Your Helpful Guide To Birth Injury Lawsuits

No family should have to go through the experience of navigating a birth injury. It can be a really difficult and trying time and unfortunately, the impact on your family can be long-lasting. Your child could suffer a long-term issue that leaves you struggling with medical bills, and wondering who’s at fault.

Moments that are meant for cuddling and bonding, turn into hours of research. Trying to understand a new diagnosis and find treatment options. 

Depending on circumstances and blame, a birth injury lawsuit could potentially help. In this guide, we’ll answer your questions and do our best to point you in the right direction.

Common Birth Injuries

Birth injuries come in many different forms and can happen immediately before, during, or in the short period after childbirth.

These injuries can be temporary, or in some cases more severe.

Some of the more common injuries that affect families are:

► Bruising and bone fractures

Erb’s palsy

Kernicterus

► Cerebral palsy

► Cognitive disabilities

In this next section we’ll explain some of the reasons birth injuries occur. Follow along to learn more.

A closeup image of a baby's boy face.

Causes of Birth Injuries

There are many reasons for birth injuries. Some are natural and unavoidable while others stem from medical negligence. 

Difficult births can sometimes cause trauma to your child. For instance, if the birth calls for forceps then there may be bruising or scratches. Fortunately these types of injuries go away in a couple days, but sometimes worse harm is done.

Another common issue is oxygen deprivation which can lead to serious health conditions such as cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy, for example, can be congenital or acquired. Meaning it’s genetic or something happens to cause it.

No matter the cause, handling a birth injury can be challenging. If you feel like your baby’s injury was because of the lack of skill or attention by a medical professional, we encourage to reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer. You don’t have to go through this alone!

Does Your Baby’s Injury Call For A Lawsuit?

It can be difficult to analyze everything, especially in the midst of a traumatic experience. That’s why you need someone on your side to help you maneuver the situation and figure out who’s to blame. 

It’s possible there’s nothing your doctor could have done. But it’s also possible someone made a bad decision.

Healthcare professionals have a duty of care to follow to make sure your child is safe. Prenatal care and monitoring are part of this, in addition to the birth. If a healthcare professional drops the ball, you have every right to sue. You and your baby deserve better. 

Why Look For a Settlement?

In times of crisis, its hard to think about things such as money. But at some point, you may want to consider how this mistake will impact your family financially. 

It isn’t fair for a family to deal with the burden of mounting medical bills when someone else is to blame. That’s why many people turn to a birth injury attorney to help them sort through the options.

You may seek a settlement for any of the following reasons:

► You want to see a healthcare professional brought to justice.

► To ensure this doesn’t happen to somebody else.

► So you don’t have to struggle financially.

► Wanting to provide the best possible care for your new child.

No matter the reason, you deserve to have your voice heard and fight against this act of medical malpractice. 

A child's wheelchair with colorful red wheels.

What’s The Process For A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

The goal of any lawsuit is to figure out the truth. And also to provide justice for victims. That’s why it’s vital to work with the best birth injury lawyer possible. Someone who can represent you well and help prove the truth. 

The process will involve a legal consultation, of course. Be sure to bring copies of any and all medical records and correspondence between you and the doctor/hospital. Your lawyer will also help you establish how much should be sought in damages. 

Often times in birth injury lawsuits, a “Life Care Plan” will be brought forth. This plan helps estimate how much your child’s care will cost, over their lifetime. This may include the costs of therapy, medication, caregivers, transportation needs, and many other things. Your lawyer and the defendant (often times the hospital or insurer’s legal team) will go back and forth until they reach an agreement. If both parties don’t reach a settlement then it’ll likely go to court.

It’s important to remember that each state has its own statute of limitations, which is basically the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after an injury.  A lawyer will help guide you on this! 

How Long Will It All Take?

If your case goes to trial it can often take several years to fully resolve. This can be daunting for new parents. The good news is that in most cases, the guilty party will offer a settlement before it gets to that point. A settlement is a large sum of money that will be given all at once or in periodic payments. 

If you think you’ve been affected by medical malpractice and your child has suffered a birth injury because of it, don’t hesitate to contact us. It’s the first step in getting justice for your baby!

Why the U.S. Is Such A Dangerous Place To Give Birth

This might surprise you, but our great nation isn’t so great at keeping mothers and infants safe while giving birth. Take a look at these facts:

► More than 50,000 U.S. women suffer injuries each year while bringing their children into the world. 

► Almost 700 die during or shortly after delivery. (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) 

► The most recent maternal mortality rate (2018) was a whopping 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

These numbers put the US dead last among other wealthy developed countries. America ranks 55th in the world, according to the World Health Organization’s maternal mortality ranking. 

What does this mean? It means we lag behind poorer countries like Lithuania, Kuwait and Kazakhstan. It means that with all its wealth and prowess, the U.S. is the most dangerous developed country for giving birth. 

Here’s another surprising fact. Most countries have lowered or flatlined their maternal mortality rates over the years.  America’s rate has risen. The U.S. is one of only two developed nations whose maternal mortality rates have increased since 1990. The other is Serbia. 

A baby girl with a blanket on top of her head looks straight into the camera.

The Culprit

What’s the worst part about all these statistics? The fact that 3 out of 5 of childbirth-related deaths are preventable

Mothers should not die from common delivery complications. Doctors don’t need expensive procedures or new technology to help them. All they need to do is perform basic tasks that experts have been recommending for years. 

So why do the numbers keep rising? Last year, US Today dug through thousands of hospital records. They interviewed victims of botched deliveries to find some answers. This is what they discovered:

► The biggest culprits of maternal death are internal bleeding and strokes caused by high blood pressure. These are preventable!

► Hospital staff often ignore standard medical practice when treating mothers. They should be calculating blood loss instead of “eye-balling” it. They should administer medication for high blood pressure right away to prevent strokes. 

Unnecessary or botched C-sections are a leading cause of injury.

► Malpractice is widespread. It occurs in tiny, rural hospitals with few resources. It happens in the biggest birthing centers boasting the best technology and staff. 

► Data for maternal deaths exists. But the US doesn’t currently track childbirth injuries.

“Your wife’s just not a priority right now…”

Kira Johnson and her husband Charles chose what they assumed was one of America’s best hospitals to deliver their second son in April 2016. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles treated celebrities. So when the two eager parents arrived for Kira’s scheduled C-section, they never expected anything to go wrong. 

Sure enough, Langston Emile Johnson emerged healthy and happy. His mother was doing well. Soon, she drifted off to sleep. 

But hours later, Johnson noticed blood in Kira’s catheter. He mentioned it to a nurse, but no one changed the catheter until an hour and a half later. An ultrasound revealed internal bleeding, and doctors ordered a CT scan. Meanwhile, Kira was shivering uncontrollably, her skin deathly pale. Johnson begged staff to speed up the CT scan, but they told him, “Sir, your wife’s just not a priority right now.”

By the time doctors finally recognized Kira’s dire condition, it was too late. Her abdomen had completely filled with blood. She died during emergency surgery, twelve hours after giving birth. 

Charles later discovered that surgeons had nicked Kira’s bladder during the C-section. He filed and settled a medical malpractice lawsuit against Cedars-Sinai. Later, he told his story during March for Moms in Washington, D.C. Today, he continues to advocate for change. 

“There is nothing I can do to bring Kira back,” Johnson said. “But what I can do is to fight as hard as I possibly can to make sure we send mothers home with their babies.”

A husband and wife smile at one another as they hold their newborn baby.

Everyone’s At Risk, Even The Wealthy

Actor Dennis Quaid and his wife Kimberly’s case proves that medical malpractice before and after birth can happen to anyone, even the rich and famous. In 2007, their twins developed staph infections shortly after birth. Doctors prescribed Heparin, but the pediatric unit administered an adult dose of the drug—1000 times the safe amount for infants. Staff rushed them to the intensive care unit.

When the Quaids called the hospital to check on the twins’ condition, the staff lied and told them they were doing fine. But when they came in the next day, they found their precious children in critical condition. 

The twins recovered from the overdose about two weeks later, but the Quaids were understandably livid. They sued the hospital and won $750,000.

Not everyone is lucky to survive those kinds of errors. A similar drug snafu killed three premature babies at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. The cases are countless. 

American hospitals must do more to reduce the maternal and infant mortality and injury rate. Hospitals need to train their staff members better. Federal agencies need to do more to ensure that hospital staff follow best safety practices. But until that happens, it’s up to individuals to advocate for better care. 

If you (or a loved one) believe you have suffered from birth injury medical malpractice, we can help! Contact us here.

When A C-section Is Necessary (& When It’s Not)

Every woman wants an easy pregnancy. To enjoy her baby bump, daydream about her little one, and to have a smooth delivery. Complications are the last thing a mother wants to think about. 

Whether delivery is vaginal or via C-section, bringing a child into the world is an intense process. Doctors and midwives are wonderful and without their expertise, mortality stats would skyrocket. But every once in a while a healthcare professional makes a decision that’s more harmful than it is good.

In this week’s blog we’ll discuss some scenarios you should watch out for, and what you can do if you or your baby have experienced a birth injury.

When C-Sections Are Necessary

There are times when a C-section is absolutely necessary and is the only option for saving lives. Medical staff are highly trained and should understand which instances warrant an emergency surgery. Red flags include fetal distress, an irregular heartbeat, a tangled umbilical cord, and dangerous bleeding among other scary situations. 

In some cases, C-sections are even scheduled in advance. If the mother has certain health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension it may be safer to deliver the baby via C-section. Here’s a few more instances where a C-section may be the safest option:

►Problems with the placenta

►Delivery of multiples (twins, triplets, and more)

►The presence of a dangerous birth defect

►A baby that is too large or is in an unfavorable birth position

Whether a C-section is a last minute decision or scheduled ahead of time, your doctor is ultimately responsible for making the right choices and explaining things to you. Failing to act quickly can result in harmful injuries and in the very worst scenario, death.

A man wearing scrubs holds a newborn baby in his hands and is about to weigh her on a scale.

When C-sections Are Unnecessary

Sometimes C-sections occur when they’re not medically necessary. But why?

Every once in a while, a mother will elect to have a C-section for personal reasons such as fear of delivery or a busy schedule. That’s not generally the case though. The main culprit for unnecessary C-sections is long labor. Here’s what Neel Shah, an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, had to say about it:

“When it comes to cost, on average C-sections are reimbursed at 50 percent more than vaginal deliveries in the US. Eighty percent of the cost of labor and delivery is staffing, and C-sections generally require a small staff working for fewer hours. So it’s not the additional money the doctor makes. A vaginal delivery, from a resource point of view, just costs more.”

There you have it. When a mother has a long labor and delivers vaginally, it costs the hospital more. More money and more time. Women are sometimes pressured into having a procedure they don’t want to because of a lack of patience. If your doctor is throwing in the towel because they want to go to the ball game, that’s a problem. Especially if their decision impacts you and your child in a harmful way.

What Complications Can Arise?

Most of us are so familiar with term “C-section” that we forget it’s actually a major surgical procedure. Incisions are made through the abdomen wall and uterus to deliver the baby. You’ll likely have a 4-6 inch scar, will be in the hospital for a few days, and will need to take it easy for a couple of months. And that’s if everything goes smoothly.

In the event of a medical malpractice error, or simply an unforeseen circumstance you may experience any one of the following:

►Lacerations to other organs 

►Need for an emergency hysterectomy

►Higher risk of blood clots

►Too much blood loss

►Infection at the wound site

If your physician made a risky call and harmed you or your baby, there are things you can do about it. In fact, you should probably consider legal action.

A woman stares out the window as she sits in a chair with her knees cradles against her chest.

Botched C-sections: How To Take Legal Action

Even the most trusted professionals make mistakes under pressure but that’s still no excuse for medical negligence. Mothers and babies deserve the safest method of delivery and care. Performing a risky and unnecessary C-section can endanger everyone and make a doctor liable for malpractice. It may be difficult to prove that your doctor suggested a C-section when it wasn’t necessary, but if you experienced a birth injury, you may want to fight back.

Factors like payment or time of day shouldn’t influence a baby’s birth. If an injury affected you or your child, you should contact a birth injury lawyer right away. It’s important to learn what legal rights you may have and how to move forward.  

Keep Your Baby Healthy | National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Much like a new year, learning that you’re pregnant is a time full of wonder and excitement. 

A baby, despite their small size, changes almost everything. There’s a lot that goes into preparing for your little one, but really the #1 concern for most parents is how to keep their baby healthy.

You may not have known it, but January is actually National Birth Defects Prevention Month. What a great time of year to reflect on some practical tips that can help keep you and your baby healthy throughout pregnancy and delivery. Knowledge is power, so keep reading to learn more!

A pregnant woman holds her baby bump in the shape of a heart.

Prevent Birth Defects & Keep Your Baby Healthy

Each year, around 120,000 babies are born with a birth defect. To give you more perspective, this means that 1 in every 33 babies is born with an abnormality.  That’s a lot. Birth defects affect a child’s health and can alter their physicality, intellect, and development. Thankfully the CDC has many helpful recommendations that help prevent birth defects.

Here’s a few steps you should take once you learn you’re pregnant:

► Since you just received the good news, there’s no better time than now to select your doctor and schedule an appointment. Your doctor should be able to answer all of your questions and they’ll also see you for checkups throughout your pregnancy.

► It’s really important to steer clear of substances like alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs. If you’re planning on getting pregnant, avoid them before trying to conceive. None of these substances are safe for your baby. 

► Check with your doctor about the prescription medications you currently take. Professional counsel can help discern whether certain medications are safe or not. Some medications actually cause birth defects, so due diligence is vital.

► It’s also recommended that you get your flu and Tdap vaccinations during each pregnancy to help prevent illness. Not all vaccinations are safe to receive during pregnancy, so always consult with your doctor first.

Stay Healthy During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a difficult time in a woman’s life. With so many changes happening all at once it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Don’t forget to take time for yourself…prop those feet up and relax. Why? Because you deserve it, simple as that.

To keep you and your baby healthy, keep these tips in mind:

►According to the CDC, “Most women need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day to help prevent birth defects. Women who might have pregnancies at high risk for certain birth defects should talk to their doctor about the right amount of folic acid for them.” Folic acid is a B-vitamin found in multivitamins and foods like breads and breakfast cereals.

►Consult with your doctor if you’re traveling abroad. According to the CDC, “Pregnant women can generally travel safely with a little preparation. But they should avoid some destinations, including those with Zika and malaria risk.” (Many diseases, including Zika and malaria, can cause birth defects and learning disabilities.)

►Prepare raw food items with great care, wash your hands during the cooking process, and avoid being around people that are sick. Infections can travel to the baby and cause birth defects.

Keeping a healthy diet and getting your recommended amount of exercise will keep you on the right track to a successful pregnancy. Be sure to visit the CDC’s website where you can read many more tips on how to maintain a healthy pregnancy. 

A woman lathers soap in her hands underneath a faucet.

Avoiding (& Identifying) Malpractice

So we’ve discussed a number of ways to protect your baby before birth, but how do you protect your baby during birth?  Unfortunately medical errors and negligence are very real and prevalent problems. Conditions like cerebral palsy and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy sometimes happen because of a careless mistake. 

Sadly, mistakes like these are usually unavoidable. But here’s some tips that can be helpful in a medical setting:

► Have a family member or friend there with you. Beyond the emotional support they can provide, their presence helps keep the medical staff accountable. When you’re under an anesthetic or incapacitated, a friend can help ensure you receive prompt and thorough care. An extra set of ears and eyes is almost always a good thing.

► Unfortunately not all doctors have good bedside manner. If your doctor says something that’s confusing or you don’t understand, ask them to clarify. You deserve to know exactly what’s going on, treatments that are taking place, and what to expect during the process. Being aware can help you avoid malpractice in some cases, and identify it in others. 

► Doctors make mistakes, so stay attentive to anything that feels off. If you need to, ask for a second opinion. Don’t worry about hurting your physicians feelings, you and your baby’s health are far too important.

► Stay in tune with your body. Be aware of symptoms, changes, and effects in you or your child’s health. Communicate these with your doctor to make sure they’re paying attention to your needs and are providing the care you deserve. Take note when they’re not, both for prevention and worst case, future legal action.

► Again, staying aware and in the loop helps prevent malpractice, so don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions, and even take notes if something seems off.

January, National Birth Defects Prevention Month, is a great time of year to both refresh your personal knowledge, and to promote awareness in your community. Together, we can help decrease the likelihood of birth defects and keep moms and babies healthier!

What are a Houston OB/GYN’s Responsibilities?

 

Obstetrician showing a pregnant woman her ultrasound.When a woman is pregnant, they need to go to a doctor who specializes in
obstetrics and gynecology. These are often referred to as OB/GYNs. These
doctors understand everything about pregnancy, labor, and delivery so
the mother has a knowledgeable professional on her side who can put her
mind at ease during this process. There are a number of things OB/GYNs
must do to provide the service a pregnant woman needs. Here are some of
their responsibilities.
Continue reading What are a Houston OB/GYN’s Responsibilities?

Birth Injuries Caused by Forceps & Vacuum Extractors

 

A hand wearing blue surgical gloves holding forceps.If a mother struggles during delivery, the doctor may use certain tools
to help. Two of these tools are forceps and vacuum extractors. Forceps
are used to help assist the birthing process when the mother is unable
to push the baby out. The forceps are usually placed around the head of
the baby. The vacuum extractor is a soft or hard cup that may be placed
on the top and back of the baby’s head. It provides a suction that
can help assist to pull the baby out.
Continue reading Birth Injuries Caused by Forceps & Vacuum Extractors