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Birth Trauma Medical Malpractice cases are those cases in which a newborn child was injured during the pregnancy, labor and delivery or the newborn period.
There are a number of ways in which a fetus or a newborn can be injured by medical malpractice. The first is malpractice during the pregnancy. Perhaps the physician failed to test the mother for Group B Strep. and that very dangerous bacteria later injured the baby, usually during birth. Another failure to manage the pregnancy is not monitoring the fetal well-being with ultrasounds which can diagnose the growth of the baby. There can be an improper treatment of urinary tract infection which can lead to premature birth. The failure to note intrauterine growth retardation might result in a departure of failure to deliver the child at or about 32 – 36 weeks instead of full term. This failure can result in stillbirth or morbidity of a fetus that was not being properly nourished.
Most of the cases for labor and delivery departures fall into one of two categories; the first and most common and serious is that the fetus suffers a hypoxic ischemic insult during labor and delivery. This can result from a cord compression or utero-placental insufficiency but it generally can be noted by close observation of the fetal heart monitoring strips and when it is not so noted and there is an indication that the child should be delivered earlier, the failure to do so is the departure which can cause devastating life-long injuries.
Another birth trauma injury occurs when there is a shoulder dystocia. The shoulder gets caught under the symphysis pubis in the mother’s pelvis and this results in a “turtle retraction” in which the baby’s head comes further down the birth canal but then sucks back up when the contraction is over. This can be handled by various maneuvers, the most common of which is the woods-screw maneuver which is designed to relieve the impaction of the shoulder. The most common injury occurs when the head is pulled on in an attempt to deliver the child in such a way that it stretches or tears the brachial plexus nerve and the child can end up with a life-long injury of inability to move the arm of the impacted shoulder.
Injuries which occur in the neonatal nursery are often considered Birth Trauma cases. Very often the child has a problem adjusting to living outside the womb. This usually involves the inability to exchange gases which must now be done by breathing. There are other deficiencies which can occur; hypoglycemia can cause devastating injury and must be monitored carefully and treated promptly. The newborn child must be observed closely for signs and symptoms of any newborn injury.
*N.Y. verdicts are not discounted to present value and are subject to reduction on appeal
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