Category Archives: Birth Injury

Topamax Birth Injury Lawsuit Verdict Upheld

A Pennsylvania appeals court upheld a $3 million birth injury lawsuit verdict in a case against a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson last month. The verdict was appealed by the defendant after the trial court found that the drug manufacturer failed to warn doctors about the risks associated with Topamax and birth injuries. Pharmaceutical companies have a legal and ethical duty to inform doctors of any potential side effects or risks of drugs so doctors can inform patients and prescribe medications accordingly. Birth injuries and defects caused by dangerous drugs are serious and can have permanent consequences. Entire blog

High C-section rate could be financially motivated

The number of cesarean deliveries that are performed at hospitals in California and around the country may be excessive, according to some researchers. In the United States, nearly 33 percent of births are C-sections. The U.S. C-section rate is much higher than the ideal C-section rate of 10 to 15 percent that was established by the World Health Organization. Entire blog

Home births determined safe for low-risk pregnancies

California residents should be aware of a Canadian study, which found that women with low-risk pregnancies who use the services of a midwife to deliver a baby at home have no significantly greater risk of serious injury or neonatal death than women who give birth in a hospital. The study found that planned home births correlated with fewer medical interventions, such as cesarean delivery. Well-designed studies show a consistent finding that hospital birth and at-home birth with the assistance of a midwife are comparable in terms of safety. Entire blog

Electronic fetal monitoring can increase childbirth risks

Electronic fetal monitoring is the single most common obstetric procedure in California and across the United States, with statistics showing it is used on more than eight out of 10 pregnant women. However, years of studies show that it is unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

EFM, which includes internal and external monitoring of a baby’s heart rate during labor, was introduced in the 1960s to prevent fetal asphyxia. In the decades since, researchers have found that the procedure does little to save the lives of babies or mothers. In fact, it has been shown to increase childbirth risks because it is associated with a higher rate of aggressive labor interventions, such as C-sections and vacuum extractions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stopped recommending continuous EFM 25 years ago and updated its guidelines in 2013 to note that the practice has not had any effect on perinatal mortality. In 2015, the American Academy of Nursing also advised against the automatic use of EFM.

There are a few reasons why it is still so widely used, however. One is that birth in the U.S. has become a highly medicalized process. Drugs, fetal monitoring, episiotomies, C-sections and other interventions have become routine during labor, and many medical professionals now view it as necessary. However, research suggests that low tech alternatives to EFM, such as stethoscopes or fetoscopes, carry less risk during childbirth.

California mothers who believe they or their baby were injured during delivery may benefit by consulting with an attorney. In some cases, it could be advisable to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible parties seeking compensation for the damages that have been incurred.

California leads the way in reducing pregnancy complications

Pregnancy and delivery have often presented dangers to the mother who is giving birth. However, the incidence today of a death during a pregnancy are about 18.5 per every 100,000 live births in the United States. While this number has risen from a low of eight per 100,000 live births in 1987, the rate is not climbing in all parts of the country.

In California, the number of deaths during pregnancy is roughly six per every 100,000 live births, which is down from more than 17 per 100,000 in 2006. The decrease is largely attributed to the state’s actions to better manage obstetric hemorrhage and preeclampsia, which are the leading causes of preventable maternal death. Due to the success that California experienced, the goal is to better manage causes of preventable maternal death such as severe hypertension nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists hope to implement these new procedures within three years. The hope is that maternal deaths will be halved in the United States within five years. Furthermore, it is hoped that the expansion of Medicaid in some states under the Affordable Care Act will help women get access to the care needed to be healthy enough to avoid complications during a pregnancy.

A pregnant woman who is injured during delivery may want to consider filing a lawsuit against the health care practitioner if negligence can be demonstrated. The hospital where the delivery took place may also be liable for damages. An attorney who has experience in medical malpractice litigation can assist the injured client by examining the applicable medical records and consulting with records in an attempt to demonstrate a failure to provide the requisite standard of care.

Preventing birth injuries by inducing labor

Although it is not common for doctors in California and around the country to induce labor until a pregnancy has reached 39 weeks, it may be safer to do so if the baby is unusually large. By inducing labor at 37 or 38 weeks, the baby will have more room to navigate the birth canal without getting its shoulders stuck. If the baby’s shoulder does get stuck inside of its mother, it could lead to nerve damage or shoulder fracture.

The risk of shoulder dystocia is about 1 percent in births involving normally-sized babies. However, the risk increases to 10 percent in babies that are larger than normal at birth. In a study involving several European hospitals, 800 women who had fetuses in the 95 percentile of weight based on gestational age were split into two groups. In one group, the women were induced early while women in the other group were simply monitored unless it was medically necessary to induce labor.

Babies delivered by those who were induced suffered shoulder dystocia in 2 percent of all births. This was compared to 6 percent for babies who were delivered by mothers who were merely monitored. However, doctors say that there are other risks that need to be considered before concluding that early induction is always best for the infant in this type of scenario.

If a baby is injured during delivery, the parents may want to consider taking legal action against the doctor under whose direction the birthing procedure was performed. In addition, the health care facility where the delivery took place may also be held responsible in some instances. The parents of the child may be entitled to compensation for the costs of medical treatment and potential long-term care costs.

Simple safety measures can dramatically reduce birth injuries

Birth injuries that occur in California hospitals can have fatal outcomes or cause devastating lifelong consequences. However, a recent report by Public Citizen has demonstrated how simple procedural changes can be used to dramatically reduce negative outcomes in hospital births. The report detailed what happened over the course of 15 years when four medical organizations implemented a birth safety initiative.

The medical organizations that were studied were Ascension Health, New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Premier Inc. and Hospital Corporation of America. All four of the organizations made changes that included more communications training for delivery room staff, simulations to practice responses to emergency delivery situations and the use of more caution before going forward with a cesarean section delivery.

After the birth safety initiative was implemented in the 43 hospitals operated by Ascension Health, neonatal fatality rates dropped by almost 50 percent. Before this dramatic improvement, Acension Health reportedly already ranked 62 percent below the national average for neonatal fatalities. Premier Inc. saw a 74-percent reduction in birth trauma for full term infants across its 16 hospitals, and maternal fatalities from pulmonary embolisms went down by 86 percent at Hospital Corporation of America. New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center was able to significantly reduce the incidence of brain injuries from lack of oxygen.

Parents are sometimes unaware of the exact reasons as to why their baby was injured during delivery until after an investigation is completed. If parents suspect that there might have been negligence in the delivery room, they might want to get in contact with an attorney. An attorney may be able to help parents determine who was liable for their baby’s injury and pursue an appropriate award for damages.

Head trauma in young children

As many California parents may know, head injury in the pediatric population may be associated with car crashes, falls and other accidents. The type of head injury relates to the intensity of trauma.

When a child with a head injury goes to the doctor, he or she should be examined for lacerations, swelling or bruises of the cranium. Scalp wounds often bleed profusely and might indicate additional issues such as a fracture. Because of the pediatric patient’s size, scalp wounds are capable of inducing hypotension and leading to shock.

Skull fractures in children are generally linear and are easy to see in an X-ray. When a child suffers a blow to the posterior skull, a basilar fracture may result. Such fractures show multiple symptoms including seizures, loss of consciousness and confusion. The child may exhibit nausea and vomiting. Battle’s sign, a bruised area behind the ear, may be present along with darkening around the eyes. Cerebrospinal fluid may be seen draining from the ears and nose. All of these symptoms are diagnostic of a cranial fracture and usually involve brain trauma.

Concussions are usually diagnosed some time after the trauma. On occasion, younger children might have seizures and other symptoms. The presentation of symptoms may be delayed in younger patients.

When a child suffers head trauma such as might happen from an amusement park injury, it is common for some symptoms to have a certain latency period before they are seen. Since head trauma might lead to serious problems that interfere with the patient’s mental capacity, speaking with an attorney after the accident may be beneficial.

The attorneys may review the circumstances of the accident and determine if it was the result of negligence. The attorney may help the parents file a personal injury suit, if need be, to cover financial loss due to hospital bills and medical care.

What risks are associated with forceps-assisted delivery?

During a vaginal delivery, doctors may need to use forceps in order to get the baby out. Most women in California will not require the use of forceps, and it is safer to deliver without the use of this special tool. Although there are some risks associated with forceps-assisted deliveries, there are rarely any lasting problems when they are carried out properly.

For babies, there are various risks that come with the use of forceps, most of which are not severe. These include bruises or bumps on the face that will heal quickly, injured nerves that will heal in a short amount of time, a swelled or cone-shaped head that will return to normal in a day or two, and cuts from the forceps, which rarely happens. The most serious risk associated with this type of delivery is bleeding within the baby’s head, but this is very rare.

For mothers, the risks are less varied. The potential consequences that come with using forceps are severe vaginal tears and issues with bowel movement and urinating after the delivery.

After a mother has been pushing and the cervix is fully dilated, there are various reasons a forceps-assisted delivery might be the best course of action. The mother might be too tired to continue pushing, or a medical issue might make pushing dangerous. Before this type of method is used, the mother will be given medicine and protection will be placed on the baby’s head.

If a mother or her baby is injured during delivery, it may be in her best interests to seek out compensation. Minor birth injuries are not uncommon, but if the harm done is severe or the result of negligence on the part of the doctor, a personal injury lawyer may be of assistance.

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