Welcoming a new baby into the world should be nothing other than a joyous occasion for the family. All too often, however, problems arise during the birth. When things go wrong for you and your baby, there are legal avenues that you can pursue – such as birth injury lawsuits – to receive compensation for your injuries and losses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 3 babies born in the United States is delivered by C-section (cesarean section) compared to fewer than 1 in 5 of all births in the rest of the world. With so many C-sections taking place in the US, there is reasonable concern about the inherent risks and outcomes of this surgical procedure. On the other hand, problems can arise when a C-section is indicated but not performed.
Types of C-Section Injuries
When a baby is delivered via C-section, the baby is removed from the womb by an incision made in the wall of the mother’s abdomen and uterus. Sometimes C-sections are planned when high risk pregnancies are involved, while other times they are needed when emergency conditions arise.
Planned or not, a relatively high proportion of C-sections result in injuries to the baby. Because a C-section is a surgical procedure, it involves giving anesthesia to the mother. When anesthesia is given to the mother, it will also affect the baby. Anesthesia can cause disruption to the baby’s heart rate, breathing, reflexes, and muscles.
Many babies delivered by C-section suffer injuries such as:
- Skin lacerations – nicks, cuts, or tears, some of which may leave scars
- Cephalohematoma – pooling of blood between the skull and the skin as with a bruise
- Facial nerve palsy – paralysis in muscles of the face
- Brachial plexus injuries – involves nerves of the neck and shoulder
- Clavicular fractures – shoulder fractures
- Skull fractures
Skin lacerations are the most common injury, followed by cephalohematoma and clavicular fractures. In addition, babies born by C-section often have more respiratory issues than those born through vaginal delivery and are also at risk for infections.
Any injury to a newborn is going to be a source of distress to the mother, especially when it has long-term repercussions. Some of these injuries will heal with time, but others such as scarring and facial paralysis may not. It is for these types of injuries that birth injury lawsuits are more commom.
Risks of C-Sections to Mothers
There is quite a number of potential risks to the mother when a C-section is performed, beginning with the normal risks associated with anesthesia. Also included would be potential problems with blood clots, excessive bleeding and blood loss, infection and inflammation, and other types of common surgical injuries.
Blood transfusions are often required after C-sections because of the mother’s loss of blood. Infections can affect the uterus as well as the incision site and pelvic organs, causing serious complications after surgery. There can be problems if the bladder is lacerated during the C-section. Another major issue can be scar tissue in the form of adhesions that can cause symptoms for many years. In addition, a C-section can make future pregnancies and births much more difficult.
Delay/Failure to Perform a C-Section
While C-sections have many risks associated with them, there are times when a C-section is medically necessary. This can be due to prolonged labor, positioning of the baby within the womb, fetal distress, or fetal hypoxia (lack of oxygen), just to name a few.
In such cases, if an emergency C-section isn’t performed in a timely manner, there can be serious repercussions for both the mother and child – some of which can be fatal for the mother, the baby, or both. Mothers can suffer seizures, uterine rupture, and serious hemorrhaging. For the baby, risks are also serious: oxygen deprivation, brain damage, developmental delays, cerebral palsy, seizures, and other life-altering injuries.
Potential for Birth Injury LawsuitsA high-risk pregnancy can usually be identified well before the mother goes into labor. If a doctor failed to perform a C-section when medically necessary and you or your baby suffered injuries, you may be eligible for compensation if the injury would not have occurred had a C-section been performed. Likewise, you may also be eligible for compensation if you or your baby were injured during a C-section that was not performed correctly. Note that the doctor may be liable, as well as the nursing staff involved during the delivery, and even the hospital itself. These are cases where birth injury lawsuits are highly probable.
Compensation from winning a birth injury lawsuit would cover the costs of medical bills relating to the injuries and might also include pain and suffering, loss of future wages, cost of future medical treatment, and loss of quality of life. The goal of compensation is to make sure that your family has enough money to treat the child’s injuries and to give the child the best life possible in spite of the harm caused by the birth.
There are certain precautions that hospitals are required to take to ensure that births go smoothly. Hospitals are supposed to have the equipment and surgical tools accessible for an emergency C-section before labor begins. If a birth is considered high risk, the hospital must make sure that the delivery room is close to a C-section operating room. Another necessary precaution is the correct use of functioning fetal heart monitors that track potential danger of brain damage to the baby. Failure to take such precautions could result in birth injury lawsuits.
Birth Injury Lawyers in Media, PA
If you or a family member was the victim of an injury occurring during labor, contact the firm of Donaghue & Labrum today. We have over 25 years of experience in successfully litigating medical malpractice and birth injury lawsuits. Contact us today and let us fight for what you and your baby deserve!