Minneapolis Birth Injury Lawyer
Giving birth was one of the most difficult experiences you have gone through, and you thought it would be one of the best. Unfortunately, your dream was shattered by a birth injury due to negligence. You are frightened for your baby’s future, confused by all of the medical terminology, and angry that the medical staff failed you. You need a compassionate and experienced team of attorneys working for justice for you and your baby.
Call a birth injury lawyer of TSR Injury Law at (612) TSR-TIME or submit our free consultation form. Our partners are aggressive with them, but gentle with you.
Causes of Birth Injuries
Some birth injuries are caused by unavoidable conditions that develop for you or the child. For example, large infants (weighing over 8 lbs, 13 oz) are more likely than average-sized infants to sustain birth injuries. Premature infants and mothers with certain conditions are also at risk.
Some birth injuries are avoidable. Too often there is negligence on the part of doctors, nurses, or other health care workers — unnecessary intervention, failure to efficiently react to an emergency, incorrect use of medical equipment, and medication error can create long-lasting or even permanent damage.
Types of Birth Injuries
The most severe birth injuries generally involve internal damage, such as injuries caused to nerves or the brain. However, external injuries are not a matter to be taken lightly. They can lead to a variety of health complications for newborn babies — and a good deal of stress and expense for the parents.
External birth injuries can easily occur when the medical workers assisting with a birth fail to handle the infant with appropriate caution. Some of the more common examples include:
- Scalp lacerations from forceps and vacuum extractions.
- Scalpel cuts can occur accidentally during a C-section or episiotomy.
- Bruising/abrasions can be caused by contact with the mother’s pelvic bone during an unusually prolonged or difficult birth.
The injuries generally require no more treatment than antibiotic ointment and bandages. However, they can lead to more serious conditions, including:
- Blood loss
Other types of birth injuries may include:
All bones, including the skull, have a tough covering called the periosteum. When the skull experiences sufficient force, blood vessels that nourish the periosteum can be torn. This causes a small pool of blood to form between the skull and the skin covering it. This is known as a cephalohematoma.
Causes and Consequences of Cephalohematoma
A cephalohematoma is almost always the result of a birth injury. It can happen any time the infant’s skull is placed under pressure during birth. The most common causes include:
- Difficult births
- The use of forceps during childbirth
- Vacuum extractions
This injury causes a small, soft lump to form on the baby’s head. It usually resolves on its own within a few weeks or months. However, there are certain complications associated with cephalohematoma, such as:
- An increased risk of jaundice within the first few days
- A cyst formed over a skull fracture, which can be confused with cephalohematoma
- Possible trauma to the brain beneath the cephalohematoma
If your child experiences health complications following this injury, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Cerebral palsy is caused by damaged connections between the cerebral cortex and the cerebellum. The cerebral cortex is the part of the forebrain that controls higher level functions such as abstract thought and language processing. The cerebellum controls balance and muscle coordination. In other words, people with this condition have an impaired ability to control their own movements and reflexes.
About 5% of cases of cerebral palsy are caused by birth injuries, with other cases being caused by injuries during pregnancy or after birth. Birth injuries that can cause or contribute to cerebral palsy include:
- Hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain)
- Premature birth
- Head trauma or brain hemorrhaging
- Severe jaundice
Erb's Palsy is also known as brachial plexus paralysis. Erb's Palsy is usually a birth injury, sometimes difficult to prevent; however, in some cases, it is caused by an avoidable mistake on the part of OB-GYN medical staff.
Avoidable factors that can contribute to Erb’s palsy include:
- Pulling an infant’s head to one side while the shoulder passes through the birth canal
- Excessively pulling on the shoulders during childbirth
- Incorrect handling of the infant, especially if it leads to a clavicle fracture
An epidural injection is a form of injection to the epidural space of the spine used to provide temporary or prolonged pain relief. Epidurals are often used to alleviate the pain felt by a herniated or bulging disk, spinal stenosis as well as during child birth.
While an epidural injection is supposed to numb the pain it can sometimes cause the opposite effect and make things much worse. If you have experienced pain, paralysis or a serious medical condition after an epidural injection, then you may be looking at a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Epidural Injection Side Effects
There are several epidural injection side effects to be aware of if you are having an injection. This includes:
- Temporary increase in pain
- Allergic reactions
- Infection at the injection site
- Hot flashes
- Bleeding if a blood vessel is damaged
- Bowel and bladed dysfunction
More serious health complications that may arise after an epidural injection include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Nerve damage
- Cardiac arrest
- Loss of consciousness
- Epidural injection risks
While considered safe, an epidural injection must be administered by an experienced and highly qualified health professional. The slightest negligence or carelessness can result in serious health complications. Health professional must practice the four P’s when administering any epidural injection – preparation, position, projection and puncture.
Epidural injections involve an epidural anesthetic which is administered through a needle into your spinal column. The needle will puncture your spinal column and rests in the epidural space just outside the sac that contains the spinal cord. The drugs are then dispensed into this epidural space, blocking the sensation of pain.
The symptoms of Erb's / brachial palsy may fade or they may eventually require medical intervention. The affected arm may present with one or more of the following symptoms:
- Loss of physical sensation
- Muscle weakness, difficulty of movement
- Stunted growth
- Temperature control difficulties
- Slowness in healing from wounds and infections
Children suffering from this condition may require surgery or some form of therapy. Even when these treatments are used, they are not always entirely successful. Some people live with the problems caused by Erb’s palsy for the rest of their lives.
Facial paralysis, also known as facial nerve palsy, is a birth injury that can result from misapplied pressure to an infant’s face immediately before or during birth. About 80% of cases of facial paralysis are idiopathic, meaning their cause is unknown. However, this condition can sometimes be traced back to certain complications during childbirth. Factors that can contribute to facial nerve damage include:
- Large infant size
- Use of medication to induce labor
- Long or especially difficult labor
- Use of forceps
- Use of epidural anesthesia
Some of these factors cannot be reasonably predicted or controlled by medical staff. Others, however, could be avoided if proper medical decisions are made. An experienced Minnesota Facial Nerve Palsy attorney can help you choose the best response to the situation.
Symptoms and Prognosis
Facial nerve damage mainly affects the muscles around the lips. In more serious cases, other parts of the face can be affected. Symptoms include:
- The mouth will not move the same way on both sides
- Droopy eyelid on the affected side
- There may not be any facial movement on the affected side in severe cases
Generally these symptoms resolve on their own over time. In more serious cases, the child may need some form of physical therapy or treatment. In a few rare cases, facial nerve palsy may be permanent.
Internal injuries are among the most serious that a person can suffer. This is especially true for newborn infants, whose skin, bones, and other tissues are more delicate than an adult’s. Although most OB-GYN workers are professionals who take extra care to protect babies during childbirth, serious injuries can still happen. Sometimes these injuries lead to lifelong complications for your baby.
Types of Internal Birth Injuries
Some of the dangerous internal injuries a child can suffer during birth include:
- Bone fractures: Infants’ clavicles are especially vulnerable to injury during childbirth. Common causes of broken clavicles include breech deliveries and other complications during labor. A broken clavicle can lead to the formation of blood clots, a cyst, or other problems.
- Intracranial hemorrhage: Bleeding within the brain, or between the brain and the skull, can be caused by excessive force to the head during childbirth. These injuries are rare, but the consequences are often severe; including seizures, respiratory problems, and heart problems.
- Abdominal bleeding: Damage to the internal organs is one of the most severe birth injuries an infant can suffer. The most common organ damage involves the liver, a condition also known as hepatic rupture. This can lead to jaundice and other medical emergencies.
One of the first rules of maintaining a hospital is to keep every room and piece of equipment sterile. This is especially true in maternity wards. Newborn infants are more vulnerable to serious illnesses than adults or even older babies. Every well-informed new mother is aware of this risk, and should be able to trust her hospital to provide an adequately clean environment.
Infections to Look Out For
Some of the most common and dangerous infections among newborns include:
- Group B Streptococcal Disease (GBS): Bacteria that can be spread from the mother to the child, or from one infant to another. Can cause pneumonia, septic blood, or meningitis.
- E. Coli: While harmless strains of this bacteria live in everyone, other strains can be deadly. An infant exposed to E. coli can develop severe diarrhea, fever, and even kidney failure.
- Listeriosis: A disease caused by bacteria that is primarily found in newborns and people with compromised immune systems. If left untreated, it can damage the nervous system, heart, and brain.
- Neonatal Sepsis: An invasive bacterial infection of the blood that premature babies are susceptible to because of their underdeveloped immune systems. If untreated can lead to death.
The early stages of almost any infection are similar in newborns: fever, listlessness, fussy, less vigorous sucking, and loss of appetite. If your infant begins showing these symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.
Consequences of Newborn Brain and Spinal Damage
The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system, the hub of all bodily function. Newborns are especially vulnerable to brain and nerve damage. Brain damage in newborns can be caused by infection, oxygen deprivation, or head trauma. Difficult labors, large infant size, and the use of extraction devices can all contribute to the risk of head trauma during birth. Infant brain damage can have tragic consequences, including:
- Mental retardation
- Hearing and/or vision loss
- Emotional or behavioral disorders
- Coma or death
Spinal injuries in newborns are more rare, but they can happen. Their primary cause is the infant being pulled too harshly or twisted during birth. Unfortunately, the majority of newborn spinal injuries occur at or near the neck level. Consequences of this kind of injury can include:
- Inability to breathe without a ventilator
- Impaired ability to regulate heart rate and/or body temperature
Living with any of these chronic conditions can be emotionally draining as well as financially overwhelming. This is why the law allows victims to file lawsuits to win fair compensation for expenses and suffering.
Who Is Responsible?
This is not always an easy question to answer. Some labors are difficult due to factors beyond the doctor's control — these cannot be blamed on anyone. In other cases, healthcare providers have made poor choices that caused injury to the baby. If your child’s injury falls into the latter category, a Minnesota External Birth Injury Lawyer can inform you of your legal rights.
Contact a Minneapolis Birth Injury Lawyer
TSR Injury Law attorneys are compassionate, supportive, and have years of experience with Minnesota birth injury cases. Call (612) TSR-TIME today or submit our contact form. We will fight for justice.