A little over 4 million babies are born in New Mexico and throughout the United States each year. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 1,000 of those newborn babies suffers some form of a birth injury during labor or delivery. In many instances these injuries are avoidable if the attending physician acts according to proper hospital procedure and responds appropriately to a medical emergency. If a doctor or hospital staff member does not respond quickly or appropriately in an emergency situation and a birth injury results, the doctor, staff member and hospital can be held liable.
Some of the more common birth injuries range from mild to severe or even permanent injury. The more mild injuries are thought to be curable or the child will recover from the injury. Unfortunately, a number of birth injuries can result in lifelong consequences, including permanent mental and or physical disabilities.
The most common of birth injuries include Brachial palsy (Erb’s palsy) which is damage to the brachial plexus, a grouping of nerves around the shoulder that control a baby’s ability to move his or her arms. If damaged during birth, usually through too much pressure being applied to the baby’s shoulder region during delivery, it could cause a permanent weakness in or inability to move the arm or hand, called Klumpke’s palsy.
Other birth injuries include too much vacuum suction during extraction resulting in a skull fracture or other temporary or permanent injury. Other injuries include paralysis of the face and bone fractures. Injuries to a baby’s spinal cord can be especially horrific for parents and baby and result in full or partial paralysis.
Doctors and healthcare providers are held to a high standard and when their service falls below the expected standard level of care they can be held liable through a medical malpractice claim. When a child is permanently injured at birth, parents are left with not only the overwhelming emotional pain but the knowledge they may have to pay for their child’s medical and rehabilitation expenses well into the future. A successful medical malpractice suit might provide some comfort in knowing their child’s medical expenses will not fall entirely on their shoulders.
Source: Injury Lawyer News, “One in 1,000 Infants Suffers a Birth Injury,” Tracy Ray, June 29, 2012