How Are Birth Injuries And TBIs Caused By Medical Malpractice?

Although the causes of birth injuries can result from a number of factors, when doctors or hospitals make a mistake, it can often result in serious complications.  Because newborns are so frail, obstetricians must be ready to respond to any needs of the mother or child.  Once a woman enters labor, doctors must react quickly to any problems that present themselves.  If they do not, the child may sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBIs).  Doctors may cause a TBI if they are too forceful with the child, or if the child does not receive prompt medical attention should anything go wrong.

WHAT ARE SOME COMMON BIRTH INJURIES THAT ARE DUE TO MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?

Some TBIs that occur during labor are impossible to account for, but many can be prevented with proper imaging and screening beforehand. For example, a breech pregnancy occurs in 3 to 4 percent of all full term pregnancies and involves the child exiting the womb feet first instead of head first.  With proper examination, a doctor can normally detect a breech pregnancy before it becomes a concern.  However, if not noticed before the child begins to exit the womb, doctors may have to apply a dangerous amount of force on the child to facilitate delivery.  This force can break bones, stretch nerves or cause severe TBIs from lack of oxygen.

The most common TBIs are palsy or hypoxia.  Cerebral palsy can be caused by physical damage to the brain or head, or from lack of oxygen.  Cerebral palsy is a disorder that compromises a person’s ability to move or balance.  Cerebral palsy may also affect a person’s speech or ability to swallow.  In some cases it can also cause seizures or tremors.  While it is not a progressive disorder, cerebral palsy usually results in lifelong debilitations that can severely impact a person’s life.

Hypoxia is a dangerous lack of oxygen to a certain part of the body, and nowhere is oxygen deprivation more dangerous than in the brain.  Following delivery, a child’s oxygen circulation must be closely monitored, as airway obstruction is a common occurrence during delivery.  If the child doesn’t receive enough oxygen, severe brain damage may occur.  Brain damage due to hypoxia can result in a number of complications, including motor or speech dysfunction, cognitive disorders, or other development problems.  Damage due to hypoxia is typically not reversible, so children who suffer from it will likely need ongoing physical and mental therapy.

HOW CAN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CAUSE BIRTH INJURIES?

Pregnancy complications can arise at any time, and how the doctors respond will often determine the likelihood of a TBI occurring.  If doctors do not anticipate complications or do not adequately test for likely problems during pregnancy, they may not be fully prepared and ready for any complications.  For instance, if the child becomes tangled in the umbilical cord, this can restrict movement or oxygen circulation.  Doctors must be quick to spot it and respond appropriately.

Doctors can also cause damage to the newborn’s brain by exerting too much force during delivery, or by inappropriately using vacuums or forceps to facilitate delivery.

Children who are harmed in this way will often need lifelong care to manage their complications.  When medical malpractice is responsible for a TBI, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help a family attain compensation for the child.