Birth Injuries and Personal Injury Attorney Representing Clients in Somerset and Hunterdon, New Jersey
A “birth injury” is any type of harm to a baby just before, during, or shortly after the birthing process. This may include the deprivation of oxygen (birth asphyxia), traumatic injuries that can be traced to mechanical force as well as neonatal infections to name but a few. Needless to say, birth injuries can have tragic and lifelong impacts including permanent disabilities such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy, intellectual impairments, periventricular leukomalacia in addition to seizure disorders.
Both shockingly and sadly, according to US News the United States is the most dangerous place to give birth in the developed world, with over 50,000 mothers suffering severe injuries during childbirth. While according to Medscape about 8 of every 1000 children born in the U.S. will suffer some kind of birth injury. However, birth injuries and associated disabilities are often very preventable.
The prevention of birth injuries begins with health care professionals carefully monitoring the health of a mother and baby during pregnancy, the birthing process as well as during the neonatal period and promptly intervening if necessary. Failure to follow these standards of care is negligence. If this negligence results in a birth injury to the baby, or harm to the expectant mother, it enters the realm of medical malpractice.
Steps Healthcare professionals should take to prevent birth injuries in Hunterdon County
As stated, most birth injuries can be prevented if healthcare professionals follow the legal standards of care for both mothers and infants.
Here are some of the most important steps of birth injury prevention that doctors and hospitals should take:
Provide proper prenatal care
Prenatal tests, which are done to assess the health of both the mother and baby, should be ordered and examined by doctors. Prenatal testing provides critical information about maternal conditions such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and infections. These tests also help medical professionals recognize a wide variety of fetal issues ranging from intrauterine growth restriction (when the baby is not growing properly), suboptimal positions (e.g. breech), umbilical cord problems to many types of heart rate abnormalities. When complications are caught early and managed properly, it is often possible to avoid serious birth injuries. Moreover, it is important that doctors recognize factors that make a pregnancy high-risk in order for the mother to receive more extensive prenatal care and monitoring.
Detect and addressing signs of fetal distress
Throughout any pregnancy and during delivery, medical professionals should closely monitor the mother and baby for signs of fetal distress, which may indicate that the baby is being deprived of oxygen as well as other potential problems. Signs of fetal distress include:
- Decreased fetal movement
- Abnormal fetal heart rate
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abnormal volume of amniotic fluid
- Abnormal biophysical profile (BPP)
- Abnormal Doppler flow study
- Insufficient or excessive maternal weight gain
It is especially important to watch for signs of distress during delivery. Among other things, this means monitoring the fetal heart rate. This can be accomplished through an external or internal fetal monitor. For most pregnancies, it is often necessary to have continuous heart rate monitoring.
If possible, prevent premature birth, or minimize risks if it is inevitable
Infants born prematurely can often have underdeveloped organs, weak immune systems, and low birth weights. These factors may increase their susceptibility to birth injuries and subsequent neonatal brain damage/disabilities as well as infections.
Though doctors can often prevent premature birth, in some cases, it may be inevitable, or medically necessary such as if another pregnancy complication outweighs the risks associated with premature birth. In these cases, there are certain measures that can and should be taken to minimize the chance of harm.
Recognize when vaginal birth may be dangerous or impossible
Under certain circumstances, C-section deliveries are recommended or necessary. Among others, possible indications for C-section delivery include:
- Fetal distress
- Prolonged and arrested labor
- Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD)
- Placental abruption
- Placenta previa
- Uterine rupture
- Umbilical cord compression
- Maternal infection
In some cases, it may be advisable for a doctor to get the baby out using less invasive interventions first. However, this may increase the amount of time that a baby is exposed to risky conditions, thus the positives and negatives of such actions need to be weighed carefully.
Properly care for babies in the NICU
Babies who are born premature, have sustained birth injuries or have other health issues will typically spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). NICU babies are even more fragile than a normal newborn, so it is very important that they receive the best possible care.
Contact a Somerset and Hunterdon County Birth Injury Prevention Attorney Today
Attorney Brian J. Levine is a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Civil Trial Attorney. This is an accolade awarded to only 2% of the active lawyers in the state, and demonstrates his excellence in legal knowledge and courtroom litigation. We offer cost-free consultations for all medical malpractice cases including birth injuries in towns such as Somerville, Somersey, Flemington, Bridgewater and across Somerset and Hunterdon Counties.
We invite you to contact The Law Office of Brian J. Levine, today to schedule a free and confidential consultation regarding your medical malpractice or personal injury case at 908-524-0123, or e-mail us. Our law office is based in Somerville, New Jersey. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but our lawyers are available 24/7. Ask us about our contingency fees.