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Articles Posted in Birth Injuries

Many Kentucky parents depend on doctors to safely deliver babies. However, medical professionals sometimes make mistakes during a child’s delivery that can result in serious birth injuries.

For example, the federal government recently agreed to pay $42 million to a Pennsylvania couple whose son suffered brain injuries from the use of forceps during his birth. According to court documents, the boy was delivered at federally-supported Keystone Women’s Health Center in February 2012. During the delivery, an obstetrician used forceps to pull on the boy’s head, allegedly causing skull fractures and bleeding in his brain. As a result, the boy, now age 5, is unable to speak, read or write. He will also likely be confined to a motorized wheelchair for the rest of his life.

The judge in the case noted that the mother and baby were not in distress when the obstetrician chose to use forceps, leading the court to believe that the procedure was unnecessary. The parents were awarded $33 million for their son’s future medical expenses and the cost of assisted living. They were also awarded an additional $5 million for the boy’s pain and suffering, around $3.5 million for the loss of his future earnings and nearly $105,000 for his past medical bills. The government initially appealed the ruling but withdrew its claim on Feb. 1.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd has ruled that the new law mandating that medical malpractice cases must first be presented to medical review panels is unconstitutional.

This decision is a boost for people who have suffered injuries in the care of providers. Medical review panels add an additional obstacle to people seeking justice due to substandard care.

The law had the effect of protecting wealthy professionals and institutions from claims by ordinary people who happened to be injured while being treated.

Although most Kentucky parents expect the delivery of their child to go as planned, birth injuries can occur. One injury that can be caused by a difficult delivery is called Erb’s palsy. Also known as brachial plexus birth palsy, it can cause an infant’s arm to be partially or fully paralyzed.

The brachial plexus, a group of nerves located in the neck, provide mobility and feeling to the arm area, including the shoulder and fingers. If an infant’s neck is stretched to the side during the delivery, damage can be caused to this group of nerves. In many cases, this injury can be overcome with daily physical therapy exercises. In the meantime, the infant may have trouble moving the affected shoulder or raising his or her arm.

Brachial plexus birth palsyy can be caused by a prolonged labor, a breech presentation or if the baby is particularly large. Symptoms can include weakness or loss of feeling in the affected arm and partial or total paralysis of the affected arm. A pediatrician generally will make the diagnosis after a physical examination. While the injury often healson its own, the pediatrician may continue to examine the arm to see if the nerves are recovering. The pediatrician may also teach parents exercises that can help keep the infant’s arm healthy and limber while the nerves are recovering, especially if the infant cannot move the arm. Otherwise, surgical treatment may be needed.

Expectant parents in Kentucky who are concerned about birth injuries should know about a ruling that was issued by a Pennsylvania court against the federal government. The government will be required to pay $41.6 million in compensation after an obstetrician working at a health clinic funded by the federal government was deemed negligent in the use of forceps to deliver a baby. The baby sustained permanent brain damage because of the medical care.

According to the lawsuit, the excessive traction and force and the mishandling of the forceps on the baby’s skull by the obstetrician resulted in disastrous neurological damage to the baby. An expert witness who testified at the trial stated that the use of forceps in these types of deliveries are an option reserved for severe cases in which a life is at risk. Another witness testified that the baby incurred bleeding in the brain, multiple skull fractures and damage to the brain stem and cerebellum as a result of the use of the forceps.

The Federal Tort Claims Act discards the immunity of the federal government in lawsuits pertaining to medical malpractice. Such claims against the government that stem from negligence that occurs in federally-funded hospitals typically have to adhere to the medical malpractice laws of the state in which the injury took place, with the exception of certain notice requirements and a different statute of limitations. However, the claims can only apply to those who are employed by the federal government facility and not those who are classified as independent contractors. The cap on damages on the medical malpractice cases filed under the FTCA is also determined by state law.

Many Kentucky residents may believe that cerebral palsy is a condition that is caused by oxygen deprivation at the time a child is born. However, science is showing that this may be a less common cause of the condition. CP can occur prior to or after birth, and oxygen deprivation is only one of the potential risk factors.

When CP is caused prior to or during birth, it is considered congenital, which is the case in up to 90 percent of occurrences. A case occurring after birth is referred to as acquired CP. Congenital CP is typically attributed to issues such as premature birth or low birth weight. In some situations, these issues can be associated with multiple births or fertility treatments. Infections occurring during pregnancy or at the time of birth can also result in CP. A mother’s medical condition could contribute to the condition. CP as a birth injury can occur because of difficulties such as uterine rupture, which may interfere with the supply of oxygen for an infant. Post-birth cases of CP can be related to infections or injuries.

Some CP cases may be inevitable because of genetic issues, but others might be prevented through the health measures taken by a mother and her healthcare providers. However, a mother dealing with concerns about questionable actions taken by health care personnel during the labor and delivery process might want to consider having someone examine her medical records from a legal standpoint to determine whether any of those actions could have caused the CP.

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