The team at Pacific Medical Law is well versed in the special challenges of cases involving birth injuries caused by medical negligence and malpractice. A birth injury can occur during the birth process itself or be the result of inadequate prenatal care.
When a birth injury occurs, the consequences are often devastating and life-altering for both the infant and the rest of the family. Unfortunately, these injuries are often catastrophic and result in the infant needing a lifetime of specialized care, therapies, and modifications to structures to allow increased safety or easier movement.
The events that lead to these types of injuries are sometimes unpreventable (such as a congenital disorder) but many situations arise because a doctor, nurse, or another medical practitioner involved in the labour and delivery neglected to do something they should have done.
At Pacific Medical Law, we have extensive experience in litigating birth injury cases caused by medical malpractice. These cases can, and often do, involve extremely complex medical issues and technicalities. We work with some of the leading experts in these fields to make sure that we not only have all the information we need to build the best possible case, but we also have expert witnesses available to provide testimony for your claim when it’s needed.
A birth injury medical malpractice claim is nothing like a typical personal injury claim. You need to enlist the help of a law firm that understands both the law and the medicine behind the claims being made. A lawyer that doesn’t understand anything about medicine or labour and delivery isn’t going to do you any good in the courtroom.
You need a law firm that has the medical knowledge required to investigate and understand the nature of your child’s injuries, as well as the advocacy and legal skills required to present birth injury and medical malpractice lawsuits. At Pacific Medical Law we have the specialized skills that you’ll need fighting for your child.
Consequences Of Common Birth Injuries in Vancouver
There are many types of birth injuries that can occur during those precious moments when a new life is trying to make its way into the world. Some can result in damage in just a second or two while others may go unnoticed for minutes, causing lifetime damage.
Asphyxia is the medical term for oxygen deprivation in the body. Birth asphyxia is caused when the baby doesn’t get enough oxygen for a long enough period of time that it causes either damage or death. This lack of oxygen can result in permanent brain damage. It can be caused by improper monitoring prior to or during the birthing process. The most common condition that most people associate with this type of brain injury is cerebral palsy.
Brachial Plexus Injuries
Brachial Plexus injuries are injuries to the nerves that can leave one or more arms either partially or completely without feeling and sometimes involves facial paralysis. The nerve damage usually occurs when a baby’s neck is stretched too far to one side during a difficult birth and the nerves in the shoulder on that side of the body become damaged.
This type of injury can often result in what is known as Erb’s palsy. It is also sometimes called Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy.
Shoulder dystocia is when one or both of the baby’s shoulders get stuck in the birth canal during birth. Dystocia itself means difficult birth or labour. It is often referred to as fetal distress in more common terms.
Shoulder Dystocia can ultimately result in several other conditions such as bone fractures to the collarbone and arms and damage to the brachial plexus nerves (see above).
In the mother, it can cause problems such as postpartum hemorrhage, serious tearing of the perineum, and uterine rupture.
When doctor’s suspect that Shoulder Dystocia may become a problem during birth, they will often suggest scheduling a cesarean section (c-section) rather than going through natural birth.
Birth Injury Risks During Pregnancy
When you say “birth injury”, most people think of something that occurs specifically at birth or at least during labour or delivery. There are many risk factors and warning signs, however, that also present themselves and indicate potential problems and complications during pregnancy. Whether you are seeing a doctor, nurse, midwife, or any other healthcare provider, they are obligated to provide you with the expected standard of care. This specifically includes taking the necessary time to assess any conditions during your pregnancy that may place your unborn baby at risk for serious injury, immediately or in the future.
Risks for birth injury are significantly increased when certain factors are at play, for example:
- Maternal infection
- Gestational diabetes
- Maternal obesity
Birth Injuries During Labour
When you go into labour, from the moment you enter the building where you will have your baby, the action of every doctor and staff member that you come into contact with will have a direct consequence on how the birth of your baby goes.
Proper monitoring is key during labour. All modern hospitals have equipment that can be used to keep track of both maternal and fetal oxygen levels and blood flow. This enables the medical professionals around you to take immediate action if problems arise.
Unfortunately, even with this technology, improper monitoring is not uncommon and many babies have suffered as a result.
In addition to improper monitoring and failure of staff to properly respond to warning signs, risks for birth injury also increase because of over or under medication, failure to check a patient’s chart for pre-existing conditions, failure to respond to fetal distress and failure to properly respond to maternal stress, too.
Birth Injuries Following Delivery
Even after your baby is born, there is still risk for harm by negligent or mistaken healthcare providers. Many conditions can be caused or exacerbated at this point because of improper care following delivery. Some things include:
- Failure to provide oxygen
- Failure to respond to signs your baby is in distress
- Failure to execute necessary medical procedures
- Failure to diagnose infection
Malpractice Doesn’t Mean Intention
Even though most medical providers do their best to practice according to expected standards, that doesn’t always mean things go as planned.
Between doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical staff, it’s easy to lose track of how many people you actually come in contact with and how many of them actually have an effect on the outcome of the birth of your baby. They all do their best to provide good medical care and meet a high standard of care. That, however, doesn’t mean that things don’t go wrong sometimes.
Filing a birth injury claim is not about “making someone pay” for what has happened. When we start a case about severe injuries caused at birth or even for wrongful death, it is to make sure that your child receives the full and fair compensation to which he or she is entitled.
When your baby suffers a serious injury at birth, it’s usually going to mean that they will need extra money and special medical care for the rest of their lives in order to ensure that he or she has a good quality of life and the ability to do as much as possible on his or her own. Anything less would simply be cruel and unjust.
Pac Med Birth Injury FAQs
What Is A Birth Injury As Opposed To A Birth Defect (Congenital Disorder)?
A birth injury is an injury that is caused to the baby during pregnancy, labour, delivery, or shortly after birth. If the injury was caused by negligence, medical personnel involved in birth injuries may be held liable for their failure to provide the expected care.
A birth defect, more appropriately known as a congenital disorder, is usually unavoidable. It is often caused by genetics or improper development that can not be prevented even with proper care.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition that can arise from a birth injury. Cerebral palsy is defined as a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture. It’s caused by damage that occurs to the immature brain as it develops. It can be caused by factors before, during, and after birth. CP can be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain—known as birth asphyxia.
What Are Some Of The Symptoms Of Cerebral Palsy?
Signs and symptoms of CP often appear during infancy or in preschool years. It generally causes impaired movement such as abnormal reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteady walking, or a combination of any of these symptoms.
Some people suffering from cerebral palsy have trouble swallowing and commonly have a muscle imbalance in their eyes—both eyes don’t focus on the same object. Muscle stiffness can also cause a reduced range of motion in some parts of their bodies.
Effects can vary greatly between people. Some can walk without assistance while others need partial or complete assistance. Some show normal or nearly normal intellect, while others display intellectual disabilities. Epilepsy, blindness, or deafness also might be present.
What Causes Medical Injuries During Labour?
Labour is difficult for both mother and baby, especially when it becomes a long process. There are many different causes of injuries that can occur during labour and delivery:
- Uterine rupture during a vaginal birth
- Failure to treat a herpes infection in the mother
- Failure to detect and respond to a non-reassuring fetal heart rate
- Failure to properly administer oxytocin
- Failure to detect and respond to tachysystole (excessive contractions)
- Failure to expedite the delivery of the baby when progress has slowed or stopped
- Failure to properly manage an operative vaginal delivery (i.e vacuum or forceps)
- Failure to recommend a caesarian section.
Contact An Experienced Vancouver Birth Injury Lawyer
A medical negligence lawsuit involving a birth injury requires the expertise of a law firm that knows how to deal with these special cases and everything they involve. When you enlist the help of Pacific Medical Law, that is exactly what you will get.
From the moment we begin working together, our team of legal and medical professionals will perform a full investigation of your case including a full review of the medical records. You’ll know that you have a medical negligence lawyer on your side, ready to fight for your child’s rights and keeping you informed every step of the way.
Consultations are always free and confidential. You can contact us online or call 1-604-685-2361 toll-free to schedule an appointment for your free consultation at any time. We’ll be happy to go over the details of your case, give you a full case evaluation, and discuss exactly what we can do to help you.