New York Attorneys for Premature Birth and Premature Birth Injuries
There are close to 500,000 premature births every year in the United States. So much so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts the issue at the forefront during the month of November, considered to be Premature Birth Awareness Month. With full term defined as 40 weeks, a pre-term birth is defined as a birth that occurs in less than 37 weeks, or at least three weeks before a baby’s actual due date. It stands to reason that the earlier a baby is born, the higher risk there is for health problems, developmental delays or birth injury. In fact, according to the CDC, “more infants die from pre-term related problems than from any other single cause.” A number of risks can happen when a premature birth injury takes place including:
- delays in developmental milestones
- intellectual disabilities
- difficulty with the respiratory system
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb’s Palsy
- vision loss and hearing loss–one or both
- digestive problems
A premature birth injury is not an event that any mother, family or child wants to experience.
What is a Premature Birth Injury?
To clarify some common terms, people tend to confuse birth injury with birth defect, when in fact, both are vastly different. A birth defect is a genetically-predisposed condition that is caused by DNA, or propelled by another event during the time the woman is pregnant, such as exposure to toxic materials, or smoking while pregnant. A birth injury is an actual traumatic event that occurs during the birthing process, and is often caused by negligence of a delivery room doctor when failing to act to avoid a trauma during the birthing process. These premature birth injuries come in various forms—from lacerations during childbirth, to retinal tears, to inaccurate assessment of inducing delivery, to brain injury from unreliable methods used by both seasoned and inexperienced healthcare professionals. While it may seem obvious, not all types of trauma that occur during birth are immediately detected, however. Such signs of birth injury can be discovered over time during visits to the child’s doctor, and include deficiencies with the growth of internal organs, or hearing or vision loss. Regardless of the type of trauma, a premature birth injury can be devastating and, with proper precautions and foresight, should never occur.
Causes of Premature Birth and Premature Birth Injury
Lawsuits involving premature birth injuries have been filed with claims that improper medical care by attending physicians are what led children to develop severe medical conditions during childbirth and after—conditions such as poor visual response, low birth rate, susceptibility to infection, and other long-term health issues. Because doctors are overworked and understaffed, there is no guarantee that a woman will have the delivery performed by the preferred obstetrician. At the time of delivery, she may find that another doctor is “on call” or that her doctor is out of town. The woman may end up having the child delivered by someone who lacks the knowledge of her individual medical history. And, these days, many doctors rely on reports to provide information rather than examining the patient thoroughly themselves, leading to improper delivery of babies by uninformed medical professionals. Many women are left wondering whether the staff had the necessary training to recognize pre-term labor conditions as contractions, pelvic pressure, abnormal backache and cramping.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “at least 30% of all birth injuries are caused by communication errors between physicians and medical staff regarding medical history and patient health information.” Some of that miscommunication included:
- Failure to detect and monitor fetal distress
- Problems with umbilical cord placement
- Misdiagnosis of the baby’s arrival date
- Misuse of tools for accelerating delivery
- Delay in procedures that could accelerate delivery
It may seem like common knowledge that a pregnant women’s condition should be closely monitored throughout her pregnancy, yet it is astounding how many women are monitored ineffectively or inaccurately by their physicians. Careful monitoring may necessitate the need to provide medication to stop contractions, or the need to speed up the development of the baby’s lungs, or to prevent infection. A capable physician will assess certain risk factors ahead of time based on a variety of factors including the family history of one or both parents, as well as the type of pregnancy experienced by the woman. Some of these factors include:
- whether or not multiple birth is evident
- whether or not one or both parents were regular users of drugs, alcohol or tobacco
- whether the mother was severely underweight or grossly overweight
- whether is there is history of diabetes, hypertension or blood clotting
Because no two pregnancies are the same, mothers-to-be rely heavily on their physicians to help guide them through the process and comfort them when they feel anxious about delivery. For instance, many women experience Braxton Hicks contractions. A first-time-mother may be unaware of the intensity of these types of contractions; therefore, they have no gauge by which to compare, and are often dismissed by the physician. But, in some cases, the contractions are not signs of false labor; they are actual progressing contractions which the physician should have assessed before sending her home. When the mother-to-be returns back to the hospital, it may be too late for proper care. And, in some scary situations where emergency delivery occurs, the doctor uses a vacuum extractor tool which, sadly, can result in devastating effects, including bronchial plasia, shoulder dystocia, brain bleeding, skull fracture, retinal hemorrhaging and brain hemorrhaging.
Legal Help for Victims and Families Involved in Premature Birth Injury
Medical malpractice cases come in many forms, and a birth injury lawsuit is just one of the many. Proving malpractice on your own may be difficult unless you have a quality legal team to assist you. While many families choose to wait until a lawsuit is settled before getting proper care for the child, it is important that the child receive care throughout life. Financial stressors prohibit care from coming sooner, unless compensation is awarded through a lawsuit. Some elements that come into play and determine whether you have a valid lawsuit includes: proving the responsibility of the physician at the time the birth injury happened, such as who was there, who assisted, and under whose direction did the events occur. Additionally, evidence needs to support that the physician in charge did make a medical error at the time the baby was being delivered, or shortly thereafter. The evidence must show that the breach of duty of care is actually what caused the birth injury.
Many families are unaware that they are eligible for, and entitled to, significant compensation for their family and child in a premature birth injury lawsuit. A firm renowned for helping in these areas will make the situation as stress free as possible in an already stressful situation. Yet, many families do not find the time to seek this type of assistance, as they deal with daily care of the child, juggling or permanently changing work schedules, and adjusting to various modes of physical and emotional therapy.
The sad aftermath of anyone involved in a premature birth injury means living with the effects of someone else’s negligence, and can lead to a lifetime of financial difficulty and distress, particularly as the child becomes older. Add that to past, current and future medical expenses and care giving costs associated with rehabilitation and special equipment, and a light at the end of the tunnel seems nonexistent.
If you or someone you know has experienced trauma in the form of a premature birth injury, the first course of action is to enlist a renowned firm for personal injury and liability. The team at Finz & Finz will guide you through every step of the process in order to seek the compensation you deserve. There is no obligation when you take the Free Premature Birth Injury Evaluation form, or call (855)TOP-FIRM.