Bringing a baby in to the world should be one of the most joyful experiences in life. If your child was born with injuries, this maybe the result of medical malpractice. If you suspect your child’s injury or condition was caused during birth, do not hesitate. Call us right way.
The statute of limitations on this type of case is generally two years. Our doctor/attorney, Bob Messey and nurse/attorney, Gayle Sullivan will begin a thorough legal and medical investigation into the events surrounding your child’s birth.
The most serious injuries that can occur during childbirth are those that affect the baby’s brain. A lack of oxygen to the baby during delivery-hypoxia or anoxia- is usually what causes birth trauma and often results in irreversible brain damage. Lack of oxygen can be caused by things such as the placenta separating from the uterus wall too early, a problem with the umbilical cord, the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby’s neck (nuchal cord) or labor that takes too long.
Another thing that can cause a baby to suffer brain injury or brain damage during birth is infection. This can be the result of membranes that are ruptured or water that has broken for too long, or an untreated or unrecognized infection in the mother.
Babies can also suffer brain injury at birth from trauma — improper use and force of forceps or vacuum extractor used in the delivery, for example.
Another fairly common birth injury is Erb’s Palsy, or brachial plexus injury. This is a nerve injury often associated with a large baby. The nerves that are damaged control muscles in the shoulder, arm, or hand. As a result of the injury, the arm and shoulder can be completely or partially paralyzed.
Unfortunately, sometimes a baby suffers a birth injury such as cerebral palsy or infection that is related solely to the birthing process. The baby’s size or position during labor and delivery can contribute to such an injury.
Other birth injuries can be the result of negligence or medical malpractice. Failing to anticipate, recognize or react to changes in the baby’s heart rate, use of excessive force, failing to anticipate the size of the child, and failing to perform a Cesarean section (C-section) are other factors that can lead to birth injuries.
Signs and symptoms of birth injury may not be noticeable for months or longer. Parents may think the cause of the injury is genetic when, in fact, the cause is malpractice. Often, parents think their child’s injuries are unavoidable birth defects. However, these injuries may be the result of negligence on the part of healthcare practitioners including the obstetrician, OB/GYN, nurse midwife, anesthesiologist, pediatrician, or labor & delivery and newborn nursery nurses.
Indications of birth injury you may notice in the hospital:
- Low Apgar score – usually less than 7 at one minute and five minutes,
- Baby seems floppy, pale or blue after birth, or does not nurse vigorously,
- Baby has a weak or feeble cry,
- Baby has seizures and neurological problems in the first few days after birth,
- Baby doesn’t move one arm as well as the other,
- Baby’s mouth droops on one side.
Birth injury is sometimes caused by medical malpractice in the following situations:
- Improper monitoring of the mom and baby in the prenatal period-before labor starts,
- No fetal monitor attached to measure the baby’s heart rate during labor,
- Not recognizing or properly responding to fetal distress, or changes on the monitor in a timely manner,
- Allowing the pregnancy to go past 41 weeks without proper testing,
- Failing to act on changes in the mother’s or baby’s condition during pregnancy,
- Allowing labor to continue more than 24 hours with ruptured membranes,
- Causing or not recognizing that the umbilical cord is twisted, crimped or compressed,
- Misuse of a vacuum extractor or forceps,
- Misuse of the labor-stimulating drug Pitocin,
- Not performing a C-section in a timely manner,
- Poor resuscitation and newborn care after birth.
The attorneys at McEnery Price Messey & Sullivan can help you determine if your child’s injury is the result of medical malpractice. If after talking with you we think your doctor, nurse midwife or nurses may have been negligent, we’ll meet with you, and get copies of your medical records from before, during and after delivery to see if the standard of care was met.
If your child’s injury was caused by a mistake on the part of a healthcare provider, a lawsuit can be brought for your child’s past and future medical expenses, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering. You should be aware that in Connecticut, there is generally a 2 year statute of limitations for bringing these lawsuits even on behalf of a child, and even when the full extent of the injury is not yet known. If your child has an injury or condition that you think was caused during birth, DO NOT WAIT to call us.