An Ohio couple recently settled their medical negligence claim against their local hospital after their son was born with severe, life-altering brain damage in 2006. The Ohio Court of Claims determined that the obstetrician overseeing the birth failed to properly manage the labor, improperly administered the drug Pitocin, and took too much time to determine whether the child should be born by Caesarian section. After more than 24 hours at the hospital, the doctor performed the C-section and the baby was born with oxygen deprivation which resulted in brain damage. The 7-year-old child now requires constant medical care. The family will receive $5.25 million in compensation for the birth injury.
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Prevalence of birth injuries
A birth injury is defined as an impairment of a body function or structure that was cause by adverse influences during a birth. Although unfortunate, birth injuries occur in Chicago and around the U.S. at alarming rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 1,000 babies born in the U.S., 7 are born with mild to severe injuries consistent with those found in the Ohio couple’s child. With the number of live births that occur daily throughout the nation, that equates 76 birth injuries per day. These preventable injuries usually result in the following conditions:
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Spinal cord damage
- Facial paralysis
These conditions manifest in varying severity but most of the children who suffer from these disorders endure life-long effects and consequences.
The result of negligence
Birth injuries occur due to the negligent actions of healthcare professionals. Often, as in the case of the Ohio couple’s child, a doctor does not act in time to prevent oxygen deprivation from damaging a baby’s brain. Sometimes if a vaginal birth is underway, a doctor will opt to use forceps to aid the mother in the delivery. If used improperly or with too much force, the forceps can cause the child to have brain or nerve damage. The same can occur when a doctor utilizes a vacuum to keep a child from receding back into the birth canal between contractions.
How to prevent birth injuries
Patients can protect their babies from birth injuries by ensuring that they have all of the best information available on the progress of their labor. Having a partner, friend or family member there to gather information and help a mother make informed decisions is key. If at any time a patient feels that something is not right, they should always ask for a second opinion from another doctor.
Whether brought about by hospital error or a doctor’s inaction, birth injuries can be a devastating result of medical malpractice with medical, mental, emotional and financial consequences. Those who have been affected by a birth injury should contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss how to move forward with their case.