Brain Injuries Sustained During Birth
Brain injuries that occur during labor and delivery often result from hypoxia, a decrease in the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the baby’s brain. There are several circumstances that can cause severe oxygen deprivation resulting in some cases of cerebral palsy and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. For example, the umbilical cord might become intertwined around the fetus’ neck, restricting the flow of oxygen to the baby’s brain. If obstetricians and nurses do not detect umbilical entanglement and take steps to address the situation, such as administering labor-inducing drugs or performing an emergency C-section, the delay in delivery can exacerbate hypoxia, a lack of oxygen, and result in anoxia, the absence of oxygen, thereby worsening the extent of brain damage.
Oxygen deprivation can also arise from complications due to shoulder dystocia, a condition sometimes observed in babies situated in a breech position inside the womb. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby’s passage through the birth canal is impeded because the infant’s shoulder gets caught on the mother’s pubic bone. An obstetrician can perform maneuvers to dislodge the stuck shoulder, such as flexing the mother’s legs closer to her abdomen and turning the baby’s shoulders. However, failure to employ these techniques, or failure to execute these manipulations in a timely fashion, can prolong the amount of time the baby remains in the womb. This delay in labor and delivery may result in brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. A physician who does not immediately induce labor or order an emergency C-section when the baby is displaying symptoms of oxygen deficiency can be held liable in a medical malpractice claim.
Other brain injuries caused during labor and delivery that may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit result from iatrogenic trauma to the baby’s head. For example, a physician might attempt to expedite the delivery by using obstetric instruments. The improper application of tools such as vacuum extractors and forceps might inflict harm by causing brain hemorrhaging, or bleeding.
Not all brain injuries occurring at birth are detected immediately after an infant’s delivery, but signs may become more apparent as the child grows. Cognitive and motor deficits, difficulty with speech production, developmental delays and visual or auditory problems might indicate that the child has sustained a brain injury, although these symptoms may also be attributed to other causes. The law firm of O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble has significant experience handling cases involving brain injuries resulting from perinatal negligent care. If you suspect that your loved one sustained a brain injury due to an error committed during labor and delivery, you may be entitled to receive a just settlement. The firm’s experienced team of attorneys will analyze medical records with the assistance of expert medical professionals to determine if a hospital, physician or nurse violated standards of care and committed an error resulting in irreversible brain damage.