Your doctor or midwife and the hospital staff are responsible for providing you with excellent care during your pregnancy and delivery and in the days immediately after your child is born. The best assurance that your baby will be born healthy is having competent medical care at this important time.
Unfortunately, not all health care professionals consistently deliver the highest standard of care, and in too many cases, medical negligence at birth results in brain damage for a baby.
Not all brain damage is caused by medical malpractice, for example if it is from a hereditary condition or genetic abnormality. Nevertheless, medical errors do cause brain damage in newborns. Failing to detect a potential problem, such as the baby’s head being too large for the mother’s pelvis, gestational diabetes, maternal hypertension, or herpes infection are omissions prior to the birth that would constitute medical malpractice. During labor, failing to adequately monitor the baby, failing to deliver the baby within a reasonable time after membranes have ruptured, improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction, or failure or delay in performing a C-section when the baby exhibits signs of distress are medical failures that can cause brain damage.
Types of brain damage
The most common types of brain damage that arise from conditions at or soon after birth are cerebral palsy, kernicterus, and herpes infection.
Cerebral Palsy: The best-known form of brain damage is cerebral palsy, a movement disorder. It has been estimated that two in every 1000 babies are born with cerebral palsy. Lack of oxygen to the brain during birth is a common cause.
Kernicterus: Kernicterus is a kind of brain damage that is caused by elevated levels of bilirubin. It is not uncommon for babies to have slightly elevated bilirubin, a waste product formed from unneeded red blood cells, due to the immaturity of the newborn’s liver. Elevated bilirubin causes the baby to be slightly jaundiced, with a yellow tint to the skin and whites of the eyes. The condition must be carefully monitored with regular bilirubin counts to make sure it remains within an acceptable range. Babies with elevated bilirubin are usually placed under a blue light that helps clear the toxin. If the count goes too high, blood transfusions may be needed to prevent brain damage.
Other signs of kernicterus are
- High-pitched cry,
- Arching the back
Kernicterus can be treated and brain damage prevented with careful monitoring and prompt response to lab reports indicating rising bilirubin levels. If kernicterus is left untreated, it could be grounds for a malpractice lawsuit.
Congenital herpes encephalitis: If the mother has an active herpes infection and delivers vaginally the baby will get it. Often it spreads to the brain and may cause brain damage. This can be avoided by testing all pregnant women for herpes and delivering babies by C-section. Failure to diagnose the infection and perform a Caesarian might be grounds for a malpractice claim.
Phoenix, Arizona, birth injury lawyers Wattel and York have the experience, knowledge, and passion to help babies and their families when a medical professional or hospital has failed in its duty to prevent these injuries. These children will require a lifetime of care and special services, and we are prepared to fight to get them what they need.
If your child has suffered brain damage and you suspect that medical malpractice is the cause, call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. It costs you nothing to hire us, and you will owe nothing unless we win money for your child.