Birth Injuries: A Closer Look

| Jul 13, 2021 | Injuries, Medical Malpractice

Some people are very cool under pressure. In March of 2000, a mom in Oaxaca performed a C-section on herself. After Inés Ramírez Pérez had been in pain for about twelve hours, and almost immediately after she downed three shots of liquor, she used a kitchen knife to perform the incision and a pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cord. Both she and her baby survived. 

Unfortunately, most people, including most doctors, aren’t nearly as cool under pressure. SD (Shoulder Dystocia) is a good example. If a baby is too large to drift down a mom’s birth canal, the umbilical cord could cut off oxygen to the brain and cause cerebral palsy in less than five minutes. Some doctors resort to desperate measures in these situations. More on that below.

Cerebral palsy cases vary significantly. Some CP victims simply have underdeveloped motor skills. They cannot button their own shirts or brush their own teeth. In most cases, however, brain damage is much more extensive, and these victims are essentially prisoners in their own bodies.

So, almost all CP kids need help getting through life. Usually, the compensation a Lexington personal injury attorney obtains defrays these costs, so taxpayers don’t end up paying these bills through a Medicaid program. Perhaps more importantly, large damage awards force hospitals to change the way they treat patients and put safety first.

Physician Duty of Care

Most professionals, including doctors, have a fiduciary duty. That’s because patients, with the notable exception of people like Ms. Pérez, depend entirely on doctors for all their healthcare needs. Therefore, doctors must set aside all other concerns, especially things like making money, and focus exclusively on their patients’ well-being. 

Many doctors don’t live up to these high expectations. Instead of listening to their patients, they ignore them. And instead of running a full range of diagnostic tests, they go with their guts.

SD is a rather special case. The risk factors, such as an LGA (Large for Gestational Age) infant and a history of difficult births, are rather obvious. However, many doctors dismiss these warning signs as “borderline” risks. So, they don’t take appropriate precautions during prenatal visits or prepare for the worst in the delivery room. 

Once the aforementioned clock starts ticking, doctors feel the pressure. Like many of us, they make poor decisions in these situations. The big difference is that doctors have a fiduciary duty. So, pretty much any poor decision, especially a preventable one, constitutes negligence.

Birth Assistance Measures

In most cases, C-section delivery is a last resort. That makes sense, because in general, invasive surgery should never be the first solution to a medical problem. As the pressure builds in the delivery room, many doctors fall back on what they know, or what they think they know. Some hazardous birth interventions include:

  • Episiotomy: As late as the 1980s, doctors routinely cut the mother’s perineum (area between the anus and genitals) to widen her birth canal. Pretty much all doctors now agree that this procedure is unnecessary, ineffective, and dangerous. However, in some hospitals, the episiotomy rate is still above 40 percent.

  • Vacuum Extractor: If the baby’s head crowns but the baby cannot get out, many doctors attach a surgical vacuum to the infant and literally try to suck the baby out. Either a tight-fitting metal cap or the suction power of this vacuum could cause a head injury or other permanent internal injuries.

  • Forceps: Episiotomies date back to the 1920s. Forceps deliveries date back to the 1700s. They were risky then and they are risky now, mostly because this device, which resembles a pair of salad tongs, basically hasn’t changed since its introduction. A doctor tried to grab a baby and pull the baby out of the mother. These tiny infants are so fragile that any excessive force could cause a serious or fatal injury.

C-section surgeries have their own risks. Anesthesia is a good example. Things happen so quickly prior to a crash C-section that many anesthesiologists don’t adequately review patient histories. If these doctors administer too much medicine, not enough, or the wrong kind, the results could be tragic for both mother and baby.

The above damages are available if a victim/plaintiff proves negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.

 

Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available. #goodelawyers