According to JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association), medical malpractice closely tails heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in the U.S. We would love to believe that our doctors are infallible — after all, we put our lives and the lives of our loved ones in their hands. But the unpleasant truth is, examples of medical malpractice are everywhere, and birth injury rates are especially high. Recent birth injury research indicates that as many as seven out of 1,000 babies will suffer some sort of preventable birth injury. The most common birth injuries are:
1. Bone fractures. The collarbone is an especially vulnerable and delicate part of a baby’s recently formed body, and is most commonly broken during a difficult delivery.
2. Swelling of the scalp. This again can be attributed to excessive roughness and pressure at the hands of a doctor during delivery. Although most cases clear up on their own, some are severe enough to cause lasting damage.
3. Forcep-related injury. Often used as a last-resort extraction tool during a particularly difficult delivery, forceps most closely resemble large barbecue tongs, and are typically administered around a baby’s head or neck. If used incorrectly, forceps can cause cranial and spinal damage that will effect a baby for the rest of its life.
4. Cerebral palsy. About 2% of babies are diagnosed with congenital Cerebral Palsy, or CP, the cause of which is directly related to a brain injury sustained in the birthing process. The most common delivery complication related to CP is that the brain is deprived of adequate oxygen, particularly if a delivery takes too long.
What To Do When A Birth Injury Occurs
It is important to have a plan in place before a possible birth injury. None of us want to think our child or our loved ones will be involved in a birth injury, but planning will increase the chances that signs of a birth injury will be detected and that any eventual birth injuries will be dealt with properly. Some steps you can take to reduce the risk of injury and deal with one when and if it occurs are:
-Have a detailed birthing plan agreed upon by all parties including your chosen medical professional.
-If possible, hire a doula to advocate for you before, during, and after the birthing process. Doulas are particularly important if you choose to receive pain medication during the birthing process and can make your wishes known when you may not have the presence of mind to do so.
-Make sure someone is monitoring the entire birthing process and looking for signs of birth injury or malpractice.
-If you think you are the victim of malpractice or your child has suffered a birth injury, contact a lawyer.
Wait, a lawyer? Even if I’m not sure the doctor is culpable?
Yes, a lawyer. In particular, get in contact with a few Westchester law firms if you live in a convenient geographical location. Many Westchester law firms have direct experience dealing with medical malpractice and birth injury cases. In fact, the well known Westchester law firms were recently responsible for successfully litigating over 47 million dollars for their clients in a single year.
We’re not encouraging you to be craven. It is important to involve legal professionals such as the Westchester law firms early on in the process, as there could be a statute of limitations on filing a claim. Furthermore, there could be clues and evidence of malpractice that, if not investigated early, will disappear. Finally, an experienced birth injury lawyer will be able to identify more of these clues than the average layman due to their extensive study of normative birthing practice and hospital procedure.