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Five Common Birth Injuries Resulting from Medical Malpractice

Perhaps no other type of medical malpractice is more catastrophic than that associated with some type of birth injury. There are five types of birth injuries that most frequently arise as the result of medical malpractice:

  • Brain injuries
  • Clavicle fractures
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Growth plate fractures
  • Femur fractures

Brain Injuries

Brain injuries represent one of the more commonplace types of physical damages that arise from a birth-related incidence of medical malpractice. When an adult sustains a brain injury, it most often happens because of some type of traumatic event. That is not the case with a birth-related brain injury. In most cases, a birth-related brain injury is not the result of trauma but rather oxygen deprivation during the labor and delivery process. An example of birth-related oxygen deprivation occurs when the umbilical cord ends up wrapped around a baby’s neck.

Clavicle Fractures

Clavicle fractures, or fractures to the collarbone, occur during childbirth in one of two primary ways. First, a baby’s clavicle can fracture while the baby is passing through the birth canal. More commonly, a clavicle fracture can occur during childbirth when an instrument like forceps is used to assist with delivery. These types of fractures can also occur when a delivery vacuum is used during the childbirth process.

Erb’s Palsy

Another type of birth injury that can arise as the result of medical malpractice is damage to what is known as the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a cluster of nerves that travel from a person’s neck down the arm. The brachial plexus is located underneath the collarbone.

The brachial plexus can be injured during childbirth. This typical occurs when a baby’s head is pulled in one direction and an arm in the opposite way. The net result of this is the stretching of the brachial plexus.

This type of injury can result in weakness to a baby’s arm. In some cases, the weakness is transitory and resolves over time.

There are cases in which this type of birth injury results in what medically is known as Erb’s palsy. This is more significant injury which causes paralysis to an arm, a condition that can last for an extended period of time. With physical therapy, Erb’s palsy is treatable. The paralysis can ease over time.

Growth Plate Fractures

Growth plate fractures are another type of injury that occur during childbirth and can arise from medical malpractice. Growth plate fractures do happen with children as they “grow up.” With that said, they can also occur during the delivery process.

Growth plate fractures can occur as the result of the use of medical devices during delivery, including forceps and delivery vacuum. In some cases, growth plate fractures have the potential for negatively impacting a child’s physical development.

Femur Fractures

Finally, femur fractures represent yet another of the more common types of birth injuries that can arise from medical malpractice. Femur fractures usually do not have permanent or lasting results. With that said, they undoubtedly are painful and certainly impact the early days and weeks of a newborn child’s life.

Physician’s Duty of Reasonable Care

During the birth and delivery process, an attending OBG-YN owes a duty of reasonable case to the mother and baby being born. In basic terms, a duty of reasonable care means a physician must take those actions a similarly situated doctor would utilize in the generally same set of circumstances.

A doctor is not obliged to provide perfect care during the birth and delivery process. That idealized level of care is impossible.

Hence, the reason why a physician is called upon to exercise reasonable care during the childbirth process. A deviation from the standard of reasonable care places a physician at risk for a medical malpractice claim.

A child who has sustained birth injuries has important legal rights that must be protected. The starting point for protecting a child’s rights in a medical malpractice case is retaining experienced, tenacious legal counsel like a member of the legal team at The Doan Law Firm at (800) 349-0000..

A Doan Law Firm medical malpractice lawyer charges no fee for services unless we win for you. A medical malpractice attorney from our firm will schedule an initial consultation with you at no cost.

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