby can be delivered with the help of forceps or a ventouse. Forceps are smooth metal instruments that look very similar to tongs or large spoons. They are positioned around the head of the baby to fit the baby’s head, and the obstetrician delicately pulls the baby out while the mother is pushing during her contractions. The ventouse is a vacuum that is attached to the baby’s head using suction. It is made of a plastic or metal cup attached to a suction device and designed to fit snugly around the baby’s head.
Forceps are far less likely to cause damage to a baby’s head, but they can also leave marks or cuts on the baby’s head. The marks left behind after birth are normal and will usually disappear in a day or two. However, if those marks are severe or the baby was injured in a way that caused a birth defect, then this may be a birth injury case. Those birthing tools can cause a higher risk of blood clots, anal and urinary incontinence, and vaginal tears. They can also create bruises and small cuts.
Also known as facial nerve palsy, birth injury victims can also experience facial paralysis because of high pressure on the baby’s face during childbirth. The facial nerve is the seventh cranial nerve, and it can be damaged right before or at the time of delivery. In some birth injury claims, this can be because of epidural anesthesia, the use of medicine to force stronger contractions, a large-sized baby, or prolonged labor.
This type of trauma can happen when a doctor mishandles the baby and holds the baby’s head obliquely while it is being delivered. Signs of facial paralysis can be difficulty feeding, loss of facial control, difficulty blinking, the inability to cry or coo, a drooping mouth, poor tear production, and uncontrollable drooling. Medical experts can help identify and diagnose this issue before you seek a medical malpractice claim.
This serious birth injury occurs when blood accumulates under the newborn baby’s scalp. This typically occurs in prolonged, difficult vaginal, and assisted deliveries. This is because the use of forceps and vacuums vastly increases the risk of cephalohematoma. It can also be caused by multiple babies, such as twins, triplets, quadruplets, and more. Larger than normal babies and the use of epidural pain relief can also cause this birth injury.
A cephalohematoma can put pressure on the baby’s scalp and rupture blood vessels under the skin. A large bulge may appear and grow for a few days, or it may harden and shrink, creating a crater-like shape. Some complications of cephalohematoma include causing hardened bone deposits to pile up around the injury, infections, anemia, jaundice, and skull fractures.
In some birth injury cases, the baby may experience a fracture during labor where the collarbone or clavicle is cracked, causing fetal distress. This can happen during a breech delivery, difficult or prolonged labor, or birth trauma. The baby may hardly be able to move their arm on the side where the clavicle or collarbone is broken. New bone can form, creating a lump on the clavicle in around ten days. The baby can quickly heal but may also need a splint or bandages to help them recover from the injury.
This form of birth injury results in edema and swelling at the top of the baby’s scalp. The swelling often feels spongy and appears after the birth of the child. This type of injury is often caused by the pressure of the vagina wall or uterus squeezing the baby’s head during head-first delivery. If the amniotic sac membranes rupture early on during the mother’s labor, this can also cause caput succedaneum. When the membranes rupture too early, the mother’s pelvic bones can put pressure on the baby’s head, leaving little cushion and increasing the chances of swelling around the baby’s scalp.
These birth defects occur when tiny blood vessels break inside the eyes of the baby right beneath the conjunctiva, which is the clear surface of the eye. Because the conjunctiva can’t absorb blood fast enough, the blood gets stuck, creating red spots and bloodshot eyes. Broken blood vessels in the eye are caused by traumatic and difficult deliveries that require forceful pressure. Sometimes forceps and vacuums can be the cause of a subconjunctival hemorrhage. These injuries are normally harmless but can be dangerous when there are signs of an eye infection. For example, if there is discharge, pus, swelling, and fever, then the baby may be struggling with an eye infection. If the child has difficulty seeing or is suffering from eye pain, these are also signs of a severe birth injury.
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
When the baby doesn’t receive enough blood or oxygen to the brain for a significant amount of time, then the baby may experience hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. This can happen during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and even during the post-natal period. However, pertaining to birth injury lawsuits, when this occurs during labor or delivery because of a healthcare professional’s mistakes, it can often result in developmental issues. For example, cerebral palsy, cognitive impairment, and epilepsy can be caused by hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
Some reasons this can occur during delivery include the rupture of the uterus or placenta, umbilical cord problems, excess bleeding, low blood pressure in the mother, abnormal fetal positions, and prolonged labor. After delivery, low blood pressure in the baby or trauma to the newborn’s head can also be the cause of this birth injury.
In some birth injury cases, the baby’s brain can experience complications where the white brain tissue near the ventricles of the brain begins to soften and deteriorate. This is due to brain trauma or the lack of blood flow and can create motor disabilities for the newborn. The baby may experience vision problems, exhibit spastic movements, cognitive issues, and even learning impairments related to cerebral palsy. This disorder mostly occurs in the third trimester but can happen in premature births as well. Neonatal infections, low birth weight, and other complications can be the cause of this birth injury. When medical experts fail to diagnose or inform the mother about these birth defects, this can be a form of neglect.
This serious type of brain injury occurs when the tissue of the brain bleeds due to an intracranial hemorrhage. In the case of a birth injury lawsuit, this would have to be related to neglect during a surgically assisted delivery. Otherwise, this can occur during normal childbirth due to the pressure that is placed on a newborn’s head during labor which can lead to head trauma. It can also be medical malpractice if improper delivery techniques are applied, like when there is excessive twisting or force placed on the baby. A Pittsburgh birth injury attorney can help you decide whether birth injuries like these can be considered medical malpractice.
What Risk Factors Can Increase Birth Injuries?
Not all birth injuries are the same, and in some birth injury cases, there are risk factors that can worsen the chances of a complicated birth occurring. These include the following circumstances:
- An unusually Shaped Pelvis
- Assisted Delivery With Ventouse or Forceps
- The Baby’s Size
- Quick Or Extended Labors
- Baby Positioning During Birth
Labor complications can also include an abnormal heart rate in the baby, excessive bleeding, uterine overdistention, the water breaking early, issues with the umbilical cord, perineal tears, and non-progressing labor. Birth injury cases are all unique, which is why you should speak to an experienced birth injury lawyer before pursuing a medical malpractice claim.
What Should I Do If I Need To File A Birth Injury Lawsuit?
In most birth injury cases, you will want to settle with the help of Pittsburgh birth injury lawyers rather than going to court. You should get direct guidance from a dedicated law firm in Pittsburgh, PA to file your medical malpractice claim by having our lawyers review your case. We can let you know if you experienced medical malpractice and how much financial compensation you may be owed. Call Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky today to receive adequate care and advice from our reliable medical malpractice attorneys.