What is a Catastrophic Birth?
Labor and childbirth rarely go exactly as parents hope when they’re making a birth plan. Laboring moms may ask for medication when they planned a drug-free birth, or a baby’s position or other circumstances may require a C-section when a woman planned a vaginal delivery. Fortunately, the majority of childbirths have a happy ending, but sadly, in some circumstances, labor, or delivery goes so badly that it ends in catastrophe rather than a happily-ever-after. When this occurs due to the negligence of a doctor or medical professional, parents are entitled to compensation for the tragedy.
What are Catastrophic Birth Injuries?
Approximately one in every 33 babies born in the United States suffer a birth injury. Fortunately, the majority of birth injuries are minor—such as forceps bruises—and they resolve quickly. Sadly, in rare circumstances, the results of birth injury are catastrophic for the infant. Examples of catastrophic injuries include:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Brachial Plexus Palsy
- Brain damage
- Paraplegia, quadriplegia, partial paralysis
- Vision or hearing loss
- Seizure disorders
- Neurocognitive disorders
- Vegetative state
- Infant death
Whether the injury is immediately apparent or discovered in the months following delivery, parents may file a birth injury lawsuit against the negligent medical professionals responsible for the catastrophic injury.
Early Signs of Birth Injuries
Depending on the circumstances and the type of injury, parents and the labor and delivery staff may immediately know that a catastrophic injury occurred or the full extent of the injury may not reveal itself until later. Some signs of a birth injury to look for during the minutes and hours after birth include:
- Bruises, abrasions, or swelling on an infant’s face or head
- Delayed first breath or requiring CPR or a breathing tube after delivery
- Limpness and loose arms
- Stiffness and/or seizures during the early hours after birth
If your newborn exhibits any of the above signs, alert a doctor immediately. Early treatment may minimize the damage from some types of birth injuries.
The Most Common Causes of Catastrophic Birth Injuries
The vast majority of birth injuries result from a natural birth complication. However, when a doctor doesn’t recognize the complication, fails to address it in a timely manner, or provides incorrect or inadequate treatment, the doctor or the hospital that employs the doctor may be held liable for the injuries. The most common birth events that result in a catastrophic birth injury include:
- Umbilical cord prolapse
- Uterine rupture
- Shoulder Dystocia, or baby trapped in the birth canal by a shoulder caught against the mother’s pelvic bone
- Macrosomia, or baby too large for the birth canal
- Chorioamnionitis: A dangerous infection now linked to cerebral palsy
If a doctor fails to properly diagnose and treat these and other complications in a timely manner the result may be a catastrophic injury to the child.
What Compensation Can I Get From a Catastrophic Birth Injury Lawsuit?
A medical professional owes a duty to provide the highest standards of care to a patient. If a doctor fails to treat the patient the way another reasonable medical professional would in the same circumstances, they’ve committed medical malpractice and are liable in a catastrophic birth injury lawsuit.
With the help of an Phoenix birth injury lawyer, a successful lawsuit can bring compensation for the following damages:
- Lifelong medical expenses
- Permanent disability expenses for home healthcare, special education, and other needs
- Lost income for cases in which parents must reduce hours, miss work days, or leave a job to care for a child with a disability
- Pain and suffering on the child’s part
- Mental anguish on the parent’s part
- Diminished life quality
While monetary compensation can’t undo a birth injury, it can help the parents access the best medical care so the baby can recover to the fullest extent possible or improve the quality of life for the child going forward.
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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.