Having a baby is a joyous event for Maryland parents, and one that gives them a blend of exhilaration, anxiety and exhaustion, even when everything goes as they had hoped. When a birth injury occurs, however, before birth or during delivery, it may unnecessarily endanger the newborn’s health.
For every 1,000 babies born in the United States, five will experience harm during birth either from improper use of forceps or a vacuum, or due to an improper medical procedure during delivery. An estimated 3% of all babies have a birth defect or irregularity which may be the result of heredity, the mother’s alcohol or drug intake during pregnancy, or prescribed drugs during pregnancy.
When birth injuries are the result of medical malpractice, it is important for Baltimore-area parents to have the legal resources to determine the best course of action that protects their parental rights and the rights of the baby.
What are the most common birth injuries?
Although babies can suffer from minor injuries during birth, these usually heal on their own. But oxygen deprivation from delayed birth and other birth traumas can cause serious complications that may lead to disability. Some of the most common birth injuries include:
- Cerebral palsy from brain damage before or during birth.
- Erb’s palsy from nerve damage to the shoulders.
- Kernicterus, which is brain damage from untreated severe jaundice.
- Spinal cord injury, from improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction.
Babies who have developed a condition may show telltale signs of birth injury, such as:
- Weak reflexes
- Arched back while crying
- Stiff muscles
- High-pitched crying
Injured babies may experience seizures, and as they grow older, they may miss important developmental stages.
How do you determine the merits of a medical malpractice claim?
When filing a medical malpractice claim, this will involve proving medical negligence on the part of the healthcare provider, hospital, or medical personnel that can occur before, during, or after birth. The injured party must show that the medical professional:
- owed a duty of care to the baby, and in some cases, the mother.
- breached this duty by acting or failing to act as a reasonably competent individual would.
- caused harm to the baby through this breach.
Diagnosing the cause of the birth injury will require expert medical examination and testimony. Being able to establish a clear link between the injury and the caregiver’s actions can also be challenging. It is also important to bear in mind that the statute of limitations for a medical negligence claim for children 11 and older is the lesser of five years from the date of injury or three years from discovery.