Was my child’s birth injury preventable???
Many birth injuries are not only preventable, they are BOTH Predicable and Preventable!
For example, when a child suffers from Erb’s Palsy, that is almost always Predicable and Preventable.
Further, many diagnoses of Cerebral Palsy and Preventable as well.
Erb’s Palsy a/k/a Brachial Plexus Injury:
An Erb’s Palsy injury is an injury to the nerves coming out of a baby’s neck and upper spine.
There are 5 nerves that make up the Brachial Plexus complex of nerves: from C5 (in the neck) through C8 and to the next level, which is T1 (upper thoracic spine). These nerves can get injured or damaged in the delivery process if the doctor is not careful, or if the doctor panics.
The ability of a woman to deliver a child into this world is one of the miracles of the human body, and of life. Bringing a child into this world can be one of the most wonderful and fulfilling experiences someone can have. But it can also turn into a nightmare if the delivery is not handled correctly.
In order for the child to be delivered safely, the baby must be able to successfully pass through the birth canal. Sometimes when you have a big baby that is not so easy. With a large baby, sometimes there is a Passenger – Passageway problem. In other words the size of the passenger (the baby) is too large to fit through the dimensions of the passageway (the birth canal).
The medical term for this is Shoulder Dystocia. Shoulder Dystocia simply means difficulty in delivery due to the shoulders. This occurs when the shoulders are too large to fit through the birth canal and get stuck on the pelvic bone.
When this occurs there are a series of maneuvers which can be done to free the shoulder and successfully deliver the child. But it is absolutely critical for the doctor not to panic. All too often we see situations where the baby’s shoulder gets stuck on the Mother’s pelvic bone, the doctor panics and pulls on the head or neck to effect delivery, and the baby ends up with a permanent nerve injury to the nerves going from the cervical spine/neck into their arm.
How does this happen? If doctor pulls on the baby’s head or neck, or does anything which applies lateral traction to the head, there is a huge risk of tearing or stretching those nerves that make up the brachial plexus, especially in the arm/shoulder that is on the top because that is the one stuck on the pelvis bone. And unlike bones which can heal very quickly in children, if those nerves are torn or stretched badly they do not heal, and the child is left with a permanent nerve injury affecting their ability to move and use that arm.
Is this avoidable?
Yes! Permanent Erb’s Palsy injuries are both predictable and preventable. As long as the delivering physician correctly performs the appropriate maneuvers, or performs a C Section, permanent injury should never occur. Only if the doctor doesn’t perform the maneuvers correctly, or panics and pulls or twists on the baby’s head or neck, there will be a permanent nerve injury.
In many cases, cerebral palsy is preventable. In fact studies show that 20-25% of cerebral palsy cases could have been prevented, if the mom was monitored more closely and the baby delivered sooner.
Many cases of preventable cerebral palsy occur because the baby is deprived oxygen during the labor and delivery process. Babies rely upon the blood supply from their mother for oxygen. If you are without oxygen for a period of time, or receiving limited/insufficient oxygen for a period of time, that can result in brain damage and cerebral palsy.
Oxygen deprivation can be detected, and it can be stopped.
If the placenta starts to separate from the wall of the uterus, it won’t be able to deliver enough Oxygen to the baby. Similarly if the umbilical cord gets kinked, the same way a garden hose might get kinked, that can reduce the Oxygen delivered to the baby.
Critically, doctors can and should be able to detect any issues with the Oxygen delivery to the baby through proper Fetal Heart Monitoring. If the baby’s heart rate goes too low (decelerations) or too high (tachycardia) this can be a sign of fetal distress, a sign that the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen.
Contact an Experienced Brain Injury Attorney
If your loved one has been injured due to hosptal negligence, you should schedule a free consultation with the experienced attorneys at Bonina & Bonina, P.C. Call us at 1888-MEDLAW1 or contact us online for a free consultation. We have experience helping clients with hospital negligence cases, and we can explain your options and help you decide what actions you should take. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we come to work every day believing that there should be equal justice for all. Se Habla Espaňol. Home and hospital visits are available.