Obstetrical malpractice can occur in many settings: clinics, emergency rooms, operating rooms, and labor and delivery suites. Failure to perform proper neonatal tests, monitor a pregnancy or properly manage labor and delivery can result in serious injuries such as Cerebral Palsy, Erbs Palsy, developmental delays, blindness, infection or even death – to the mother and infant. Following well defined safety patient rules eliminates the needless endangerment of patients.

A recent study from Cornell University Medical Center reported the best way to reduce obstetrical malpractice was to institute a comprehensive and ongoing patient safety program. The program included simple and cost effective measures such as electronic medical record charting. Another preventive measure was having a dedicated gynecologist on call, so that obstetricians would not be pulled from the labor and delivery floor to consult on gynecology cases. The study also mentioned having standardized pitocin protocols, premixed and safety color-coded labeled magnesium sulfate and oxytocin solutions, electronic fetal heart monitor interpretation certification, obstetric emergency drills, and other protocols.

Those hospitals that implemented such programs saw a dramatic reduction in obstetrical malpractice claims. Unfortunately, too many hospitals have failed to do so.

American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Volume 204, Issue 2, Pages 97–105, February 2011

Types of Birth Injuries

  • Brachial Plexus Injury (Erb’s Palsy / Klumpke’s Palsy)
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Brain damage from Oxygen Deprivation
  • Brain damage from Reduced Blood Flow
  • Developmental Delay
  • Wrongful Death of the Mother
  • Wrongful Death of Fetus or Child
  • Shoulder Dystocia
  • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Folic Acid Disorder
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
  • Holoprosencephaly
  • Mental Retardation / Intellectual Disability
  • Wrongful Birth Lawsuits
  • Wrongful Life Lawsuits

Cerebral Palsy
Few events are as tragic or life-altering as having a child who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. These parents have to face the grief of watching their young son or daughter struggle to perform the simplest of tasks, like grabbing a toy or forming words. They also face the huge financial responsibility of providing their child with the many available therapies and treatments that will maximize the quality of their child’s life when diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is neither a birth defect nor a disease. Rather, it is a neurological disorder caused by trauma or injury to the brain – before, during, or shortly after birth. Often the child develops normally at first, but begins to show developmental delays during the first years of life, such as inability to turn over, to reach for objects or to produce words. Typically the effects of cerebral palsy manifest as a lack of muscle coordination of the legs or arms, exaggerated or spastic movements, such as leg dragging, and poor muscle tone. Cerebral palsy can also cause mental and cognitive disability, seizures, and problems with sight, hearing and/or speech, and even loss of bowel or bladder control.

Many cases of cerebral palsy are the result of safety rule violations which could have been completely avoided had the obstetrician or pediatrician acted in accordance with good and accepted medical practices. Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain prior to or during delivery, is a well-understood cause of cerebral palsy, and occurs when the signs of fetal distress are ignored or not properly attended to. The umbilical cord might be wrapped around the fetus’ neck, the fetus may be left in the birth canal too long, or the large size of the fetus might require prompt delivery by C-section. Other safety rule violations that can result in cerebral palsy include failing to properly treat the pregnant mother for toxemia, diabetes or other conditions that can have disastrous consequences for the unborn child. Medical safety rule violations during early childhood, such as the failure to diagnose and treat childhood seizures, meningitis, or encephalitis, are also known causes of cerebral palsy.

While cerebral palsy is an incurable condition, the good news is that there are numerous interventions and treatments available to manage even profound disabilities and cerebral palsy effects that aid in promoting a good quality of life. Speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and psychological assistance are just some of the available interventions, as are medications to alleviate symptoms of muscle rigidity. Surgery is another viable option to stabilize limbs, release tight muscles, and repair anatomical alignment. There are also mechanical and computerized devices, including braces, wheelchairs, voice synthesizers and other communication aids that can provide for a more normal and enjoyable quality of life.

Proper therapeutic intervention and treatment can be financially devastating for families of brain-damaged children. And, since the effects of cerebral palsy do not shorten a child’s life span, parents must be concerned with providing future financial security for their disabled adult child, after the parents are no longer able to do so.

At Culmo Trial Attorneys we have decades of experience investigating and proving claims of hospital malpractice. If you, a loved one, or someone you know has been injured due to hospital malpractice, please complete the form below to request a consultation.

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