Causes of Birth Injuries
Inadequate Prenatal Care
The medicine related to childbirth is safer for women and their babies now than ever in history. Modern medicine should make birth injuries and deaths rare. However, we still see doctors and other health care providers routinely making errors that put mothers and children at risk of serious, permanent injuries.
Searcy Denney has represented countless families of injured babies over the past three and a half decades. We are always struck at how truly preventable birth injuries are. Too often, an otherwise healthy baby faces a lifetime of disability, pain, deformity and challenges because of a doctor’s negligence.
Our medical malpractice law firm is available to help you recover for the birth injuries your child suffered because of negligence committed by your doctor, nurses, the hospital and other health care professionals.
Inadequate Prenatal Care
Inadequate prenatal care contributes to the risk of birth injuries. Proper health care should start as soon as a woman learns she is pregnant. From that moment, the doctor should regularly assess the mother and take special precautions to reduce risks associated with a mother’s:
- Heavy weight or obesity
- Very small stature
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Low blood pressure
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Insufficient iron or folic acid
Obstetrician gynecologists (OBGYNs) specialize in medical care of the female reproductive organs and in promoting healthy pregnancy and delivery. OBGYNs are responsible for administering safe birth control, detecting diseases of the female organs and protecting women’s health during pregnancy and childbirth.
For 45 years, Searcy Denney has advocated for women and children to receive the medical care they deserve. Our medical malpractice attorneys hold obstetricians liable for mistakes that put you or your baby’s health at risk. Our Florida birth defects lawyers pursue compensation for your injuries, such as disability, infertility, sexual dysfunction, pain and incontinence, caused by your OBGYN’s negligence.
Obstetric Mistakes That Injure a Mother During Pregnancy and Labor
Pregnancy and labor are traumatic on a woman’s body. However, with quality medical care, long-term damage is rare. An experienced obstetrician provides good prenatal care, assesses risks factors, monitors the woman’s health throughout pregnancy and takes steps to minimize trauma during labor.
Negligent obstetric care may result in these injuries to the mother:
- Untreated gestational diabetes. A woman who has never had diabetes may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. If properly monitored, the mother should otherwise experience a normal pregnancy. Untreated gestational diabetes, however, may lead to high blood pressure or preeclampsia.
- Untreated preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can result in stroke, seizure, heart failure, blindness, liver problems and post-delivery hemorrhaging. An experienced obstetrician often recommends bed rest and medications or may induce labor of a late-term baby.
- Uterine prolapse. Uterine prolapse may occur if the muscles and ligaments of the pelvic floor become overstretched and weakened during a difficult delivery. The condition may ultimately lead to discomfort, pain, infected ulcers, infertility, sexual dysfunction, difficulty urinating and rectum prolapse. To prevent this debilitating condition, an obstetrician may recommend C-section for mothers who are older, have a history of difficult delivery or are carrying a larger than normal fetus.
- Nerve damage. Obstetric negligence can result in nerve damage to a new mother. A misplaced epidural can result in lumbosacral plexus injury and prolonged vaginal delivery may result in femoral nerve dysfunction, both of which affect her legs. Women with postpartum nerve damage often require use of a walker or a wheelchair for several weeks or months after delivery and may never fully recover leg sensation, strength and functionality.
Not Recommending C-Section When Appropriate
Cesarean sections give women access to a safe alternative to traditional vaginal birth. Unfortunately, negligent doctors often fail to adequately assess risk factors that contribute to a dangerous vaginal delivery. Doctors should consider the mother’s weight, age, and overall health and the baby’s weight and health to recommend a C-section when appropriate. C-sections can often prevent many common birth injuries, including brain damage, cerebral palsy, brachial plexus injuries, Erb’s palsy and facial nerve damage.
Failure to Recognize Fetal Distress
Fetal distress is an indication that the fetus is in trouble, often because of oxygen asphyxia, during pregnancy or delivery. This is a medical emergency that requires an immediate, effective response.
Oxygen asphyxia may be caused by:
- Mother’s anemia during pregnancy
- Mother’s low blood pressure during pregnancy
- Pinched placenta during delivery
- Prolapse or delivery of the placenta before the child’s birth
- Detachment of the placenta from the uterus too soon
- Baby lodged in the birth canal during a difficult delivery
- Poorly formed lungs or airways of a premature baby
If the doctor does not act quickly enough, the baby may experience prolonged oxygen deprivation and consequent brain damage.
Pulling on Infant’s Shoulders
While trying to guide the baby through the birth canal, a doctor may pull too hard on the baby’s shoulder, arm or head. As a result, the head may turn awkwardly to the side or an arm may get trapped. This aggressive action can overstretch or tear the nerves of the brachial plexus and cause serious, sometimes irreversible, damage. A brachial plexus injury manifests as deformity, weakness, numbness, pain and paralysis in the affected arm, hand and fingers.
Labor and Delivery Negligence
Labor and delivery negligence occurs when a medical professional or facility makes a mistake (a deviation from the acceptable standard of care) that results in injuries to the mother or the fetus. Negligence in the delivery and recovery rooms give rise to a medical malpractice cause of action.
Searcy Denney has represented injured Florida patients for over 45 years. Because our law firm only handles complex personal injury claims, we have built the necessary resources and knowledge to take on large corporate hospitals and insurance companies on our clients’ behalf.
Birth injuries cause tremendous physical, emotional and financial strain. Our goal is to recover the compensation you need to give your child the very best opportunities for medical care and enjoyment of life.
Elements of a Labor and Delivery Negligence Claim
In order to prevail on a labor and delivery negligence claim, you must prove that your doctor had a duty to you, your doctor breached that duty, you were injured as a result of the breach and you sustained damages. You may bring a case for yourself, on behalf of your young child or both.
Liability of Medical Professionals and Health Care Facilities
Multiple professionals may have been part of your delivery team, including:
- Obstetrician gynecologist (OBGYN)
- Labor and delivery nurse
- Registered nurses
- Maternal fetal doctor for high risk pregnancy
- Neonatologist for premature or injured baby
- Medical residents or students
- Hospital staff
All of these health care providers have a duty to perform at an acceptable standard of care, meaning they are required to act in a manner consistent with a similarly situated health care provider.
In addition, the hospital has a duty to provide you with a safe, sterile environment with competent staff. Diagnostic labs have a duty to produce accurate, timely results to tests.
Mistakes During Labor and Delivery
You may have a labor and delivery negligence claim if medical professionals and health care providers deviated from the acceptable standard of care that injured you or your newborn child. Our medical malpractice attorneys regularly handle labor and delivery injury claims involving:
- Failing to accurately assess risks to the mother’s or child’s health
- Not recommending Cesarean section when appropriate
- Failing to induce labor or inducing labor too soon
- Improperly inserted epidural needle, resulting in nerve damage
- Inadequate monitoring of the baby for fetal distress and subsequent oxygen asphyxia
- Tugging on the baby’s arm, resulting in shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injury
Damages Arising from a Labor and Delivery Malpractice Claim
Damages depend upon the facts of your case and the extent of your baby’s injuries, but may include:
- Medical bills
- Neonatal care
- Special equipment and housing
- Future medical treatments
- Your and your partner’s lost income
- Disabilities of your child
- Your child’s pain and suffering
- Your and your partner’s mental anguish
Learn How Birth Injuries Occur and Could Have Been Avoided
Medical negligence may be to blame for your baby’s birth injuries. For more information about your rights and options to recover from negligent doctors and hospitals, schedule a free consultation with Searcy Denney. Every Florida birth injury lawyer at our firm takes your claim on contingency so you do not pay lawyers’ fees until we have succeeded in reaching a settlement or a successful verdict.