West Virginia Birth Related Injury Lawyer
Each year, nearly seven out of 1,000 births result in a birth injury. Medical errors can occur during pregnancy, delivery, and even after the child is born and can leave the child with a lifetime of disability.
There are times when the negligence of a physician may cause a child to go without air for too long, during or after delivery, causing irreparable damage to the infant’s brain. Lack of adequate oxygen, also called asphyxia, can cause long term permanent brain damage. While not all infants who suffer from asphyxia at birth have permanent brain damage, the risk of cerebral palsy increases dramatically when it occurs. Therefore, a child, due to preventable mistakes made at delivery, may be permanently disabled. Cerebral Palsy can cause problems with motor-skill coordination, speech and learning.
It is imperative that the attending physician act quickly to protect the child from ensuing brain injury. Failure to order a caesarian (c) section delivery, improper use of forceps or a vacuum extractor, or not protecting a baby from potential illness during passage through the birth canal are all examples of physician error that can cause cerebral palsy. The lawyers at Colombo Law understand the sensitive nature of these cases, and can help you through this difficult time.
Paralysis from Birth Injury
Your baby is the most vulnerable when traveling through the birth canal and this is when many complications can arise. Asphyxiation from inadequate oxygen or umbilical cord entanglement, becoming caught on the pubic bone, or becoming poorly positioned, as in a breech delivery are common complications that can arise during delivery. While all doctors should know how to response to these complications to protect both you and your baby, sometimes they can fail to act carefully and swiftly enough to prevent injury. The following are common mistakes that can cause temporary or permanent paralysis to your baby:
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum delivery, causing facial paralysis
- Excessive pulling force during shoulder dystocia or breech delivery, damaging the brachial plexus nerves and causing paralysis to arms, shoulders, or face
- Improper Pitocin or epidural usage
- Delayed delivery or prolonged labor
Nerve damage can be caused by a difficult delivery due to the baby’s shoulder lodging against the mother’s pelvic bone. This can cause the infant to become lodged in the birth canal. This is a scary and potentially hazardous situation for both the infant and the mother. The baby must be extracted quickly and efficiently to avoid being put at risk for many serious complications. Though it can be extremely difficult for a doctor or midwife to predict shoulder dystocia, their actions when it occurs can mean life or death, disability or full health. Complications for the infant include severe asphyxia, clavicle fracture, fracture of the humerus, and in the worst case, death.
A paralysis of the arm caused by injury to the upper group of the arm’s main nerves, Erb’s palsy, or Erb-Duchenne palsy, is the result of damage to the brachial plexus nerves. This is often incurred during a complicated birth that involved shoulder dystocia and is characterized by limited mobility or partial paralysis in the upper arm, with a rotated lower arm. While Erb’s palsy can often resolve itself over the course of a few months, it can often require expensive rehabilitative therapy or surgery.
Very similar to Erb’s palsy, brachial palsy results from damage to the brachial plexus nerve bundle during birth and is often aggravated during shoulder dystocia during birth or breech delivery injuries. Brachial Palsy is characterized by limited mobility in the affected upper arm, as well as decreased grip. The most important thing to remember is that brachial palsy and Erb’s palsy are nearly always preventable during birth but recovery from any nerve damage is costly.
Common Types of Delivery Room Errors
There are many errors that can occur in a delivery room. Not all of them will result in harm, however some can cause serious or life-threatening birth injuries. It is important to be aware of these errors and their potential consequences. The following delivery room errors can be at the hands of an obstetrician, nurse, anesthesiologist or other hospital staff members and can potentially lead to head/brain injuries, cerebral palsy, shoulder dystocia, infection and other types of damage:
- Hospital neglect
- Forced delivery
- Delayed delivery or in ordering cesarean section (C-section) when medically necessary.
- Improper epidural
- Administering incorrect drugs
- Failure to take vital signs or to respond to fetal distress (including irregularities in the fetal heartbeat).
- Improper fetal monitoring
- Incorrect use of delivery instruments
- Miscalculation of contractions
- Improper extraction of the baby
- Failing to anticipate birth complications with a larger baby, or in cases involving maternal health complications.
- Failure to respond appropriately to bleeding.
- Failing to observe or respond to umbilical cord entrapment.
- Misuse of forceps or a vacuum extractor during delivery.
- Inappropriate administration of Pitocin, a synthesized hormone used to induce or augment (speed up) labor.
Contact Our West Virginia Birth Injury Attorneys
West Virginia state law dictates that your claim must be filed within two years of your child’s injury. This is why it is so important to diligently watch for signs of cerebral palsy before the statute of limitations runs out. There are some exceptions to this rule which may extend the statute of limitations. For this reason, it is imperative for you to contact and speak to an attorney as quickly as possible. The birth injury attorneys at Colombo Law, represent clients throughout West Virginia. Our firm offers free initial consultations on birth injury cases.
The birth injury attorneys at Colombo Law are aggressive, responsible and caring. We put the client first in everything we do. If your child has been seriously injured due to a delivery room error please contact our birth injury lawyers for a free initial consultation. Our attorneys can be reached at 304-599-4229, or by e-mail.