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Birth Injury Medical Malpractice: Frequently Asked Questions

It's estimated that approximately one out of every 9,714 infants born in the United States suffer a birth injury. Having a baby who was injured by the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional is devastating, and you might not know if you have a case or how to file a lawsuit.

No matter what the severity of the injury, if a healthcare professional's negligence led to your child's life being affected, you have the right to seek compensation. Here are a few frequently asked questions you might have about birth injury medical malpractice.

Is My Baby's Issue a Birth Injury or Birth Defect?

There is a distinct difference between a birth injury and a birth defect, and understanding the difference can help you determine if you have a case. A birth defect is a condition that developed while the baby was in the mother's womb. For example, if the mother took a certain medication, or was exposed to a toxin, it could result in a birth defect.

Examples of birth defects include a cleft palate, clubfoot, spina bifida or a sensory issue such as blindness or deafness.

A birth injury occurs while the baby is being delivered and is caused by a difficult birth, complications or a doctor's negligence.

What Are Some Examples of Common Birth Injuries?

Once again, a birth injury occurs while a baby is being delivered, and it can be anything from a minor injury to a serious issue that will impact the child's quality of life. Here are a few common birth injuries:
  • Cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is one of the most well-known and devastating birth injuries. Cerebral palsy can occur in-utero, but it can also occur when a baby is deprived of oxygen during the birthing process.
  • Bone injuries. If the labor is difficult or if there is an underlying condition or an accident during the birth, a baby can suffer a broken bone. One of the most common is a broken collar bone.
  • Brachial plexus injury (BPI). The brachial plexus is a series of nerves that control the hands, arms, and shoulders. A minor BPI can heal on its own. However, a severe BPI can lead to loss of motor function or even paralysis.
  • Cephalohematoma. A cephalohematoma is a collection of blood that pools between an infant's skin and skull. This is typically not life threating, although it can lead to other complications, such as jaundice.
These are only a handful of the many types of birth injuries. If your child suffered a birth injury and you aren't sure whether you have a case, don't hesitate to contact an attorney.

How Will My Attorney Prove the Doctor Was Negligent?

For you to successfully win your lawsuit, your attorney must prove the doctor, healthcare staff or hospital was negligent. Typically, this involves proving that the birth injury was caused by a mistake or that the doctor did not meet a basic standard of care.

For example, if the doctor allowed the labor to progress past the point where a knowledgeable healthcare professional would have performed a Caesarian section and a birth injury occurred, this could be grounds for a lawsuit. Another common example of medical malpractice is the improper use of medications, such as pain medication or Pitocin, or the improper use of delivery tools, such as a vacuum or forceps.

Typically, your lawyer will hire an independent medical professional to examine the case to determine if the healthcare staff was at fault or if the injury occurred despite the doctor's best efforts.

Unfortunately, birth injuries are common and often avoidable. If your newborn suffered a birth injury due to a healthcare professional's negligence, don't hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Robert Dodson, P.A.