The birth of a child is usually a much-anticipated event mixed with anxiety for the parent, even when the pregnancy has been normal. However, avoidable complications can arise during delivery or even beforehand, either due to the doctor’s failure to assess a situation correctly or from prenatal care errors.
When a doctor has acted in a manner that puts the fetus’s health in danger it is often due to:
- Failure to recognize pregnancy disorders such as hypertension
- Improper assessment of the health of the fetus before birth
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Failure to perform a cesarean when necessary
An example of deficient prenatal care is when the mother has taken a prescription drug under the supervision of a healthcare professional or pharmacist that later causes injury to the baby.
The prevalence of preventable birth injuries
Out of every 1,000 infants born in the United States, six to eight are born with a birth injury. It is estimated that almost 50% of all birth injuries could be prevented with proper identification of potential risk factors to the infant. And sadly, it can be difficult to differentiate between a birth defect, which occurred during or before the mother’s pregnancy, and birth injuries, which were caused by procedures or actions that occurred during delivery.
Some birth injuries that can occur are:
- Brachial Plexus injury, which can be caused by improper use of forceps or vacuum extractions, but can also be caused by large infant size, breech or maternal obesity
- Cerebral Palsy, which can be due to infections or toxic exposure of the mother during pregnancy, but can also be caused by traumatic head injury, bleeding in the brain or a lack of oxygen during birth
- Chorioamnionitis, which is inflammation of the fetal membranes from a bacterial infection, which can be caused by a mother’s strep infection, urinary tract infection or bacterial vaginosis
- Erb’s Palsy, which is a type of brachial plexus disorder caused by physical trauma during delivery
Proving medical malpractice
In order to establish medical malpractice, the plaintiff must show that the actions of the medical professional fell below the accepted standard of medical care, which usually requires testimony of a medical expert. In malpractice lawsuits, it can be difficult to establish causation between the doctor’s actions and the injury.
For Oregon families, knowing where to turn for informed legal counsel in the Portland area can help them to make decisions on how to seek compensation when there is clear evidence of medical negligence in a birth injury.