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Rockford birth injury attorneysEvery parent hopes for a problem-free pregnancy and birth. Sadly, this is not always the case. Doctors are trained not only to treat medical conditions, but they are also trained to recognize the risk factors for medical complications that can harm a mother or baby. Many birth injuries are caused by pre-existing medical issues. When a doctor or other medical professional fails to properly diagnose a medical problem, the mother or the baby can suffer dire consequences.

Failure to Diagnose Maternal Infection

The first step in preventing complications during a child’s birth is ensuring that the mother receives proper healthcare during pregnancy. Diagnostic errors during a mother’s pregnancy, labor, or delivery can lead to birth injuries and even fetal death. Failure to diagnose maternal infections is an especially dangerous mistake. Rubella, hepatitis B, syphilis, chickenpox, and toxoplasmosis can cause serious or even deadly injuries to an unborn child. A mother with an undiagnosed infection may give birth to a child who suffers hearing and vision problems, intellectual disabilities, and other problems for the rest of his or her life. Sadly, many infants who suffer birth injuries due to undiagnosed maternal infections do not survive. Early detection is often key to preventing severe complications from infections. Many maternal infections can be mitigated through vaccines, antibiotic medications, and other medical interventions.

Failure to Diagnose Risk Factors Such as Preeclampsia

There are known risk factors that greatly increase the chances of complications during a child’s birth. Doctors who are aware of these risk factors can take the appropriate medical actions to prevent or reduce the harm caused by these risk factors. Preeclampsia, or abnormally high blood pressure and urine proteins, occurs in about eight percent of pregnancies. Preeclampsia can cause placental abruption, placental insufficiency, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, and other serious complications during birth. In many cases, a mother suffering from preeclampsia will need an emergency C-section. When doctors neglect to properly monitor a mother or a fetus before and during birth they are not prepared for the complications that may arise. This can lead to delayed treatment and other forms of medical negligence.

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Rockford birth injury lawyersAs any soon-to-be parent can tell you, expecting a new baby is exciting as well as nerve-racking. Every parent hopes that pregnancy, labor, and delivery will go smoothly and that their baby will be born happy and healthy. Unfortunately, some babies suffer birth injuries that cause medical complications for weeks, months, or even years after the child’s birth. Some birth injuries result in permanent impairment or, sadly, infant death. One problem that can cause a range of different birth injuries is the misuse of assistive tools like vacuum extractors.

Vacuum-Assisted Delivery Carries Certain Risks

If labor is not progressing typically or there is an urgent need for a baby to be delivered, a doctor may use an assistive device to help guide the child through the birth canal. During vacuum extraction, a suction cup is placed on the infant’s head and used to gently pull the baby out of the mother’s body. This procedure may be life saving for some infants, but vacuum extraction is not without risks. Mothers may face genital tract tears and incontinence while an infant who was delivered by vacuum extraction may suffer from head wounds, skull fracture, or internal bleeding. Vacuum extraction is also associated with a higher risk of shoulder dystocia, a potentially life-threatening condition in which the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged on the mother’s pelvis. A doctor should only use vacuum extraction if it is necessary to protect the health of the mother or the baby.

Birth Injuries that May Be Caused by Vacuum Extraction

There are several types of birth injuries that may be caused by vacuum extraction. Using too much pressure on the baby’s head or incorrectly positioning the device can lead to preventable injuries. Birth injuries that may be the result of improper use of vacuum extraction include:

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Winnebago County medical malpractice lawyersGoing to the emergency room is rarely a pleasant experience. A person may go to the ER because they are having chest pain and are worried that the pain is the first sign of a heart attack. They may also visit the ER after having a severe allergic reaction. Abdominal pain, broken bones, lacerations, migraine headaches, fevers, and other medical concerns may also lead someone to visit the emergency room. Unfortunately, some ER patients go to the facility seeking answers and relief but end up being victims of harmful medical mistakes.

Emergency Room Errors Can Lead to Preventable Suffering and Death

Emergency room doctors, nurses, and other staff have the important task of evaluating patients’ symptoms and determining the necessary course of action. When an ER worker makes a mistake that leads to a patient’s injury or death, the medical worker or the medical facility may be liable for damages. Often, emergency room malpractice claims arise because of delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Consider the following example: A patient visits the emergency room because he or she is having severe abdominal pain. Staff assure him that his symptoms are caused by a simple case of indigestion when in actuality, the patient is suffering from appendicitis. The patient goes home and suffers a ruptured appendix. In a situation such as this, the emergency room staff’s failure to accurately diagnose appendicitis may lead to an emergency room malpractice claim.

Other examples of emergency room errors that could lead to medical malpractice claims include:

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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersHave you ever stopped to consider how often you use your arms? Most people use their arms to drive, eat, work, clean, and perform countless other tasks. When an injury causes someone to experience reduced functioning in one or both arms, this can have a major impact on his or her life. Erb’s palsy is a condition typically caused by difficulties during a child’s birth that results in partial or complete paralysis of the arm. Sometimes, surgery and other medical interventions can remedy the paralysis and loss of sensation. In other cases, an infant who suffers from Erb’s palsy is left with impaired functioning and disfigurement for the rest of his or her life.

How Does Erb’s Palsy Occur?

Erb’s palsy is typically caused by damage to a network of nerves in the neck and shoulders called the brachial plexus. In the majority of cases, the nerve damage is caused by a complication during birth called shoulder dystocia. When an infant suffers shoulder dystocia, one or both of the infant’s shoulder’s become stuck in the birth canal. There are four main categories of Erb’s palsy:

  • Neuropraxia: Neuropraxia occurs when the infant’s nerves are unnaturally pulled or stretched. The nerve damage does not typically cause long-term complications and may heal in as little as three months.
  • Neuroma: When the nerves are stretched so far that nerve fibers break, this damage may not be able to heal on its own.
  • Rupture: Extreme tension on the nerves can cause them to be torn in half. Nerve damage such as this typically requires surgery and can lead to severe impairment.
  • Avulsions: When the nerve is torn completely away from the spinal cord, the infant could suffer from difficulty breathing and long-term paralysis of several parts of the body.   

When is a Doctor Liable for an Infant Suffering from Erb’s Palsy?

If your baby suffers from Erb’s palsy, you may wonder if the birth injury could have been prevented. You may suspect that some type of medical mistake during the birth process is to blame for your child’s injury. Erb’s palsy can happen for a number of different reasons. Sometimes, failure to account for risk factors such as maternal obesity or diabetes, misuse of assistive tools like forceps or a vacuum, and other forms of medical negligence are the root cause of Erb’s palsy.

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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersThe birth of a child can bring on a range of intense emotions. On one hand, anticipating the arrival of a new child is exciting and joyous. On the other hand, thinking about the sheer number of things that could potentially go wrong during labor and delivery can be terrifying. If you or a family member recently gave birth and the baby suffered a birth injury caused by shoulder dystocia, you may be left with several questions. Is shoulder dystocia preventable? Was my child’s birth injury caused by a medical mistake? Do I have a medical malpractice claim? The answers to these questions depend on your unique circumstances, however, there are situations in which shoulder dystocia is the result of medical malpractice.

What Causes Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia occurs during vaginal delivery when the baby is lodged against the mother’s pelvis. Carrying twins or multiples, macrosomia, maternal diabetes, medications used to induce labor, and the use of assistive tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors may increase the chances of shoulder dystocia. One or both of the baby’s shoulders may pin the baby inside the birth canal and prevent the baby from being delivered normally. Often, doctors can adjust the baby’s position and guide him or her though the birth canal unharmed. However, shoulder dystocia can also lead to serious birth injuries or even fetal death. Postpartum hemorrhage, uterine rupture, damage to the baby’s brachial plexus nerves, fractures, and asphyxia may all be caused by shoulder dystocia. A baby who experiences shoulder dystocia may even develop cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, or other medical conditions that result in lifelong disabilities.

When is a Physician Responsible for Birth Injured Caused by Shoulder Dystocia?

If your baby suffered a birth injury because of shoulder dystocia, you may question if the injures could have been prevented or mitigated by higher quality medical care. The standard used to determine if a birth injury is the result of negligent medical care is the “medical standard of care.” This refers to the type of care that a reasonably proficient medical professional of the same training and expertise would have provided in similar circumstances.

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