Every parent is thrilled to bring a new baby safely into the world, but not every delivery goes as smoothly or as safely as expected. Some infants suffer birth injuries during the delivery process, and the consequences can be traumatic for both the children and their families. While some of the injuries incurred during delivery cannot be avoided, some birth injuries are caused by medical negligence. When medical professionals fail to meet their standard of duty, newborns and their families can suffer dire results.
Birth Injury Cases
Birth injury legal cases are the result of birth injuries that are sustained by either the newborn or the mother during, or sometime before, the delivery process, and that are a result of a medical professional's negligence or intentional actions. Medical professionals or medical facilities that are found legally responsible for a birth injury can be made to pay for the damages the victim and the young family suffer, including:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses
- Resulting pain and suffering
- Resulting disability
- Resulting loss of enjoyment of life
- Resulting loss of future earnings
- Resulting disfigurement
- Punitive damages (in certain circumstances)
- Birth injuries are often financially, physically, and emotionally devastating, and the consequences of such injuries are usually ongoing.
- Monitoring Fetal Conditions
For obvious reasons, medical professionals are held to strict safety policies and protocols during the delivery process. There are several crucial monitoring systems implemented during a baby's birth that measure for important timely indicators relating to fetal and maternal distress. The medical team involved is responsible for ensuring that the vital information generated by these monitors is accurately compiled and appropriately utilized in making critical medical decisions throughout the delivery.
Monitoring for Fetal Oxygen Deficiency
Throughout labor, the medical team will monitor the fetus for oxygen intake. If an abnormal or dangerous intake pattern is identified, an emergency cesarean section will probably be necessary. Several maternal indicators are associated with increased risk of fetal oxygen deficiency, such as:
- High birth weight
- Small maternal pelvis
- Increased amniotic fluid
- Birth of multiples
- Meconium (baby's first stool) excretion
- Difficulties during pregnancy, including placental abruption, placental previa, uterine rupture, and excessive bleeding
- Complications arising from maternal-fetal Rh factor incompatibility
- There are also indices that point to fetal oxygen deficiency during the delivery process, such as:
- The fetus's movements inside the womb are decreased or irregular
- The fetus has either an increased or decreased heart rate—especially during maternal contractions
- The fetus exhibits an unusual variability in its heart rate pattern
- The fetal blood exhibits increased lactate levels that can indicate lactic acidosis
- The amniotic fluid tests positive for meconium
- When a fetus is deprived of oxygen during the birthing process, the baby can present with a variety of symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased acid in bodily fluids
- Brain damage or disorder
- Organ damage
At birth—if fetal oxygen-deprivation was ongoing—the baby may appear blue, not exhibit breath sounds, not cry, have poor muscle tone, and exhibit a low heart rate. Such babies may also present with low APGAR scores and exhibit either a low pH or an elevated Base Excess (as indicated by blood sampling from the umbilical cord) with their blood gas testing. Such scores can be indicative of metabolic acidosis or low oxygen that can be the result of a difficult or an inadequately monitored and controlled labor.
Oxygen Deprivation after Delivery
Sometimes babies—usually premature babies—appear healthy at birth but quickly develop Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS). The symptoms of RDS often include grunting, gasping, or labored breathing. If the baby is premature, these signs of weak breathing can be a result of the infant's immature lungs. If RDS does occur, the newborn will most likely need resuscitation with supplemental oxygen that can be delivered via mask or intubation. Without this necessary resuscitation, the infant's blood can develop high CO2 levels, which is an indicator of respiratory acidosis. An infant with respiratory acidosis has an increased risk of developing a brain bleed, which can lead to serious physical conditions such as Cerebral Palsy.
Whether oxygen deprivation occurs during the birthing process or after, effective monitoring and timely medical intervention are necessary for ensuring the baby's health. The potential consequences of medical negligence when it comes to monitoring fetal oxygen intake and administering appropriate medical intervention are so significant that you should seek experienced legal counsel immediately if your child suffers from a birth injury. As difficult as your situation may be, it is in your child's and your family's best interest to act quickly. Birth injury cases are complex, and your birth injury lawyer will need to quickly begin collecting evidence, interviewing your medical team, consulting with medical experts, and determining fault in your unique birth injury case.
If Your Newborn Suffered a Birth Injury, Contact a Clearwater Birth Injury Attorney Today
Not all babies are safely delivered to ecstatic young families. Birth injuries do happen, and these injuries are sometimes the result of negligence on the part of the medical team or facility. Pinpointing this negligence, however, is not always straightforward; you need experienced legal counsel. If your baby suffered a birth injury due to a fetal oxygen deficiency, contact a skilled birth injury lawyer as soon as you can after recognizing the injury. The experienced Clearwater birth injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are dedicated to protecting the rights of birth injury victims and their families, and we are here to help. We have the experience, skill, and commitment to bring your birth injury case to its best possible resolution. Please contact or call us at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation today.Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900