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Articles Tagged with Birth Injuries

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.

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, 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.

It is commonly thought that in the case of a birth injury or medical malpractice claim, only the doctor can be held accountable. In actuality, the hospital, nurses, other medical staff and even the pharmaceutical companies can be held accountable.

When it comes to birth injuries, hospitals can be held responsible for their own negligence as a corporation or vicariously liable for the negligence of their medical staff or employees. A hospital is responsible for hiring staff with the proper credentials, education, training and verification and also of providing the appropriate training to its staff. If a hospital hires an employee without looking into the employee’s credentials, education and training then it can be held liable. This is also the case where the hospital knows that an employee is not competent but allows them to perform in the hospital.

Hospitals are required to have an appropriate number of staff and nurses at all times in case of emergencies. Hospitals can also be held accountable when their medical facilities fail to protect the baby or mother from harm or is the cause of harm. It can also be held liable if tests are not properly performed, if medical records were not properly organized, or if the hospital did not allow treatment to the patient on the basis of their religion, gender, race or their ability to pay.

It is widely known that a negligent doctor ultimately takes the fall in case of a birth injury attributed to medical malpractice. In actual sense, both the hospital management and nurses can be held accountable in case complications arise during the delivery process of a newborn child.

Since the hospital management is responsible for the hiring of new staff, it is in their best interests to adhere to strict regulations regarding verified credentials, training, verification and education of new and existing employees. The absence of such prudent requirements can inexplicably lead to medical malpractice with a birth injury the worst case scenario. To aggravate the situation, certain hospitals opt to hire unqualified workers, yet they can abruptly affect the hospital’s reputation sooner rather than later. Hospitals dedicated to effective service delivery should possess adequate staff, comprising of doctors, nurses and cleaners at all times to accommodate the regular influx of patients.

In the absence of such professionals, a hospital can be sued for endangering an infant or mother during critical emergency procedures. Incomplete tests can also throw a spanner in the works by piling more charges to the guilty party. As a victim, it is irrefutable that your physical and mental wellbeing might never be the same again. Whether it’s a serious injury such as a uterine rupture, a brain injury or even a stillbirth from an expectant woman, hoping for a full recovery might seem like a daunting task, to say the least. The substantial medical expenses will be catered for by compensation upon a conclusive inquiry. Medical misdiagnosis isn’t a far-fetched idea when a negligent doctor prescribes the wrong medication courtesy of poorly organized medical records.

Brachial palsy is a type of birth injury that occurs in the brachial plexus and occurs twice for every thousand births. The brachial plexus is a concentration of nerves that connect the arms and hands to the spinal cord. Brachial palsy or Erb’s palsy as it’s commonly referred to occurs when too much force is applied to the head and neck region while the baby is being delivered. This most often happens to large babies when medical personnel is overzealous with their use of suction equipment or gripping tools when delivering the baby.

When too much force is applied to the neck and shoulder region while pulling the baby out, the little body can’t handle it and nerves in the brachial plexus rupture thus causing nerve damage. This can cause serious long term damage ranging from loss of sensation in the hands to paralysis of the whole arm. An indicator of brachial palsy is that the baby will normally not move the affected arm and keep it tucked in beside the body.

Any injuries relating to brachial palsy or complications are generally a product of negligence on the part of the physician or medical personnel who delivered the baby. The negligence can come in various forms:

There are certain things it is generally best to steer clear of when it comes to a childbirth. One is a baby being born too far ahead of a due date. A premature birth (a birth that comes over three weeks earlier than the due date) can have a variety of risks associated with it.

This includes increased chances of the child developing harmful conditions in relation to the birth. A list of some of the complications babies can experience in connection to a premature birth can be found on our law firm’s page on preterm birth.

Sometimes, circumstances are such that medical professionals are powerless to prevent a birth from being premature. However, in other situations, there might be steps available to a doctor that could head off a potential premature birth, and help push the birth back to a time in which the baby is more developed and better able to handle the various things that go along with delivery.

Last time, we began looking at the topic of cerebral palsy, which is a fairly common birth injury. As we noted last time, it is important for parents who believe their child may have suffered a birth injury to take steps early on to have their child medically evaluated and to determine their options with regard to seeking compensation.

For various reasons, parents may be hesitant to seek out legal assistance with regard to a child with developmental issues. Parents who have a concern about their child’s current and future development owe it to themselves, though, to seek out an experienced advocate. As we said before, the earlier this is done, the sooner parents can begin benefiting from the compensation they are awarded. Waiting too long delays these benefits and could mean that parents lose the ability to seek such compensation. 

Each state has different rules when it comes to deadlines to file a lawsuit. The deadlines, known as statutes of limitation, vary according to the type of case. In New York, the statute of limitation for medical malpractice is 2 ½ years from the date the negligence occurred or from the end of continuous treatment. To pursue litigation against a negligent physician, therefore, parents must act rather quickly.

Birth injuries come in a variety of types, from those related to the brain, to the muscles or other physical injuries, to those related to infections, and injuries from the delivery itself. One common birth injury is cerebral palsy, which affects both the brain and the muscles. Primarily, cerebral palsy is a brain-related injury, but it does impact the way the brain communicates with muscle groups.

Cerebral palsy is not a condemnation to a life of unhappiness. Those who have the condition can adapt fairly well to circumstances and lead a relatively normal life. That being said, there are certainly challenges for those with cerebral palsy. The extent of these challenges depends, in part, on the severity of the condition. A recent article mentioned some of these challenges, and the importance of taking legal action to address these challenges early on. 

When parents begin to notice developmental issues related to cerebral palsy, speaking to a lawyer sooner is better than later to ensure that parents understand the extent of the injury and their options for seeking appropriate compensation. Parents who notice developmental issues can have a medical evaluation done to determine cause of the problems. Medical evaluation of an infant is based on the so-called Apgar test, which evaluates an infant’s appearance, pulse, grimace, activity and respiration.

We’ve been looking in recent posts at the issue of home birth, the risks involved, and midwife professional liability. One important point we need to make about this topic is that, while home birth may be inherently risky, particularly for certain women, those who do take the risk of having a home birth don’t assume all the risk in the eyes of the law. Licensed midwives are still bound by professional standards of care and must answer for their negligence when they harm a patient.

Not every error will rise to the level of malpractice, of course, but only errors which violated an established standard of care. The American College of Nurse Midwives has defined certain general standards which licensed midwives are bound to follow. For example, as we’ve been discussing, midwives are expected to be qualified practitioners, which implies licensing, training and education as required. The standards of care cover a number of other areas of practice.  

The following are some of the expectations included in the practice standards:

While there are children born every day across the state of New York, there’s nothing like expecting a child during the holiday season. Some might see it as an extra special holiday gift. It can be a wonderful experience as family members come in from all over the country, and the whole family awaits the arrival of a new member to the family.

While many families will head to the delivery room and come out with a healthy baby, that is unfortunately not always the case. Sometimes families end up having to stay in the hospital over an extended period of time in order to help a newborn recover from any injuries that occurred during the birthing process. Although that may be difficult for all involved, the family will hopefully be able to head home once the baby recovers.

Sadly, there are those families that will end up dealing with a tragic outcome. In some cases, either the baby does not make it or the mother passes away due to complications from the birth. Either situation can be extremely devastating, especially during the holidays.

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