Kansas City Birth Injury Attorneys
Compassionate Help With Birth Injury Claims In Missouri
Giving birth is inherently a difficult process, and there are many things that can go wrong during it. Sometimes, babies are born with life-altering conditions that came about through no fault of healthcare providers. But when a doctor, nurse, or other caregiver caused a birth injury, parents should consult an attorney in order to help secure compensation.
However, it can be extremely difficult for new parents to recognize when the negligence of hospital staff has led to a birth injury. For that reason, it can be helpful for new parents to learn about some of the most common birth injuries that are caused by negligence.
If you suspect that your child incurred a birth injury as a result of medical malpractice, seek assistance from an experienced Kansas City medical malpractice lawyer. Norton & Norfleet, P.C., has been successfully representing birth injury victims and their families since 1952. Call our offices at (816) 454-5800 for a free case evaluation.
Common Birth Injuries
There are many ways medical negligence can cause a birth injury. Perhaps caregivers failed to recognize or respond to fetal distress, improperly used labor-inducing drugs, neglected to perform a timely C-section, or used too much force to extract the baby. Whatever the cause of a birth injury, the consequences can be devastating. The most common birth injuries include:
- Brain Damage: If the infant is deprived of oxygen for too long during the birthing process, widespread brain damage can result. It can range from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) to cerebral palsy. Even minor brain damage can have a huge impact on a child’s life. Links are being discovered between having a difficult birth and disorders such as ADHD and autism.
- Bone Fractures: Clavicle fractures are the most common, but skull fractures are much more dangerous. Swelling, bruising, bleeding, and infection are often secondary complications associated with fractures, and just as dangerous if not properly treated.
- Cerebral Palsy: This is a neurological condition (impairment) caused by damage to the motor skill center of the brain before or during birth. Cerebral palsy hinders body motion, muscle activity, and motor skills. It may or may not include cognitive impairment.
- Brachial Plexus Injury: The brachial plexus is a series of nerves that allow for motion and sense of touch in the shoulders, arms, and fingers. Brachial plexus injuries may occur when the baby’s neck is improperly maneuvered during delivery - that is, twisted or pulled too hard by the medical professional delivering the baby. Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy, partial paralyses of the arm, wrist, and hand, are forms of brachial plexus injury.
- Facial Paralysis: Usually caused by pressure to the infant’s seventh cranial nerve, facial paralysis is most often seen around the lips, though it can affect any part of the face. Sylvester Stallone is an example of this birth injury, as his doctor used two sets of forceps to deliver him, paralyzing his face permanently in the process.
In the worst-case scenarios, a medical error can result in stillbirth.
According to the latest National Healthcare Quality Report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in American hospitals, approximately 6.68 birth injuries occur per 1,000 live births. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, this rate is far too high, considering that many of these injuries could have been prevented.
Common Problems Related to Birth Injuries
- Placental Abruption: A rare but serious condition involving the placenta, an organ which develops during pregnancy within the uterus to deliver nourishment to the fetus. Abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall, thus rendering it unable to deliver the necessary oxygen and nourishment.
- Shoulder Dystocia: When the baby’s head is out but his shoulders gets stuck in the birth canal, it’s known as shoulder dystocia. (“Dystocia” means “difficult birth.”) During this complication, the baby is in danger of head injuries, brachial plexus injuries, broken or dislocated bones, and oxygen deprivation, which can lead to brain damage.
- Fetal Heart Problems: The normal fetal heart rate is between 120 and 160 beats per minute. A low heart rate may signify that the baby is being deprived of oxygen, while a higher rate suggests the heart is working too hard to maintain blood and oxygen circulation. The longer the labor goes, the more danger the baby is in from fetal distress (also known as fetal intolerance to labor).
These problems do not necessarily create birth injuries if treated properly (and quickly) by attending doctors and medical staff. However, these potentially harmful delivery errors can cause or contribute to lifelong damage to the baby:
- Not recognizing or reacting to signs of fetal heart problems
- Failing to perform a C-section in a timely manner or not performing a C-section at all
- Improper use of drugs, like Pitocin or Cytotec, for inducing labor
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Using excessive pressure when extracting a baby
- Improperly pulling the baby when lodged or stuck during delivery (excessive traction)
- Applying too much pressure to the mother’s abdomen during delivery (fundal pressure)
The Costs of a Birth Injury
The costs of raising a child suffering from a serious birth injury can be substantial. Ongoing treatment, necessary medical devices, added educational costs for a child afflicted with brain damage - new parents can find themselves struggling with all of these costs and more.
However, if your child was injured due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, you may be entitled to compensation that can help you meet the challenges of raising a child who suffered a birth injury. Healthcare providers - or, in many instances, their malpractice insurers - can be held financially accountable for the damages that resulted from their errors.
Time Limit for Taking Legal Action
Missouri’s statute of limitations states that civil actions against physicians, hospitals, dentists, etc., must be brought within two years of the incident. There are a couple of exceptions that will allow a victim additional time in which to file a medical malpractice claim, including when negligence is associated with a failure to inform a patient of test results.
In these cases, the two-year period begins when the patient discovers the error or omission. But the sooner you act, the sooner an investigation can take place into the actual cause of your child’s birth injury. Don’t delay; contact an experienced birth injury law firm as soon as possible!
Missouri Medical Malpractice Law Firm
If you suspect that your child was the victim of medical malpractice, you owe it to your entire family to pursue compensation that could help ease the financial and emotional burden created by a birth injury. Talk to an experienced birth injury attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options. Contact Norton & Norfleet, P.C., today at (816) 454-5800 to coordinate a free consultation.
- Uncovering the Causes of Birth Injuries
- Placental Abruption - Mayo Clinic
- Birth Injury - Merck Manual
- Cerebral Palsy - MedlinePlus