Having a baby should be a joyous occasion, but if you, your baby, or both have been injured due to complications and errors during pregnancy or delivery then joy turns to complete stress and anguish—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Don't feel that you need to go through this alone. We want to help. In over 30 years of practice, we have dealt with multiple cases of birth-related injuries and errors. Cases involving:
Birth Related Brain Injuries
Birth related brain injury is often a result of a lack of oxygen during the birthing process. This can lead to cerebral palsy or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Although physicians are trained to recognize symptoms of cerebral palsy, they often fail to do so. Their failure may further damage your baby's brain. Injury to your baby because of their failure to identify symptoms of cerebral palsy may be a form of medical malpractice. Because cerebral palsy is a life-long injury, you may be entitled to a lifetime of financial benefits to cover the costs of care and special needs your baby may require.
Charles G. Monnett III was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina to the Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board, and he has served on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Brain Injury Association for over 10 years. Contact us for a free case evaluation. We can help.
Kernicterus, or Hyperbilirubinemia, is brain damage caused by high levels of bilirubin, the yellow pigment seen on babies with jaundice. While most jaundice conditions are not severe birth injuries, left unmonitored kernicterus can lead to minor learning disabilities, hearing loss, cerebral palsy or even death.
Symptoms of early onset kernicterus are excessive jaundice, poor feeding, hypotonia (poor muscle support), and fatigue or lethargy. As the condition worsens, symptoms include seizures, bulging in the fontanel (“soft spot”), and high-pitched shrieks or cries. At the most severe point of kernicterus, symptoms include high-frequency hearing loss, an increase in seizures, and muscle stiffness or problems with movement.
Failure to Monitor Prenatally or During Labor
Errors and complications can occur at any time during pregnancy. A healthcare provider is expected to monitor, diagnose and treat the mother and baby for complications so that the pregnancy can result in a healthy newborn and safe pregnancy for the mother. Failure to monitor prenatally, during birth, or after birth may be cause for medical malpractice. The doctor or healthcare provider must have acted in a manner that was not reasonably competent in relation to others in the same field and in a similar location. If you suspect you did not receive the appropriate care for you and your baby, you experienced complications, and you were injured by this, please contact us for a free case evaluation.
Prenatal monitoring is the foundation to the health and welfare of both mother and child. When a mother is not adequately monitored, risks to the mother's health can jeopardize the pregnancy. Complications such as:
- Gestational diabetes: Too much blood glucose (blood sugar)is not good for you or your baby during pregnancy. It can lead to cesarean section births, high blood pressure for the mother, difficult birthing due to a larger baby, low blood glucose in the baby, and even breathing problems.
- Preeclampsia: Often this complication is not known until the mother has taken a blood pressure and urine test. High blood pressure and protein in the mother's urine puts the mother at risk for a stroke or impaired kidney function, impaired liver function, blood clotting problems, pulmonary edema (fluid on the lungs), seizures and, in severe forms, maternal and infant death. Preeclampsia can manifest very quickly, you may be normal in the morning and seriously ill by the afternoon. It is best to err on the side of caution and visit a care provider immediately.
- Placental abruption: When the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus (placental abruption), the baby is at risk for growth problems, premature birth, or stillbirth. If you experience vaginal bleeding while pregnant, it is imperative that you visit your care provider immediately. Your care provider should perform an examination and an ultrasound to detect placental abruption. Unfortunately, not all cases of placental abruption can be detected with an ultrasound. However your care provider should monitor you and your baby especially during times of vaginal bleeding while pregnant.
- Placenta accreta: The opposite of placental abruption is placenta accreta, where the placenta attaches itself too deeply to the wall of the uterus. Depending upon the severity of the attachment (accreta, increta, percreta), you and your baby may be at risk of a premature delivery. Vaginal bleeding while pregnant is a sign of this complication. Your healthcare provider should be notified immediately of vaginal bleeding to diagnose and monitor you and your baby for these complications. Placenta accreta is harmful to the mother in that you may hemorrhage in attempting to remove the placenta from the uterine wall. Other complications such as damage to the uterus and other organs, and even hysterectomy, can arise with placenta accreta. It is important that you discuss surgical options with your healthcare provider.
- Placenta previa: A low lying placenta in the uterus that partially or completely covers the cervix during pregnancy is placenta previa. It is more common among women who have had more than one child, a cesarean birth, surgery on the uterus, or twins and triplets. A common sign is painless vaginal bleeding during the third trimester of pregnancy. Also be aware of premature contractions, the position of the baby (breach or in transverse position), and if the size of the uterus is larger than gestational age.
If your healthcare provider fails to monitor you and your baby during your pregnancy for these complications, and you experience one of these complications, your pregnancy may be at risk and you may have a case for medical malpractice. To determine if you have a medical malpractice case, please contact us for a free case evaluation.
FETAL MONITORING DURING LABOR
Fetal heart rate monitoring during labor is when the healthcare provider checks the baby's heart rate to ensure that it is in the normal range and to proceed with labor and delivery unless other complications are present. The care provider may either monitor the heart rate periodically or continually depending upon your pregnancy risks, the policies of the care facility, and how labor is actually going. If there are no complications or risks to your pregnancy, either way is acceptable. If during labor there is a change in the baby's heart rate, it may be monitored more frequently and the healthcare provider should assess the cause in the change and take steps to correct it. An abnormal heart rate for an extended period of time may mean that the baby is not getting enough oxygen and may possibly cause cerebral palsy or other brain damage. Some ways in which the doctor may correct the abnormal heart rate would be a change in the mother's position, giving more fluids, supplementing oxygen, stopping Pitocin, use of medications that relax the uterus or decrease contractions, using a catheter to inject sterile fluid into the uterus, or ordering a cesarean birth.
Fetal monitoring may also allow the healthcare provider to assess the baby and mother for other signs of distress that may cause complications like fetal hemorrhage, stillbirth, a prolapsed umbilical cord, or seizures after birth due to low oxygen. If you experienced any of the these during your pregnancy or labor, and your doctor acted negligently, you may have a case for medical malpractice. We'd be happy to discuss your case with a no-obligation consultation.
Shoulder dystocia & other brachial plexus injuries
In the moments surrounding your child's birth, nothing is more important than hearing the first cries and the subsequent reassurance from doctors that your baby is healthy. When doctors suddenly interject that your child may have suffered damage, this blissful moment transforms into a moment of panic, fear, and anxiety. Unfortunately, when a child is diagnosed with a brachial plexus injury caused by shoulder dystocia, the initial moment of turmoil for the parents is followed by years of challenges for the entire family.
Shoulder dystocia is frequently caused by delivery room error. The doctor may fail to recognize that a baby is breech or too large to be delivered naturally. Rather than performing a Cesarean section, the baby is forced through childbirth, often with the use of forceps or vacuum.
Erb's palsy, first described by and named after Wilhelm Erb, is a condition in which the infant's neck is stretched and the muscles pulled so that the infant cannot move his arm effectively. This condition happens to one or two babies in 1000 and can happen during a difficult delivery. It can also happen when a doctor pulls too hard on the baby during birth causing the stretching in the infant's shoulder. Erb's palsy injuries are indicated by a loss of feeling in the arm and partial or complete paralysis, and the severity of the injuries falls into one of four types of nerve injuries:
- Neuropraxia - a stretch but not a tear in the nerve
- Neuroma - a stretch resulting in scar tissue that results in some, but not total, recovery
- Rupture - a torn nerve
- Avulsion - a nerve is torn from the spinal cord
Our attorneys have extensive knowledge and understanding of shoulder dystocia and the obstetric medical malpractice which often leads to brachial plexus injury. We use our experience and skills as well as a team of professionals to determine the extent of the injury, how the injury occurred, and how we can help you recover the financial resources you need. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation, or call us toll-free at 800-377-9077.
Premature rupture of membranes
The mother's water breaking is normally a sign that the baby is on the way. But if the rupture of the membranes is premature, the healthcare provider should be notified immediately and steps should be taken to prevent injury and infection to the baby. If left untreated, rupture of the membrane can lead to chorioamnionitis, an infection that may cause cerebral palsy. Although more time spent in the womb is ideal, a ruptured membrane increases complications to the baby and mother. Typical complications resulting from a ruptured membrane are:
- respiratory distress syndrome
- neonatal sepsis
- umbilical cord prolapse
- placental abruption
- wrongful death of the baby
UMBILICAL CORD PROLAPSE
When the umbilical cord drops (prolapses) through the open cervix before the baby and typically happens when there is a premature rupture of membranes, it can cause medical injury to the baby, or even stillbirth. Doctors have multiple ways in which they can detect an umbilical cord prolapse by either measuring the baby's heart rate, pelvic examination, or even feeling or seeing where the umbilical cord is. A decreased heart beat of less than 120 beats per minute, called bradycardia, will cause a lack of oxygen to the baby. The longer the delay in which the doctor makes any determination of umbilical cord prolapse and fails to make any corrections or decisions that would help the baby could be a medical malpractice claim.
If your water broke and your baby suffered any of the above complications from improper medical care, contact our medical malpractice lawyers for a free case evaluation, or call us toll-free at 800-377-9077.
Retinopathy of prematurity
Retinopathy of prematurity is a disease that is more prevalent with a premature birth. The baby's eyes will have an abnormal amount of blood vessels that grow, which results in a detached retina and could eventually cause blindness if undetected in time. Improper screening of a premature baby for retinopathy, lack of supplemental oxygen, poor timing of an initial examination or follow-up, and negligent examination and follow-up are all possible cases for medical malpractice. Contact our medical malpractice lawyers for a free, no-obligation case evaluation, or call us toll-free at 800-377-9077.