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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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Illinois medical malpractice attorneysNo one expects doctors to be perfect, but they are held to a very high standard when it comes to patient care. Doctors or other medical professionals who make a mistake that leads to a patient's injury or death may face a medical malpractice claim. Whether you or a loved one were a victim of a birth injury, surgical mistake, or hospital error, you probably have questions about whether your situation constitutes medical malpractice. You may also be unsure of what it takes to bring a successful malpractice claim. Read on to learn about what actions may be considered medical malpractice and the main elements needed to win a medical malpractice claim.

Understanding When Malpractice Has Occurred

Few would argue against the idea that doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other medical workers have some of the hardest jobs in the world. Understandably, they sometimes make mistakes. Minor mistakes that do not result in significant patient harm are not examples of medical malpractice. However, when a medical professional makes an egregious mistake that the average medical worker would never make, and a patient is injured or killed as a result, that professional may face a civil claim for damages.

To prove medical malpractice, you and your lawyer will need to demonstrate that:

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Rockford birth injury attorneysA Cesarean section or c-section is a surgical procedure that removes an infant from the mother’s womb. Some c-sections are planned while others are last-minute and necessitated by an unexpected medical complication. If you underwent a planned or emergency c-section and you or your child were injured, you may wonder if the injury was caused by a medical mistake. You may also want to know if the doctor or hospital is liable for the harm caused. In some cases, maternal injuries or birth injuries related to a c-section are caused by medical malpractice.

Delayed C-Section and Failure to Perform a C-Section

Cesarean sections carry certain risks, so many doctors advise women to avoid having a c-section unless it is necessary to protect her health or the health of her unborn child. However, there are some situations in which a traditional vaginal birth is much riskier than delivering via c-section. A doctor may recommend a c-section if there are complications such as:

  • Abnormal progress during labor
  • Fetal distress
  • Placental abruption, placenta previa, or placental insufficiency
  • Uterine rupture
  • Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia
  • The baby is in breech position
  • Umbilical cord prolapse

An important part of any doctor’s job is to recognize the signs of medical complications and take the appropriate action. If a doctor fails to notice signs of fetal distress or other red flags that indicate that a c-section is necessary, the doctor c-section operation may be delayed or the doctor may continue with a traditional delivery. Delayed c-sections and failure to perform a necessary c-section can cause the baby to be deprived of oxygen. This may lead to severe birth injuries including hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy. In some cases, failure to perform a timely c-section results in the infant’s death.

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Rockford personal injury attorneysCerebral palsy (CP) is a complex medical condition that experts are still learning more and more about every day. The most common symptom of cerebral palsy is trouble with movement and coordination. Some sufferers also experience difficulty with swallowing, speaking, hearing, and vision. Cognitive impairment is present in approximately one third of sufferers. CP can cause a range of symptoms, from relatively mild to severely disabling. If your child has developed cerebral palsy, you may have questions about how and why your child developed this life-changing condition.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy occurs when part of the brain is damaged or develops abnormally. Congenital cerebral palsy is CP that a child is born with, while acquired cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage during the beginning of the child’s life. CP can be caused by brain damage that occurs before the child is born, during labor and delivery, or shortly after birth. Trauma, reduced blood flow to the child’s brain, or even infections like viral encephalitis may cause a child to develop CP. There is still much about cerebral palsy that is unknown.

Could My Child’s CP Have Been Prevented?

Parents of children with CP often wonder if there is anything that could have been done to prevent their child from developing CP. In some cases, there is nothing that doctors, surgeons, or other medical professionals could have done to stop the brain damage or brain abnormalities that lead to the child’s cerebral palsy. In other cases, cerebral palsy is a direct result of a medical error. Medical mistakes that most commonly lead to cerebral palsy include:

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Rockford medical malpractice lawyersAbout a third of all babies are delivered via cesarean section or “c-section.” In some cases, a mother chooses to have a c-section birth instead of a vaginal birth. Other times, an emergency c-section is needed to prevent the baby from suffering asphyxia or other harm. If you or your baby were injured and you suspect that medical negligence contributed to the injury, contact a medical malpractice attorney for help investigating the medical staff’s actions. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your damages.

Delayed C-Sections Put Babies Lives at Risk  

When a woman goes into labor, doctors and nurses must be vigilant for signs that labor is not progressing normally. Abnormalities with the infant’s heart rate is often the first sign that he or she is in distress. An emergency c-section may be needed if the baby’s head is too big to fit through the mother’s pelvis, placental abruption or uterine rupture occurs, there is a prolapsed umbilical cord, or there are other problems that make vaginal birth too risky.

If there are indications that an emergency c-section is the safer option, doctors must quickly make the decision to perform a c-section and begin the procedure. The time between the decision to deliver a baby via c-section and the actual delivery is called the “decision delivery interval” (DDI). If a medical professional waits too long to decide to perform a c-section or the DDI is too great, the infant can suffer severe, life-threatening medical complications.

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