The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that about seven in every 1,000 children will suffer from a birth injury. These birth injuries are frequently caused by medical conditions that are left untreated or are the result of malpractice during the delivery. Parents go to Bronson and Borgess Hospital daily, expecting a safe delivery of a child. However, sometimes medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, or midwives make preventable mistakes before, during, and after a child’s delivery. Mistakes during birth can cause catastrophic injury to a baby. The injuries often require a lifetime of ongoing care and treatment.
A birth injury claim is a type of medical malpractice claim. In general, Michigan law says a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the medical error that caused the injury. The time-limit rule is called the statute of limitations. In cases involving a birth injury, or a minor under 8 is injured by medical malpractice, the 2-year statute of limitations starts on the child’s 8th birthday and expires on his or her 10th birthday.
After the birth of your child, there may be signs and symptoms of injury immediately apparent. Sometimes, the injury is less apparent and may take time to appear. Some common signs and symptoms of birth injury, immediately after delivery include:
Sometimes, a birth injury is not apparent right after the delivery of a child. In many cases, parents do not notice a child may have sustained an injury at birth until the child starts having developmental delays or missing milestones. Milestones include things like smiling, taking first steps, speaking, toileting, and many more. Below are milestones for particular ages of infants. If your child is not reaching milestones, it is important to talk to your doctor and reach out to an experienced Kalamazoo, Michigan birth injury attorney to see if an injury at birth is causing the developmental delay.
There are a number of reasons why a difficult birthing process can happen that can result in different birth injuries. In many instances, birth injuries, especially to the brain, are caused by mistakes made by medical professionals in the hospital during the delivery process. Common errors that cause birth injury include:
There are several common birth injuries that may occur during the birth process, as a result of negligence by a medical provider. Some common birth injuries in Kalamazoo, Michigan include:
Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral palsy is defined as a lack of motor skill development, muscle spasms, and weak muscles. Cerebral palsy can be caused by brain damage during the birthing process and can be the result of a lack of proper monitoring of the child’s mother: inadequate techniques used during the birthing process and improper monitoring of fetal distress during labor. A child with cerebral palsy frequently needs therapy for his or her entire life. Plus, he or she may suffer additional health problems, such as hearing and vision impairments, speech problems, and learning difficulties.
Brachial Plexus. This usually happens when there is damage to the nerves that supply the baby’s arms and hands (also known as “brachial plexus”). It’s frequently caused by problems when delivering the shoulders of the baby. This is also called “shoulder dystocia” and may result in the baby’s inability to rotate and flex its arms.
Erb’s Palsy. This is arm weakness and loss of motion that can happen in both infants and adults. Erb’s Palsy is typically the result of a physical injury during newborn delivery or by traumatic force downward on the upper arm and shoulder, damaging the brachial plexus.
Caput Succedaneum. This is a swelling in the baby’s scalp that happens when the baby needs vacuum extraction to assist with the delivery. The swelling often appears with discolored and bruised soft tissue. This condition usually will resolve itself without further treatment.
Bruising or Forceps Marks. Some babies may have signs of bruising on the face or head due to the trauma of passing through the birth canal and contact with the mother’s pelvic bones and tissues. If forceps are used in the delivery, it can leave temporary marks or bruises on the baby’s face and head. Likewise, babies delivered by vacuum extraction may suffer some scalp bruising or a scalp cut (laceration).
Cephalohematoma. This is an area of bleeding between the skull bone and its fibrous covering that frequently will appear a few hours after birth as a raised lump on the baby’s head. In time, the body reabsorbs the blood. Depending on the size, most cephalohematomas take a few weeks to a few months to completely disappear. If the area of bleeding is extensive, some babies may develop jaundice when red blood cells break down.
Facial Paralysis. Pressure on a baby’s face in labor or birth may injure the baby’s facial nerve. This may also happen if forceps are used for delivery. The injury is often apparent when the baby cries because there’s no movement on the injured side of the face, and that eye can’t be closed. If the nerve is only bruised, the paralysis usually improves in a few weeks. If the nerve was torn in delivery, surgery may be required.
Fractures. The fracture of the clavicle (collarbone) is the most common fracture during labor and delivery. The collarbone may break when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder or during a breech delivery. A baby with a fractured clavicle rarely moves the arm on the side of the break. However, healing will happen quickly, and new bone forms. There may be a firm lump on the collarbone clavicle in the first 10 days.
Subconjunctival Hemorrhage. This injury is a breakage of small blood vessels in the baby’s eyes, and one or both of the eyes may have a bright red band in the white of the eye. However, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is quite common and doesn’t cause eye damage. The redness in the baby’s eyes is typically absorbed in a week or so.
A birth injury claim in Michigan is typically brought on behalf of the child by one or both of the parents. The parents seek reimbursement for all harms and losses sustained as a result of the birth injury, including:
If you or someone you know has recently suffered an injury that may be medical negligence resulting in injury or death in childbirth, speak with an experienced and knowledgeable medical negligence attorney immediately to protect your interests or those of your loved one. At Buchanan Firm, your case will start with a free consultation. Our team knows both the law and medicine, and have birth injury medical professionals a phone or Zoom call away to determine if errors by medical personnel caused injury to your child. If we agree to work together, our experienced and dedicated team will get started right away. We will work tirelessly on your child’s case, at no additional cost. We are in it to win it for you.