Friday, August 15, 2014

Will the Country’s Current Baby Boom Result in an Increase in Birth Injuries?

An increase in births has reportedly occurred in the United States since 2013. Washington D.C., alone, is said to have seen an increase in the months of April through June of 2014 of 100 births per month over the same period in 2013. Many speculate that this recent baby boom is due to a recovering economy after a lengthy recession, while others have suggested that the recession itself—which forced many into idleness—was responsible for many of the “extra” births. Whatever the cause, the increase in births will unfortunately coincide with something that cannot be celebrated: an increase in childbirth injuries. 

Causes of Childbirth Injuries 
Childbirth injuries may occur through no one’s fault or through the negligence of a parent, healthcare provider, and/or a defective product. Care must be taken throughout a woman’s pregnancy—by both the woman and her physician—to prevent many types of birth injuries. Care must also be taken by all those involved in the birth of a child during the labor and delivery stages of childbirth. 

Thus, the failure to properly monitor and manage a pregnant patient’s condition throughout pregnancy or conditions or complications that develop to a fetus during the pregnancy may result in serious childbirth injuries or even death to the fetus. The failure to monitor the vital signs of both mother and child during labor and delivery or to timely and properly respond to complications that arise during these stages may also result in childbirth injuries or death. 

Types of Childbirth Injuries 
A wide variety of childbirth injuries may occur as a result of childbirth complications or medical negligence. Many childbirth injuries are caused by asphyxia, or lack of oxygen, to the fetus. These injuries can result from umbilical cord compression, nuchal cord (the wrapping of the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck), placental rupture, and other complications not timely recognized and adequately dealt with during a woman’s pregnancy or during the labor and delivery stages of childbirth. Asphyxia injuries may result in cerebral palsy and other serious brain injuries or death.

Shoulder dystocia is a childbirth complication involving the catching of a fetus’s shoulder on the mother’s pelvic bone as the fetus travels through the birth canal. If not properly managed, this complication may result in brachial plexus palsy and other serious or even fatal injuries to a fetus. 

A fetus may also sustain serious childbirth injuries or death as a result of a physician’s failure to timely order a C-section when one is indicated (for instance, when the fetus presents in a breech position) or the physician’s negligent performance of a C-section delivery. 

Legal Liability for Childbirth Injuries 
An obstetrician or other physician as well as nurses and other medical professionals who assist in the delivery of a child or treat a woman during her pregnancy may be found liable for a child’s birth injuries or death if such injuries or death are determined to have been caused by the negligence or such medical professionals. In many cases, the hospitals or other entities that employ such individuals may also be found either directly or vicariously liable for such injuries or deaths. 

When any of these instances of medical negligence result in non-fatal childbirth injuries to a fetus, compensation for damages suffered by a child as a result of those injuries may be recoverable in an action for medical malpractice against the responsible medical professionals and hospitals. If such negligence results in a fetus’s death, a wrongful death action may be brought by the child’s survivors (generally, the child’s immediate family members) against the same defendants to recover damages suffered by the survivors as a result of the death. 

Medical Negligence during Pregnancy 
A number of conditions or complications during a woman’s pregnancy may lead to a fetus’s death or childbirth injuries if not properly recognized and managed by health care professionals responsible for the care of the woman and her fetus. Both the woman and her fetus are patients of these medical professionals during the woman’s pregnancy, labor, and delivery of her child, and both are owed the duty of care required by medical professionals in the treatment of their patients. 

Thus, a nurse’s or doctor’s failure to properly monitor a woman’s diabetes or weight gain during her pregnancy, for instance, may result in fetal conditions leading to birth injuries such as those caused by shoulder dystocia, which often occurs when a fetus over a certain weight has difficulty fitting through the birth canal. 

Medical Negligence during Labor or Delivery
A nurse’s or doctor’s failure to properly monitor the vital signs of both a mother and fetus may result liability of the doctor or nurse if such failure is found to have been a cause of childbirth injuries or death of a fetus. Fetal or maternal distress, if not timely recognized and responded to, for example, may result in such liability if the failure leads to asphyxia injuries or death.

Birth Injuries Are an Increasing Concern 
Today’s writer, Jeffrey Killino, a highly-regarded child-injury and birth-injury attorney with extensive experience with all types of child and birth injury cases, is concerned with the prevention of childbirth injuries. Attorney Killino’s knowledge and expertise with cases involving injuries to children during childbirth or otherwise have led to his appearances on major television networks such as CNN, ABC FOX, and the Discovery Channel, including appearances related to his case against Mattel, Inc., which resulted in an order that Mattel offer free lead-testing to children who may have been exposed to lead-containing toys.

Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with this client. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I personally believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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