Posted on 12/27/2021

Can You Sue a Hospital for Traumatic Birth?

Can You Sue a Hospital for Traumatic Birth?

Many babies and mothers experience minor injuries during childbirth that often heal on their own. 

However, certain complications during childbirth caused by medical negligence can result in lifelong disabilities for the child.

Traumatic birth injuries are caused by inexperienced or incompetent healthcare providers. This can constitute medical malpractice.

Traumatic birth injuries are detrimental to the child’s wellbeing and family’s finances. Medical costs for cerebral palsy are 26 times higher for children who also have intellectual disabilities.

If you or your loved ones have experienced pain, trauma, or disabilities caused by a difficult childbirth, you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Continue reading to learn more about traumatic birth injuries, their risk factors, and how to file a successful case to get the compensation you deserve.

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What Makes a Birth Traumatic?

Birth trauma is damage that occurs to the baby’s body and brain during a difficult birthing process. 

Birth trauma can result in physical injuries caused by excessive mechanical force causing broken bones, organ damage, spinal cord damage, bleeding, lacerations, or oxygen deprivation leaving the baby with long-term disabilities.

In addition to physical force, traumatic birth injuries can also be caused by excessive delivery drugs or an abnormal position.

What Are the Risk Factors for a Traumatic Birth?

There are certain conditions that increase the risk of birth injuries for pregnant women. These can include:

  • Having a pelvis that’s too small for childbirth, resulting in cephalo-pelvic disproportion
  • Having prolonged labor
  • Giving birth to a baby over 8 pounds
  • Giving birth prematurely

What Are the Causes of Birth Injuries?

Traumatic birth injuries are commonly the result of excessive mechanical force or pressure during the delivery using extractive tools like forceps or vacuums.

Using forceps too forcefully can result in mild bruises to permanent brain damage or spinal cord injuries if the forceps grip the baby’s head or neck during delivery.

Vacuum extractors are also used in difficult deliveries to help deliver the baby out of the mother’s womb. Unfortunately, there are a number of conditions and injuries that can occur from these devices, including:

  • Brain bleeds
  • Hearing loss
  • Scalp lacerations
  • Jaundice
  • Skull fractures
  • Misshapen head

What Type of Complications Arise from a Traumatic Birth?

Traumatic birth injuries are broad and can be caused by excessive force, failure to properly screen the mother’s health during pregnancy, or negligence by failing to notice when the baby is in distress.

Brachial palsy or Erb’s Palsy

Injuries to nerves in the arms and hands can occur when there’s trouble delivering the baby’s shoulder. This can result in tearing nerves causing permanent nerve damage.

Facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy)

Forceps may apply excessive pressure on the baby’s face, injuring the facial nerve. Paralysis can be temporary or require surgery to correct.

Bone fractures

The clavicle is the most commonly fractured bone in a baby’s body during delivery. However, arm and leg bones can also become broken during difficult childbirth from a doctor pulling too hard on the baby during delivery.

Cerebral hemorrhage (brain bleeds)

Vacuum extractors can apply too much suction to the baby’s head, resulting in broken blood vessels that can cause bleeding in the brain. This leads to brain cells being deprived of oxygen, which can cause brain damage.

Oxygen deprivation (Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy)

This is a form of brain damage caused by limited blood flow in the baby’s brain. It can be the result of umbilical cord complications or mismanagement of a high-risk pregnancy. Oxygen deprivation can happen during prolonged pregnancies that last longer than 14 hours.

Spinal cord injury

A baby’s spinal cord may become bruised, partially torn, or torn during delivery. It can be caused by using traction on the spinal cord, rotating a baby into a better position, or from labor that is too quick.

Stillborn death

There are numerous causes that can result in a stillborn death, ranging from long before delivery occurs. These can be errors in the doctor’s screening, prescribing medications during pregnancy, and failing to address risk factors before birth.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder that affects a child’s movement, muscle tone, and brain development. It can be developed during birth or be caused by a brain injury during pregnancy, or immediately following pregnancy.

How Does Medical Negligence Lead to Birth Injuries?

Medical negligence often begins during pregnancy before delivery. 

Doctors and obstetricians may fail to properly screen mothers for high-risk conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, epilepsy, thyroid disease, or infections resulting in difficult childbirth.

During pregnancy, a doctor can be medically negligent by:

  • Using too much force to pull the baby during delivery, results in broken bones or nerve damage
  • Failure to properly monitor the baby’s heartbeat
  • Failure to detect fetal distress
  • Incorrectly using forceps or vacuum extractors causing traumatic birth injuries

After pregnancy, there is still a chance medical negligence can occur if the doctor fails to:

  • Control blood loss
  • Examine the baby for jaundice
  • Monitor the baby’s oxygen levels

Can You Sue for a Traumatic Birth?

When birth trauma occurs as a result of negligence or medical incompetence, it can constitute medical malpractice. However, not all traumatic birth injuries are a result of negligence and are caused by uncontrollable factors within the mother or infant’s body.

To win your malpractice case, you’ll need to provide proof that your child’s injury was preventable, and that your doctor failed to provide a duty of care.

Certain birth injuries and traumas aren’t immediately recognizable by doctors or parents and can result in poor developmental disorders as the child grows older.

If you suspect your child has experienced a traumatic birth injury, don’t wait. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer today who can review your case.

Contact Grover Lewis Johnson, Medical Malpractice Experts

Grover Lewis Johnson is a team of experienced and compassionate attorneys specializing in medical malpractice litigation.

Our team works on a contingency fee basis — this means you won’t pay any fees until your case is settled.

We carefully select our cases to ensure we can reach a practice resolution early on through settlement.

If you or your loved one suffered injury or death from failure to meet the accepted standard of care, our team will help you get the compensation you deserve.

Book your no-cost consultation today and we’ll help you determine if you have a successful medical malpractice case.

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