Parents get nine months to prepare for the birth of their babies, but no expectant parent prepares for the possibility that their child may suffer a birth injury. Unfortunately, there are many different birth injuries that may occur when negligence is involved. One of the most serious injuries babies may suffer during childbirth is a brain injury.
Typically, a baby’s brain in injured when there is a lack of oxygen. When the brain is damaged, a child’s ability to reason, speak, and develop normally may be affected for life. It’s disheartening, but sometimes birth brain injuries are the result of doctor negligence.
Some of the ways in which negligence occurs during pregnancy or labor and delivery may include:
- Pregnancy negligence. When a doctor fails to monitor a pregnancy carefully, fails to detect a maternal infection, or prescribes a harmful medication during pregnancy, a brain injury may be the result and medical negligence may be to blame.
- Failure to perform a C-section. Sometimes there are complications with a mother’s health or a baby’s health and an emergency cesarean section surgery should be performed; however, a doctor may fail to perform a C-section in a timely manner. This can be the case if a baby is too big, suffers from irregularities in the heartbeat, or if there is a change in the mother’s blood pressure or she is profusely bleeding. When doctors fail to act quickly and appropriately in ordering the C-section, a baby may suffer unnecessary birth injuries.
- Umbilical cord entrapment. When babies are being pushed out of the birthing canal, it is up to the doctor to guide the baby appropriately and monitor the placement of the baby’s umbilical cord. Sometimes, the umbilical cord gets twisted or is wrapped around a baby’s neck and causes a lack of oxygen to the baby. When doctors fail to recognize umbilical cord entrapment or the signs of hypoxia during childbirth, a birth brain injury can occur. In fact this is one of the leading causes of hypoxic brain injuries.
- Untreated jaundice. Some babies are born with jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by high bilirubin levels. If bilirubin levels are too high, a newborn should be placed under special lights that helps remove the bilirubin from the baby’s body. When a doctor fails to detect jaundice, fails to treat high levels of bilirubin, or there is a delay in treatment, a baby can suffer brain damage.
- Failure to recognize another health condition. Sometimes babies are born with adverse health conditions that need immediate treatment. Typically, this is the case for premature babies who have a hard time breathing. Doctors should be monitoring infants closely so that any potential harmful condition can be caught and treated in a timely manner.
- Incorrect use of birthing tools. When babies are stuck in the birth canal and no amount of pushing is helping, an OB/GYN may decide to use a birthing tool such as forceps or vacuum extractor to help pull the baby out. When done wrong or with too much force, a baby can suffer serious forceps injuries, including brain damage that can lead to cognitive issues, seizures, and cerebral palsy.
- Attempted delivery of a breeched baby. When babies are breech, they should be delivered by caesarean section. This is because they could suffer from a lack of oxygen if their heads become stuck during a normal vaginal birth. It is always safer for babies to be born head first, so when doctors fail to monitor breech births correctly, they can be held accountable for medical negligence.
These are all acts of medical malpractice that could have been prevented if doctors and nurses acted with a reasonable standard of care. When medical professionals are careless, fail to provide adequate care to expectant mothers and their babies, or if they don’t act reasonably during childbirth, serious birth injuries can occur.
If you believe a doctor’s medical negligence was the cause of your child’s birth brain injury, it is important to have your case evaluated by a medical malpractice attorney who has experience handling birth injury claims. At Shevlin Smith, we would be honored to evaluate your case for free and provide you with your legal options. We would also like to offer you a free copy of our book, What You Need to Know Before Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Case.