Articles Posted in Birth Injuries

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While mothers and infants generally fare much better during labor and delivery than they did in years past, Syracuse birth injuries still happen regularly. Obstetricians, anesthesiologists, nurses, and others are quick to point out that complications can arise even when healthcare workers “do everything right.”

However, these medical workers are human, and they don’t always “do everything right.” When things go wrong, the costs on the family can be staggering. Medical expenses, lost wage for the parent(s), lost earning potential for the child, and pain and suffering are all damages for which a malpractice victim can be financially compensated by the jury in a medical malpractice case – if the case makes it to trial.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a minor child who was born at the defendant hospital via an emergency cesarean section. The plaintiff’s complaint setting forth a claim for medical malpractice alleged that his birth occurred after a prolonged slowing of his heartbeat during delivery and that he suffered numerous injuries as a result from the defendant’s deviation from the accepted standard of care. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, urging the trial court to hold that the plaintiff had failed to provide sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue material fact such that proceeding to trial was necessary.

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Birth injuries caused by negligence during childbirth and delivery are, unfortunately, quite common. Just like surgeons and general practitioners, obstetricians and pediatricians sometimes make mistakes, and both mother and child can suffer serious, sometimes even fatal, consequences.

As with other types of Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. Typically, the defendant will attempt to get the case dismissed prior to trial via summary judgment.

When this happens, the result usually depends on the strength of the parties’ respective medical expert witnesses. Unless there is a genuine issue of material fact presented by their affidavits, the court will likely rule in the defendant’s favor.

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Not all doctors are held to the same standard of care. For example, it would probably be difficult to hold a podiatrist liable for failing to diagnose an abscessed tooth in a Syracuse medical malpractice case, even if the podiatrist was the only medical professional that the patient had seen recently. Rather, care and treatment by doctors who specialize in a particular field is measured according to others in that field. Would a reasonable podiatrist have diagnosed a problem tooth under the circumstances? Probably not (although he or she might have recommended follow-up with a dentist). In contrast, a podiatrist’s failure to recognize and treat a life-threatening infection in a foot wound might result in a finding of liability for negligence, as well as substantial damages at trial.

Likewise, certain knowledge and skill is expected of doctors who specialize in the care and treatment of expectant and laboring mothers. When this duty of care is breached, a family injured by this act of malpractice should have their day in court.

Facts of the Case

In a case originally filed in the Supreme Court for Putnam County, the plaintiff was a man who filed a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation for the death of a woman who died from a uterine rupture and hemorrhage during a home birth assisted by a certified nurse midwife. According to the plaintiff, the decedent had previously given birth via cesarean section but was, at the time of her death, attempting to deliver a child vaginally. The plaintiff further alleged that the decedent’s uterus had ruptured during the attempted vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC) and that she had suffered a fatal hemorrhage as a result. Several different medical providers were named in the plaintiff’s lawsuit, including an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB-GYN) and his medical practice.

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Generally speaking, a claim for medical malpractice must be filed within two and one-half years (30 months) of an alleged act of medical negligence in the state of New York. While some circumstances can operate to lengthen the time for filing a claim, other circumstances can shorten the period substantially. For instance, if the defendant in a proposed Syracuse birth injury lawsuit is a governmental entity, the plaintiff may have as little as 90 days in which to file a notice of claim (a condition precedent to the filing of a lawsuit against certain government entities, including those who own or operate hospitals).

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the petitioner was an infant, proceeding through his mother and natural guardian, who sought to assert a medical malpractice claim against the respondent city hospital corporation (a public entity). Although the infant was discharged from the hospital shortly after his birth in April 2013, he did not file a motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim until May 2016 – more than three years after the alleged act of medical negligence. The Supreme Court of New York County denied the petitioner’s motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim, and he appealed.

The Court’s Decision

The New York Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the lower court’s order denying the relief sought by the petitioner. According to the court, both the infant and his mother received pre- and post-natal care at the respondent’s hospital in 2013. In the reviewing court’s opinion, any medical malpractice claim that the petitioner might have had against the respondent accrued upon the petitioner’s discharge from the hospital; thus the applicable claims period began to run more than three years prior to the filing of the petitioner’s motion for leave to serve a late notice of claim.

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A Syracuse medical malpractice case can have many issues and may take several years to ultimately be decided. While this can be daunting to a would-be plaintiff, this does not mean that a claim against a careless doctor or other medical professional should not be pursued. If you believe that you or a loved one has been hurt by a doctor’s mistake, the best course of action is to talk to an attorney about your case as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were the parents of a minor child who allegedly suffered certain injuries as a result of the negligence of the defendant doctors and medical clinic during labor and delivery. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a defense verdict. The plaintiff made an immediate oral motion seeking a mistrial on the basis of substantial juror confusion. The trial court granted the motion. Thereafter, the defendants made a post-trial motion to reinstate the verdict. The trial court denied the motion, but the appellate court granted the motion and reinstated the verdict. The plaintiffs then made a post-trial motion to set aside the verdict in the interest of justice. The trial court denied the motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

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Facial paralysis is a serious type of birth injury that prevents the muscles in the face from moving. If you believe your child suffered facial paralysis due to medical malpractice, we can help. By choosing DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, you are selecting seasoned Syracuse birth injury attorneys who will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can rest assured that we will use our knowledge and resources to vigorously advocate for your rights throughout the legal process.

Facial paralysis, also known as Bell’s palsy, is a type of paralysis that results in an inability to control the facial muscles n the affected side. The condition is characterized by the swelling of the facial nerve, which then causes a droopy appearance around the eye and the mouth on the side of the face that was affected. The condition can range from mild to severe.

Studies show that per 1,000 births, newborns have facial paralysis in between 0.9 and 2.1 of them. Out of those who do not have the condition at birth, almost nine out of 10 are associated with a difficult labor. Specifically, during the delivery period, an infant’s face may have too much pressure on it, resulting in damaged nerves.

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If your child has suffered a birth injury caused by Pitocin, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm. We understand that no amount of money can undo the harm and stress you have suffered, but it can help you focus on your child without having to worry about medical bills that may be piling up. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our experienced Syracuse birth injury attorneys can analyze the facts of your case and determine whether malpractice took place.

By the time you are near the end of your pregnancy, you may be uncomfortable and ready to deliver your baby. In some cases, your doctor may suggest using Pitocin – a drug that is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which helps induce labor. Although it can be safely used, using Pitocin is not without its risks. Since every pregnancy is unique, a health care provider must continually monitor and adjust the dosage of Pitocin. If the contractions are too weak or not frequent enough, the baby will not be delivered. If the contractions are too strong, the baby or mother may suffer injuries. Administering Pitocin in the wrong amount or at the wrong time can have serious consequences for the child. Pitocin birth injuries may include but are not limited to:

  • Placental abruption;
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Injuries to infants are common. Some injuries are results of unpreventable incidents. However, other injuries occur because of the negligence of medical professionals. Physicians are tasked with performing medical actions that can prevent these types of injuries from occurring. A birth injury case, case number 17-cv-06133, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, has implications for New York birth injury claims.

The plaintiff went into labor and was admitted to a medical center, where the medical staff determined that the child was in a breech position. The plaintiff, however, alleged that the doctor did not perform an ultrasound to confirm this guess, and the failure to order an ultrasound was a substantial factor in causing the newborn baby’s death, according to the plaintiff’s complaint. The doctors medically induced the plaintiff’s labor, and the plaintiff’s obstetrician delivered the baby. The obstetrician was unable to determine the baby’s orientation in the birth canal. Therefore, he delivered the plaintiff’s child in a breech position. The defendant doctor made at least five failed attempts at intubation while the baby’s heart rate fell and attempted resuscitation for a half-hour before the baby was pronounced dead, due to respiratory failure.

The United States government was named as a defendant in the lawsuit because the doctor named as a defendant was a Public Health Service doctor. The United State government is seeking indemnification from the defendant doctor for any liability that attaches from the underlying medical malpractice claim. The United States government alleged that the defendant doctor had a duty to exercise the degree of skill and care that is required of health care, medical, and nursing professionals under similar circumstances in making all diagnoses, examinations, tests, and treatments, and not to abandon the plaintiff in any way.

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Unfortunately, brachial plexus birth palsy, Erb’s palsy, and other conditions arising from nerve damage continue to affect children in New York. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, brachial plexus birth palsy is usually a condition that results from injury to newborns caused by those who deliver or assist in delivery when the nerves connected to a baby’s fingers, arm, hand or neck are stretched. Less than one percent of newborns develop brachial plexus palsy. The seriousness of a condition is usually diagnosed by a pediatrician through an examination of weakness in a baby’s arm. 

The most severe type of nerve damage, known as avulsion, occurs when a nerve is ruptured and separated or torn away from the spinal cord. This type of damage may be permanent. Other forms of nerve damage, also caused by stretching and strain on the neck or head during delivery, may result. If the injury is severe enough to cause scar tissue to form and affect healthy nerves, the damage caused may be permanent. If the upper nerves are damaged but not the lower nerves, the condition is known as Erb’s palsy. Usually these injuries occur during a difficult delivery.

Several symptoms may be present when there has been brachial plexus nerve damage, as noted by John Hopkins Medicine. Avulsion results in “a burning, crushing type of pain.” Other symptoms include paralysis, other pain, weakness and numbness or loss of feeling.

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Having a baby is supposed to be a joyous time, but for some New York parents, this wonderful time turns into sadness because of a birth injury. According to HealthcareBusinessTech.com, around 30 percent of birth injuries are preventable. Prevention starts with good care plans developed by caregivers.

A group of hospitals came together to start using something called the Premier Perinatal Safety Initiative. Under this initiative, the focus was placed on increasing team communication between all the caregivers working with a pregnant mother. In addition, each team worked using a care bundle, which included a set of four directives. These directives outlined specific things each team must do during the care of the mother. These could be things like performing certain exams before administering medications known to cause complications or carefully assessing the baby’s weight.

Among the hospitals that participated in the initiative, saw a reduction in birth traumas of 22 percent with a 15 percent decrease in injuries to mothers. Claims for injuries went down by 39 percent in a four-year period, too.

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