Planning a birth should be an exciting time. But no matter how much you plan, sometimes things do not go how you want them to. This could be due to the baby coming too quickly or any unexpected complications. The most common grounds for medical malpractice lawsuits during childbirth are negligence claims. This could be because medical professionals have failed to apply the appropriate skills and care before or during the birth. Less common is personal injury claims as a result of inappropriate care.
According to Medscape’s data for 2013, the average medical malpractice lawsuit settlement secured was $425,000, with the average jury awardable to exceed this and hit over $1,000,000. Medical malpractice lawsuits always end up with different outcomes meaning that an average settlement amount is hard to come up with. If you suffer disproportionately during or after childbirth, be sure to keep hold of receipts and any information of expenses you have occurred as a result.
Some examples In terms of injuries that could have been preventable during childbirth include ‘caput succedaneum’ which is where the scalp of the newborn becomes swollen due to pressures on the head due to a prolonged or problematic head-first delivery or using the vacuum extraction procedure. The swelling can be accompanied by visual bruising but the condition usually abates after a few days. ‘Cephalohematoma’ is a condition that can occur when blood collects between the cranial bone and the skin and is usually the result of vacuum extraction. This condition can lead to jaundice but often goes away by itself but can take up to 3 months to do so.
‘Erb’s Palsy’, also known as Brachial plexus birth palsy is an injury to the cluster of nerves that is near the baby’s neck and can occur from overstretching to the neck and shoulder area during delivery. The injury can cause weakness, loss of motion in the arms and numbness and can affect up to two every 1000 babies. Some newborns will recover the movement and feeling in the arm that’s affected. However, Erb’s Palsy can have different levels of severity and in worst-case scenarios, infants will need surgery and physical therapy if no improvement is seen during a three to six month period.
Certain factors can increase the likelihood of an accident occurring during childbirth. If not addressed and properly accounted for by professionals, they will come under medical malpractice due to negligence. The first being ‘macrosomia’ which is the medical term for a child that has grown far too large for their due date, usually around 13 ounces is considered too large. Other factors include prolonged labor or premature births (births that occurred before week 37) or if the uterus of the mother cannot handle a vaginal birth due to shape or size then this must be accounted for before labor.
Incorrect application of proper skill or use when using instrumental tools such as forceps or a vacuum also would mean the medical professional was accountable for any accidents that occur. Excessive stress or pulling on the baby during delivery would also be the professional’s fault.