Your child’s birth did not go as planned. Instead of the relief and sweet bonding experience you anticipated, you were in the middle of a medical emergency. You did not know if your child would live or die. Your newborn’s Apgar scores may have been low and her skin may have been gray or purple. She may have needed to be revived, and she was quickly taken to the NICU—where she may have been on a feeding tube or suffered from seizures.
Your family is in crisis and you need help.
The attorneys of Gray and White Law have successfully sued Louisville hospitals for birth injuries resulting from delayed deliveries, delayed C-sections, oxygen deprivation at birth, and other types of medical negligence. We wrote the book, Family First: How to Get the Help You Need After a Birth Injury to Your Child Happens in Kentucky, and we provide every family with the individual attention they deserve. Our experienced lawyers live in your community, but have a statewide, and nationwide, reputation for excellence. We can conduct thorough investigations, we can get you the answers you need, and we can help you make the best decisions possible during this difficult time.
Types of Birth Injuries
Some of the Kentucky children we represent have suffered birth injuries such as:
Brain damage can have an immediate and lifelong impact on your baby. The symptoms that your child will experience will depend on how badly the brain was damaged and what section of the brain was damaged. Common problems include gross motor delays, fine motor delays, speech and language difficulties, behavior problems, cognitive problems, seizures and other complications. Often, brain damage is caused by lack of oxygen during birth or by the use of forceps or a vacuum during the birthing process.
Cerebral palsy is the generic term for a number of disorders affecting a baby’s brain function and body movement. Cerebral palsy can be the result of an injury to a baby’s brain in the womb, during delivery, or after birth. It also can be caused by a lack of oxygen flow to a baby’s brain during delivery. Lack of adequate oxygen, also called asphyxia, can cause this condition. Currently, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. However, there are treatments available that can make things easier for people with cerebral palsy. These treatments can be costly but invaluable.
It can be terrifying to see your infant suffer a seizure. Seizures happen when the brain’s nerve cells are damaged and fire faster than normal. This can lead to your newborn experiencing involuntary movements and/or changes in consciousness or behavior. Your baby may suffer from seizures if he or she experiences a brain injury during labor or delivery. Often, this happens if the baby is deprived of oxygen because of a medical mistake made by the delivering doctor or medical team. Common examples of negligence that result in seizures include failure to diagnose or treat an infection in the mother, failure to take into account the size of a large baby during delivery, failure to provide proper prenatal care, failure to provide proper interventions during labor or delivery, and the failure to properly respond to bleeding.
Your baby may have suffered a broken bone during birth that has a significant impact not only on his immediate development but also on his future. A common reason for broken bones during birth is because a doctor failed to anticipate that the baby may be too big to fit through the mother’s birth canal. In these cases a C-section could prevent a broken bone that leads to shoulder dystocia or another serious injury.
One of the most terrifying emergencies following delivery is shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the head has been delivered, but the shoulder becomes stuck. It is diagnosed when the shoulders fail to deliver shortly after the fetal head, and it can be devastating.
One of the most common causes of shoulder dystocia is the use of vacuum extraction or forceps during delivery. It can also occur if the mother has gestational diabetes or had children previously born with shoulder dystocia.
There are serious complications associated with shoulder dystocia and one of the biggest concerns is damage to the brachial plexus nerves. These nerves are involved in the sensory and motor functions of the shoulder, arm and hands. If the nerve roots are torn from the neonatal spinal column, it could result in total dysfunction. Complications can arise with both the baby and mother. The mother is at risk of postpartum hemorrhaging, uterine rupture, and a significant episiotomy or tear. The child is at risk of suffering Erb’s palsy, a clavicle fracture, hypoxia, brain damage, a humerus fracture, cerebral palsy, or even death.
Your baby is at his most vulnerable when he is traveling through the birth canal. This is when many complications can arise, including asphyxiation from inadequate oxygen, umbilical cord entanglement, becoming caught on the pubic bone, or becoming poorly positioned, as in a breech delivery.
All doctors should know how to solve these complications to protect you and your baby. Whether they need to employ tools, move you or the baby, or turn to a cesarean section, they need to act carefully and swiftly.
If any of the following occurs, the delivery doctor can cause temporary or permanent paralysis to your baby: the improper use of forceps or vacuum delivery; excessive pulling force during a shoulder dystocia or breech delivery; improper Pitocin or epidural use; or delayed delivery or prolonged labor.
If you notice that your baby has trouble moving and supporting himself, or lacks normal facial expressions, he may be suffering from paralysis of the face or body.
Any of these birth injuries can require immediate and ongoing treatments; however, there may ultimately be no cure. Instead, you may focus on helping your child make the maximum medical improvement so she can gain as much independence as possible. After an initial stay in the NICU, your child might benefit from programs such as First Steps, Kids Center, special education, and other interventions.
Causes of Birth Injuries
Not every child who is born with a disability has suffered a birth injury. Instead, a birth injury is something that occurs when a Kentucky doctor, nurse, or hospital failed to exercise reasonable care and that failure to exercise reasonable care resulted in your child’s injury. Some common causes of birth injuries, that result in injuries such as those described above, include:
The improper use of forceps
Sometimes, when a delivery is not going as planned, doctors may decide that they need to assist in the delivery by pulling the baby out. One way to do this is with the use of forceps. If the baby became caught on your pubic bone or becomes stuck, for example, then the doctor may have needed to use the forceps to help ease him or her out. If too much force was applied to your baby’s fragile head, however, your child may be facing complications such as broken bones, skull fractures, eye injuries, brain injuries, facial paralysis, or nerve damage.
The improper use of vacuums
Similar to forceps use during childbirth, doctors turn to vacuum extraction when the mother is having a difficult time delivering. The childbirth vacuum extractor applies suction forces to the infant’s head to help pull the baby out of the birth canal. Doctors often employ a vacuum extractor’s assistance in order to speed up a complicated birth, but they may rush the process, panicking that the baby is being deprived of oxygen.
The infant’s head is especially vulnerable to damage without the protection of amniotic fluid, so the improper use of a vacuum extractor can cause eye injuries, skull fractures, and brain damage. If your child is experiencing complications following a Kentucky vacuum extraction injury due to your delivery doctor’s negligence, you could have a birth injury claim.
Delayed delivery or prolonged labor
Typically a prolonged labor is one that goes on for more than 24 hours after the mother’s water breaks. A prolonged labor or a delayed delivery after there is evidence of fetal distress can be devastating. It can result in perinatal asphyxia, a lack of oxygen for the baby. A doctor’s failure to monitor mother and child during labor, perform appropriate tests, detect fetal distress or umbilical cord problems, or perform an emergency C-section or instrument-assisted birth can result in a lack of oxygen that results in a child’s cerebral palsy, paralysis, brain damage, or other birth injury.
During a pregnancy or during the delivery process, emergency situations may arise which would require a Caesarean section. Emergency C-sections that are typically considered appropriate include when the child is too large to fit through the birth canal, the child is not presenting head first, there has been an umbilical cord prolapse, the position of the umbilical cord puts the child at risk, there is a problem with the placenta, there is a prolonged labor, the baby is exhibiting fetal distress, the baby’s heart rate slows, or there is another risk present.
Failing to act when a baby is in distress
When there is evidence of fetal distress, every second counts. Doctors, nurses, and hospital staff should be considering reasonable options to deliver the baby as quickly and safely as possible to prevent oxygen deprivation and a resulting brain injury or other birth injury.
If your baby suffered a brain bleed, a lack of oxygen, a broken bone, or another serious injury then it is important for you to know what to do next.
Filing Birth Injury Lawsuits
It can be hard to know if your child’s injury could have been prevented by the reasonable care of your doctors and nurses. However, if a medical professional such as a nurse or neurologist says that that your child’s injury has been caused by medical negligence, or if a CT scan or MRI shows that your baby was deprived of oxygen during labor or delivery, then you should find out more about your child’s rights and how to protect them.
An experienced birth injury lawyer can help you hold accountable the Louisville hospital or Kentucky doctor responsible for the harm your child has suffered. Through settlement negotiations or at trial, we will fight for your child’s full recovery so that he or she can get the medical treatment and necessary services, now and in the future.
You didn’t cause your child’s injury and neither did your child. You deserve to find out more about your next steps and about how to protect your child. To learn more, please contact the experienced birth injury attorneys at Gray and White Law at 888-450-4456. We would be pleased to discuss your case with you for free so that you can make an informed decision about what to do next.