Birth-Related Injuries: What Parents Need to Know about Malpractice

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What injuries are related to negligence by a doctor or other health care provider during the birthing and newborn time? Here is a quick overview.

Some leaders of the medical community complain that modern parents expect to have a "perfect" childbirth process and that if they do not, they will file frivolous lawsuits against the obstetrician, midwife, nurse or other persons involved in providing the care. In our experience as attorneys who represent families and parents, this is completely untrue. Parents seek out lawyers and investigate
the legal process only when the child has suffered a devastating injury that has ruined or severely hampered a child's normal life.

There are three main types of injuries that occur at the time of birth and that can relate to negligence by a health care provider.

* Brain injury from lack of oxygen. The typical brain injury at birth is caused by asphyxia. The technical term is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. It typically results from inadequate oxygen to the baby's brain during the birthing process.
* Brain injury from direct trauma to the head. Another type of brain injury at birth is caused by trauma to the head that can result in bleeding inside the brain or direct injury to brain tissue.
* Nerve injury to an arm or hand. The typical nerve injury is called Erb's palsy or brachial plexus palsy.

It can take months or even years to determine how severe and permanent these injuries are. Children who suffer brain injury at birth often go on to develop a seizure disorder and/or cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is not typically diagnosed until a child has reached his or her first birthday, but the signs of CP are usually obvious long before that. Other times, children can have brain injuries that are very subtle until the brain is asked to do more complex tasks, as when they reach kindergarten or first grade.

Nerve injury is usually obvious shortly after birth. However, many nerve injuries can heal with time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick Malone
Patrick Malone is a leading patient safety advocate and attorney who represents seriously injured people in medical malpractice lawsuits, product liability cases and other types of lawsuits. Mr. Malone has won a long string of exceptional verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. He is the co-author of an acclaimed book teaching other attorneys how to win cases: Rules of the Road: A Plaintiff’ Lawyer’s Guide to Proving Liability. He appeared on the Today Show to discuss his book for patients, The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care – and Avoiding the Worst. Mr. Malone frequently is invited to give educational lectures to lawyer groups around the country and also speaks publicly to patients and health care providers about improving the safety of our health care system.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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