One of the most devastating events for new parents is the diagnosis of a disorder or disability that creates lifelong challenges for their child. Some birth defects are genetic, with little in the way that parents or even doctors can do to mitigate the risks. Others, however, are the result of preventable birth injuries.
Birth injuries encompass a wide range of different disorders. One of the most well-known is cerebral palsy (CP), a condition characterized by muscle weakness and lack of muscle control.
Cerebral palsy is the result of damage to a child’s developing brain. The problem with CP and other birth injuries is that the severity of the disorder is often not apparent until months after the child is born. Accordingly, proving that the negligence of a doctor caused the birth injury is often difficult.
Attorneys at Colombo Law have the experience to investigate what happened to your child and advise if you have a case. For a free case review, please call us at (304) 599-4229 today. Our law firm serves clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.
Identifying a Birth Injury
Newborns and toddlers can’t say in words when something is wrong, but they still communicate. Persistent crying may be an indication of pain or illness. If your baby cries when she/he is picked up or you perform other motions, this might help identify the source of the problem.
Other major signs of birth injury relate to delays or difficulties achieving developmental milestones. Babies develop at different rates, but there is a consensus on the age at which babies should be able to perform actions or exhibit skills such as:
- Raising their heads independently
- Rolling over on their own
- Hand-eye coordination
- Motor skills
Some babies may also exhibit cognitive deficits and emotional issues as a result of a birth injury.
The vast majority of parents will do whatever it takes to help their kids. If you believe that your child is struggling or suffering but your pediatrician doesn’t seem to share your concern, keep pushing for tests or get a second opinion.
Diagnosing a Birth Injury
Doctors may employ a number of different tests to determine whether your child is suffering from the effects of birth-related trauma. You may be asked to complete questionnaires inquiring about your child’s development, and the doctor will perform a physical exam of your baby to gauge his or her growth, motor skills, muscular control and response, vision, hearing, and more.
If the doctor suspects a problem, additional testing may be needed to determine what is causing your baby’s symptoms. These tests may include:
- Ultrasound imaging
- CT scans
- Laboratory testing of blood and urine samples
Birth injuries are often difficult to diagnose. The severity of the impairment varies from one child to another, and the symptoms of a particular disorder may overlap with those of another (or several others).
However, it is important to be patient and keep pursuing a diagnosis. Timely diagnosis of a birth injury will enable your child to get necessary treatment, resources, and support. Furthermore, a birth injury diagnosis may help you identify the party responsible for your child’s condition.
Proving a Birth Injury Claim
One of the most complicated aspects of birth injury cases is determining where fault lies. Multiple doctors, specialists, nurses, and other medical professionals are involved in caring for mothers and babies before, during, and after birth.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney will fully investigate the medical records for mom and baby and, if warranted, enlist experts to identify errors and determine if those errors caused your child’s birth injury.
The doctor or doctors responsible for the birth injury may include:
Primary Care Provider
Most women receive confirmation of their pregnancy from the family physician. Although some general practitioners do provide prenatal care, it is important to remember that they are not specialists in pregnancy or delivery.
The failure to provide a referral to an appropriate specialist (such as an obstetrician (OB) or obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN)) could mean that possible complications go unchecked, increasing the risk of a birth injury.
In providing prenatal care, obstetricians and gynecologists are in a position to identify issues that may put the baby and expectant mother at risk. A maternal infection, for example, should be diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion to avoid the risk of brain trauma and other complications for the baby.
Obstetricians and OB-GYNs also develop care and delivery plans for high-risk pregnancies. An error on the doctor’s part before or during delivery can put the child at risk for birth injuries.
Typically, the OB or OB-GYN will deliver the baby as well. During a vaginal birth, the doctor will be responsible for performing maneuvers to position the baby for delivery and making decisions concerning the use of vacuum extractors and forceps. Misuse of these devices can result in nerve damage to the face, neck, and shoulders, while keeping the baby in the birth canal too long increases the risk of oxygen deprivation.
OBs and OB-GYNs are also surgeons who perform cesarean sections (C-section) if it is considered a safer option than a vaginal birth. Failure to schedule a medically necessary C-section, failure to perform the surgery in a timely fashion, and errors during surgery can harm both the baby and mom.
Should the baby need to be delivered via C-section, the OB-GYN will be joined by an anesthesiologist. In addition to administering anesthesia, this doctor monitors vital signs during the operation to ensure the mother is not in distress.
Drops in maternal blood pressure and other complications require timely reporting and quick action to preserve the health of mom and baby. The anesthesiologist should also be able to identify issues with anesthesia dosage and administration of spinal epidurals and blocks. All of these issues increase the risk of birth trauma, as well as maternal injury.
Other Medical Personnel
Many different medical professionals will be in the delivery room when a baby is born. Not all of them are doctors; staff such as nurses and medical technicians also play a crucial role in monitoring maternal and fetal health and delivering the baby safely.
Unfortunately, negligence on the part of staff members also increases the risk of birth injury. Errors such as a failure to monitor or misadministration of medications can put mother and baby in jeopardy, potentially resulting in complications that can lead to lifelong issues.
Once your child is born, your pediatrician will perform developmental assessments and monitor the baby’s health. This includes diagnosing and treating conditions that could put your baby at risk.
Returning to the subject of cerebral palsy, one example of pediatric error is failure to treat jaundice. Untreated jaundice can develop into kernicterus, which is a risk factor for CP.
How Colombo Law Can Help with Your Birth Injury Claim
Birth injuries and other forms of medical malpractice are extremely difficult if not impossible to prove on your own. Medical records are complex, and doctors and other healthcare providers tend to cover for each other rather than come forward when something goes wrong.
It is important to contact an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as possible if you believe a medical error has harmed your child. The attorney can then perform a thorough investigation and contact experts to review your case.
If a medical error that occurred before, during, or after your child was born resulted in a birth injury, an experienced medical malpractice attorney should pursue maximum compensation on behalf of your family. The lifetime costs of a birth injury can be astronomical, and you shouldn’t have to face these burdens by yourself if someone else is responsible.
Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer in West Virginia Today
Colombo Law has been serving Morgantown and areas throughout West Virginia for over 20 years. We are committed to our community, which is why compassion is a cornerstone of our legal services.
A birth injury is a life-altering event for any family. You are not alone in facing this situation. Colombo Law will treat you with the respect you deserve.
For a free case evaluation, please call (304) 599-4229 or contact us online. With our No Fee Promise, you don’t pay attorney fees unless we win your case.