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Birth Errors

If you or your newborn baby suffered injuries that were birth-related and you feel the doctors, medical staff or hospital was to blame, read on to learn more about medical negligence and when it is possible to pursue damages against the negligent party.


Medical malpractice happens when reasonable care is not followed by the hospital, doctor or medical staff during labor or delivery. Malpractice occurs when the harm could have been prevented had the doctor chosen the correct treatment or used the care or proper skill during the birth.


Childbirth is a very emotional time and when things do not go as expected emotions can run high. For a legal perspective, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss your situation and determine whether or not your situation can be perceived as negligence and eligible for damages.


Here are examples of injuries that occur at birth that could have been preventable.


Cephalohematoma is the name of the birth injury that occurs when a vacuum extraction is used. Blood pools in between the cranial bone and the skin and the condition is typically resolved within three months with no medical intervention.  Caput Succedaneum is a similar result of using vacuum extraction. This is seen visually as bruising and swelling of the scalp and this will usually go away after a few days.


Brachial plexus birth palsy, also called Erb’s Palsy occurs as the result of the neck or shoulders of the baby is stretched extensively during childbirth. A nerve cluster around the neck is damaged, resulting in numbness, weakness and loss of range of motion in the arms of a baby. There are different levels of severity to this condition ranging from going away on its own to needing surgery or physical therapy if it is still present at three months.


Bone fractures that happen during delivery to the collarbone or clavicle. This is a fairly common occurrence that is sometimes unavoidable. However, if the doctor knew this could happen and did not offer an alternative course of delivery, such as a C-section, he/she should have suggested the other options.


What situations justify pursuing a legal recourse?


As in all medical malpractice cases, the level of care that is appropriate for each circumstance has to be examined. If this doctor performed like any other doctor with the same skillset, they are said to have provided care in accordance with the medical standard of care. If you can show proof that if another doctor who was similarly skilled had delivered your baby the injury would not have occurred, you may have a case for medical malpractice.


Sometimes because of the nature of childbirth and the sometimes unexpected issues that come up, physicians have to make split-second decisions, especially if the health of the mother or newborn is in jeopardy. If a resulting injury is a risk of avoiding a more serious issue, then the physician may not be guilty of negligence.


On the other hand, if the physician failed to respond to a precarious situation, such as when a baby is in danger and the medical team does not perform a C-section in time to save the baby from being brain-damaged because of lack of oxygen, the medical team could, indeed, be held liable in a medical malpractice case.


An experienced medical negligence lawyer Salt Lake City, UT turns to can best advise you concerning any birth injuries you or your baby sustained during delivery.


Thank you to our friends and contributors at Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into medical malpractice and birth errors.

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