Bringing your child into the world should be one of the most joyous times of your family’s life. When the hope and excitement of pregnancy are turned upside down by a traumatic labor and delivery process, the help of a skilled New Jersey birth injury lawyer may become critically important.
At Eisbrouch Marsh, we want parents of children harmed by preventable birth injuries to know that there is hope. We have devoted our careers to providing unrivaled legal representation to the most vulnerable victims of medical negligence, and we stand ready to help your family navigate the process of securing not only the financial compensation you need, but also the justice you deserve.
Please call us today at 201-342-5545 for your free, no-obligation legal consultation.
Birth Injuries Commonly Sustained as a Result of Medical Negligence
While there are some birth injuries that are minor in nature, others prove to be much more catastrophic. They may require life-long medical care for your child:
- Cerebral Palsy
- C-Section Mistakes
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
- Shoulder Dystocia
- Brachial Plexus and Erb’s Palsy
- Bone fractures
There can be no doubt that every single birth injury causes parents and families a great deal of anguish and frustration, but not all such events give rise to an actionable medical malpractice lawsuit against the labor and delivery staff who attended the birth.
Liability can be found only when physicians and other healthcare providers deviate from the accepted standard of practice, or they fail to timely recognize conditions or circumstances likely to place the mother or child’s health in jeopardy during labor.
At Eisbrouch Marsh, we will help you determine if a birth injury lawsuit is the right course of action for your family. One of the best first conversations to have with your lawyer during your initial meeting involves the typical timeline of the medical malpractice lawsuit process, including the likely time commitment and possible outcomes. Understanding the benefits of the lawsuit process in light of the journey it takes to arrive at the end result may help you and your family make an informed decision over whether to file a claim.
Common Causes of Birth Injuries
Some of the more common acts and omissions by medical professionals that cause birth injuries include:
- Improper or ill-advised use of forceps to facilitate delivery
- Failure to monitor fetal heart rate
- Failure to identify signs of fetal distress
- Inaccurate prenatal assessments
- Overdosing of Pitocin or other medications
- Failure to detect problems with pelvic fit
- Poor timing of labor induction
- Failure to communicate with other attending professionals
- Failure to diagnose placental abruption or umbilical cord problems
- Delayed ordering of C-section
If you recall any of these circumstances occurring during labor and delivery, you may have an actionable birth injury claim.
Cerebral palsy caused by mistakes made during labor and delivery is sometimes called “acquired cerebral palsy,” since it is not a congenital birth defect. This type of birth injury may give rise to a subsequent cerebral palsy lawsuit if the neurological damage can be causally connected to the doctor’s mistake.
Common errors that lead to a cerebral palsy birth injury include:
- Failure to detect a maternal issue during the pregnancy, especially an infection in the mother
- Failure to address and correct fetal distress, including an obstructed or prolapsed umbilical cord
- Waiting too long to induce labor or failing to order a Caesarian section delivery when medically necessary
- Negligence in the use of vacuum extraction or forceps during delivery
There are several types of cerebral palsy that can present in a newborn or developing child. If your child has developed any of the following and the condition was caused by prenatal negligence, we may be able to help you pursue justice:
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form of this neurological disorder and is characterized by stiffness and difficulty moving about. This condition is also characterized by increased muscle tone.
- Athetoid or Dystonia Cerebral Palsy. This form of cerebral palsy makes up approximately 10 percent of reported cases. Athetoid causes involuntary movements in the hands, legs and arms whereas dystonia causes the trunk (torso) to present in a twisted, contorted nature.
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. This form of cerebral palsy causes the sufferer to endure difficulty with vision, depth perception and balance, often causing tremors.
If your child is suffering from cerebral palsy, regardless of the severity, you may be able to recover against the doctor, nurse, or hospital involved with your child’s delivery. At Eisbrouch Marsh, we understand the sensitive and emotional nature of this type of litigation and will work tirelessly to ensure your case is presented thoroughly and accurately.
C-sections (Cesarean sections) are intended to alleviate stress on the mother and child and provide a viable alternative to vaginal delivery. When the procedure goes as planned, the mother undergoes surgery for the removal of the infant through the abdomen and the result is a healthy mother and newborn child. When the procedure goes wrong, the baby can suffer serious injuries.
Some medical conditions may necessitate planning a C-section or undergoing an emergency C-section:
- Breech position: The fetus is not in a head-down position conducive to vaginal delivery.
- Decreased blood supply: If the placenta does not receive sufficient blood, the baby may have a small size.
- Maternal condition: Any medical condition of the mother, such as heart disease, that may make labor and delivery dangerous. Older maternal age and obesity can lend themselves to a riskier, more traumatic vaginal delivery.
- Maternal HIV infection: This may be transmitted to the baby via vaginal birth.
- Multiple pregnancy: Being pregnant with two or more babies that also show signs of potential problems, such as improper positioning, conjoined twins, or an overstretched uterus.
- Previous Cesarean sections: Many institutions feel that they do not want to allow physicians to try vaginal birth after a C-section because of the possible occurrence of rupture in the previous scar in the uterus.
- An increase in induction of labor: Induced labor raises the likelihood of a C-section.
- Fetal distress: Indications of fetal distress can spur a Caesarian delivery.
- Umbilical cord problems: These problems can reduce or eliminate blood supply to the fetus.
- Placenta abrupto: A condition in which the baby suffers from decreased oxygen supply and there is the potential for excessive bleeding.
- Prolonged labor: Sometimes, the progression of the labor becomes very slow or stops completely. This places undue stress on the fetus and can lead to severe complications.
As with any medical procedure, especially one that involves surgery, things can go wrong in a C-section. An emergency C-section can be performed too late in circumstances where the baby may be under distress, with the result that the baby dies or is left with permanent brain damage. Missing equipment and personnel can delay a C-section, resulting in brain damage or death to the child, or in mistakes made during the procedure that cause injury or trauma.
In the worst case scenarios when a C-section goes awry, the healthy baby you longed for can experience serious, even permanent birth injuries, due to negligence or malpractice on the part of the attending medical team.
If your baby has suffered birth injuries from a C-section, Eisbrouch Marsh can help you understand your legal options and move forward to pursue justice.
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition resulting from inadequate oxygen supply to the brain. As a birth injury, the condition is also called perinatal or intrapartum asphyxia, and occurs when an infant’s oxygen flow is compromised at some point just before, during, or just after childbirth.
Incidences of HIE can range from mild to severe. In some cases, there is little to no long term damage; unfortunately, death or severe injury can result. Although your child’s injury may have been an unavoidable tragedy, there is a strong possibility that it could have been averted if appropriate measures had been taken during childbirth.
Children who experience HIE-related birth injuries can require substantial medical interventions, intensive therapy, and significant accommodations throughout their life. Now is the time to make sure that your child gets the best medical care and treatment possible so that he or she can live to their fullest potential.
Many factors during labor can put an infant at risk for HIE, including:
- Lung dysfunctions or disruptions leading to low-levels of oxygen in the blood
- Heart problems
- Prolapsed umbilical cord or injury related to cord complications
- Pressure to infant’s cranium leading to disrupted flood flow or bleeding
- Injury resulting from size of infant relative to mother
- Placental abruption
- Uterine rupture
- Ruptured vasa previa
- Acute maternal hypotension
- Factors leading to fetal stroke, such as clotting abnormalities, blocked blood flow to placenta, maternal infection or blood pressure problems.
Medical professionals may suspect and test for HIE-related injuries if your infant displays the following:
- A birth marked by the complications listed above as risk factors
- Impaired motor function
- Delayed development
- Delayed growth
- Organ dysfunction (including of the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and blood)
These factors are not, in and of themselves, sufficient to indicate an HIE-related injury. A doctor who suspects injury will need to perform additional testing to diagnose the condition. The earlier the diagnosis occurs, the earlier and more successful interventions to treat the condition tend to be.
Shoulder dystocia happens when a baby’s head emerges from the birth canal but their shoulders become stuck. Such circumstances call for the delicate management of medical personnel who can make quick, wise decisions to deliver your baby safely. Usually, doctors and nurses will rely on several special maneuvers to help the baby pass through the canal. If these fail, then forceps, vacuum extraction or a C-section may be needed.
Often, time is of the essence in determining next steps, and sadly, mistakes can happen. In the absence of good management by competent medical professionals, shoulder dystocia can quickly turn ugly, leading to prolonged labor and serious and sometimes permanent injuries in newborns and mothers.
Complications in newborns due to mismanagement of shoulder dystocia can include:
- Birth trauma: causing respiratory problems that in turn can deprive the brain of oxygen, contributing to brain damage or even death
- Brachial plexus injuries: damage to the nerves resulting in paralysis, reduced motor control and/or feeling in the arms or hands, or even death
- Broken arm or collarbone
Brachial plexus injuries occur when the bundle of nerves connecting the spinal cord to the neck, shoulders, arms and hands becomes damaged. This type of birth injury ranges from mild to severe, and it occurs when a child’s shoulders get caught on the mother’s pubic bone during delivery (shoulder dystocia).
Erb’s palsy is a specific form of brachial plexus disorder that usually occurs as a result of a lesion at Erb’s point, where the fifth and sixth cranial nerves merge to create the upper point of the brachial plexus.
Symptoms of brachial plexus injury may include:
- Lack of movement in the arm or hand
- An arm flexed at the elbow, clutched against the body
- Decreased grip in one hand
- The lack of Moro reflex in one arm
A diagnosis can be made using EMG, nerve conduction, MRI and CT scan tests, as well as visual observation.
Typically, diagnosis and surgical intervention happen right away following diagnosis, although there are circumstances where delaying three or four months and allowing some spontaneous recovery may be advisable. Specialized surgeons are needed to perform complex brachial plexus surgeries.
Long-term physical therapy is then needed to strengthen the recovering muscles and maintain joint flexibility. Pain management may also be needed, depending on the type of injury. Fewer than 10 percent of babies born with Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus injuries have permanent injuries, but the ordeal can still traumatize the family and result in exorbitant medical bills.
At Eisbrouch Marsh, we understand that filing a lawsuit can never undo the damage that has been done, however, your family may find comfort in seeing the responsible parties held accountable for their actions. And the monetary compensation you receive can help your family afford the unexpected medical bills and being to recover.
Few life events are as traumatic as seeing a healthy baby injured during labor. While there are many types of birth traumas that can affect a newborn, broken bones are one of the most common.
Bone fractures are most commonly observed in cases of breech delivery, shoulder dystocia, and excessive birth weight. Broken bones can affect the skull, arm, leg, collarbone, wrist, hip, leg, ankle, foot, jaw, neck, shoulder, elbow, or back.
Some of the common bone fracture injuries we see include:
- Clavicular fracture: Sometimes these fractures are unavoidable and unpredictable in normal births. However, negligence could be a factor if the baby’s excessive birth weight was not monitored prior to birth, or if forceps were used in the delivery. Healing usually occurs within 7-10 days with proper treatment. Sometimes the spine, brachial plexus nerve or humerus are also damaged in births involving a fractured clavicle.
- Long bone fracture: Babies with femoral or humeral shaft fractures exhibit a loss of spontaneous arm or leg movement, as well as pain and swelling. Sometimes mothers and their OBGYNs report hearing a “snap” sound during delivery. Recovery generally takes two to four weeks, with up to 10 days of immobilization recommended.
- Epiphysial displacement fracture: Pain when the shoulder is moved and a limp arm is evidence of this kind of fracture, which occurs through layers of cartilage cells at the round end of a long bone (the epiphysis). Treatment involves immobilization for 8-10 days, but residual deformity is more common with this type of fracture.
Mistakes that lead to broken bones may include:
- Delay in ordering a C-section
- Failure to monitor birth weight
- Failure to respond to signs of fetal distress
- Failure to anticipate problems during delivery
- Failure to notice the baby is presenting in breech (feet first) position
- Aggressive delivery techniques, including the improper use of vacuums or forceps
- Wrong steps taken when the baby’s shoulders get caught on the mother’s pubic bone
- Cephalopelvic disproportion (where the mother’s shape and size are inadequate for vaginal birth)
Call Eisbrouch Marsh Today
With more than 30 years advocating for injured families, we have the experience and compassion you need in an attorney to handle your birth injury case. Call Eisbrouch Marsh today at 201-342-5545 for your free birth injury consultation. With offices in Hackensack, Newark, and New York, our lawyers welcome clients from Bergen County, Essex County and all nearby areas in New Jersey.