Maryland Attorney for Surgery for Birth Injuries
After going through a long pregnancy and a painful delivery, it is almost impossible to imagine watching your small and delicate infant going through a surgical procedure. Unfortunately, many infants suffer birth injuries that require immediate surgery to save their lives or improve their quality of life. When the birth injury was the result of negligence on the part of the obstetrician or another medical professional, the thought of surgery is even more heartbreaking.
The attorneys and staff at Rice, Murtha & Psoras are well acquainted with the variety of medical mistakes that often result in serious birth injuries. When those injuries require surgery, the emotional anguish parents go through increases.
Contact our Maryland attorney for surgery for birth injuries if your child suffered an injury before, during, or after delivery. Call (410) 694-7291 for a free case review today.
Common Causes for Emergency Surgeries Performed on Maryland Infants at Birth
Depending on the type and severity of the birth injury, surgery might be required immediately to save the life of the infant. A surgical procedure might also be necessary in the near future to improve the quality of life of the baby.
Brain and Head Injuries
One of the most common reasons infants undergo surgery soon after birth is a severe head or brain trauma, such as a skull fracture or a brain hemorrhage. A ruptured blood vessel and bleeding in the brain places excessive pressure on the infant’s brain, possibly causing permanent brain damage. This type of injury is often caused by the misuse of surgical instruments, such as forceps or a vacuum extractor, when assisting a difficult delivery.
Any brain surgery is delicate. A surgeon might use a CT scan before surgery to get a clearer picture of the injury the infant sustained. Typically, if an imaging device is used on a baby, a surgeon will administer ultrasonography, which is more precise than a CT scan. Some types of brain and head surgeries include craniotomy drainage and surgical decompression, debridement, or evacuation.
Erb’s Palsy or Klumpke’s Palsy
When an infant suffers a brachial plexus injury, the nerve complex around the baby’s shoulder is damaged. Depending on the exact area and severity of the injury, an infant could experience weakness in their arm and hand, to paralysis of the limb. Erb’s palsy typically affects the entire arm while Klumpke’s palsy is limited to the hand or forearm. While these types of injuries could naturally occur during birth, they are often the result of a medical mistake during delivery. When too much force is placed on an infant’s neck or shoulder, the baby could suffer a brachial plexus injury.
While surgery is generally the last option a doctor will turn to for an infant, the seriousness of the injury could render it necessary. Surgery on the nerves typically does not fully restore normal function, especially if the procedure is performed months or years after the birth. However, it still provides an opportunity for the child to have greater use of the affected limb than if the surgery was not performed.
Cerebral palsy is a condition that interrupts communication between the infant’s brain and the rest of their body. Typical symptoms of cerebral palsy include involuntary muscle spasms and difficulty in controlling groups of muscles. Often, cerebral palsy is the result of a birth injury due to the negligent conduct of the doctor performing the delivery. A common surgery performed to help alleviate symptoms of cerebral palsy is selective dorsal rhizotomy. This procedure reduces spasms in the child’s legs by stimulating the sensory nerve fibers.
Repairing Cardiac Irregularities
A lot of children are born with heart defects. In most cases, this is nothing a doctor could have avoided, and so these cases do not often stem from malpractice. However, congenital heart defect repairs are sometimes the cause of new malpractice. If the doctor committed mistakes or caused additional harm to your baby by performing negligent heart surgery after your child was born, that could also constitute malpractice.
What Should I Do if My Infant’s Birth Injuries Were Avoidable?
In some cases, you will tragically find out that a genetic or gestational abnormality caused your child’s injuries or conditions, and there might be little you can do. If they needed surgery to repair these issues, then you can often do little more than hope for the best. However, if the injuries or mistakes during surgery were avoidable, then you could be entitled to a lawsuit against the negligent doctors and hospital.
First, you will need help determining whether the injuries were indeed avoidable. This often means talking to a birth injury lawyer and seeking a second opinion from another doctor. Even in cases where the doctors said that the condition or injury was congenital or hereditary, you might want to seek a second opinion. In many cases, cerebral palsy and other conditions are passed off as merely hereditary, but they are in fact caused by a mistake the medical team is keeping from you.
Second, you should watch for signs of delayed development and other irregularities in your child’s growth. Often, birth injuries resulting in health problems and ongoing conditions do involve slowed physical development, trouble walking and moving, or delayed mental development. These can all be signs that something went wrong during your child’s delivery or subsequent surgery that could entitle you to substantial compensation for the ongoing harm they faced.
In any case, you should speak with a lawyer for more information. Our experienced attorneys for surgery for birth injuries can direct you to resources and help you set up appointments with doctors to get to the bottom of your child’s injuries and find proof of what your doctor did wrong.
Is Surgery for Infant Birth Injuries in Maryland Normal?
In general, it is not normal for a baby to need surgery after being born. Surgery is typically a last resort for medical care and is only necessary when something is already wrong. In some cases, surgery could be needed for a newborn born with a congenital issue that the doctor could not have prevented. However, many surgeries are needed right after birth because the child suffered a birth injury, which might have been preventable.
A wide variety of birth-related injuries could occur before, during, or just after delivery. In some instances of severe injuries, surgery is necessary to increase the infant’s odds of survival. In other cases, surgery could determine whether a child will have full use of a damaged limb.
Often, the causes of injuries that require surgery are not foreseeable. However, in some instances, surgery is needed because of the negligent conduct or decisions on the part of an obstetrician or an attending nurse. In other cases, the need for surgery is foreseeable, but in those cases the parents will usually be aware of the planned surgery, and it will not be a surprise.
Some common injuries that require a newborn to undergo surgery include serious brachial plexus injuries, brain hemorrhaging, and fractures of the skull. Often, these injuries are created by, or exacerbated by, a physician applying excessive force on the baby in an attempt to assist the birth. In these cases, surgery is normal because it is one of the best ways to correct this harm, but it is something that is only necessary because the doctor made a grave mistake.
Can I Sue if My Infant Required Surgery for Avoidable Birth Injuries in Maryland?
In some unfortunate cases, a child will require surgery because of an unavoidable birth complication. However, when the birth injury is the direct result of a doctor’s negligence or inattentiveness, you are entitled to seek financial compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Your doctor owes you and your child a standard of care that is the same level of care a reasonable and similarly trained physician would provide under the same circumstances. If your obstetrician or the medical staff deviated from the appropriate level of care, their conduct could constitute negligence.
Through the use of medical evidence and expert testimony, our Maryland birth injury attorneys will work to prove that your doctor failed to adhere to the appropriate standard of care, causing your child’s birth injury. You should be compensated for any additional expenses arising from any necessary surgeries or other require healthcare. Additionally, people in Maryland can recover for their emotional and mental distress. Our experienced medical malpractice attorney will help you calculate your compensation and fight for your right to recover.
Who is Responsible When an Infant Sustains Birth Injuries in Maryland?
When looking at a birth injury case as a whole, there are often grounds to hold the doctor and the hospital responsible for the child’s injuries. This can happen even in cases where the doctor did not cause the emergency situation. Generally, there must be a determination that there was malpractice for a lawsuit to issue forth, and once it does, it can potentially be filed against the doctor and the hospital they worked for.
Grounds for Suing for Malpractice for Birth Injuries
To sue for a birth injury, you need to show that there was medical malpractice involved. Malpractice is when a doctor commits negligence or otherwise fails to conform their care to the “standard of care.” The standard of care is not some set standard written down in a medical textbook but is instead defined as what a reasonable doctor would do in a similar situation, given that they have similar training and experience.
For example, when an obstetrician is confronted with a birth where the baby has their umbilical cord wrapped around their neck, most doctors might agree that the first best step is to turn to an emergency C-section to deliver the baby. If the doctor failed to do so, their care might have fallen below that standard of care and could constitute malpractice.
Keep in mind that with most birth injury cases, the injury happens because the doctor fails to act appropriately. In some cases, the doctor actually causes the injury, such as in cases where the doctor uses forceps when they should not and crushes the newborn’s skull resulting in brain damage. However, most cases involve an inappropriate response to an emergency situation that results in additional harm.
In some cases, the doctor’s negligence happens even before you get to the delivery room. Many issues with screening and maternal care can be overlooked, allowing a situation to become a medical emergency. For example, if the doctor saw a heart defect on an ultrasound but failed to plan for surgery after the delivery, then any harm the baby suffers from not getting that surgery could be the doctor’s fault. A simpler example might be in a case where the doctor knew the mother’s narrow birth canal would make delivery impossible and failed to schedule a C-section, pushing the mother to try vaginal birth anyway.
Suing the Doctor vs. Suing the Hospital
When birth injuries occur, it is likely the doctor’s fault rather than the hospital’s as a whole. However, there are some issues around birth, such as dropping a baby, that could be the fault of nurses or orderlies. In cases where the doctor is the person who directly made the mistakes, the case can usually be filed against the doctor.
If the doctor was a hospital employee, which is quite common in obstetrics, then you might also be able to sue the hospital in their role as the doctor’s employer.
If the malpractice occurred during the subsequent emergency surgery and not because of the birth itself, then it is possible you could sue that doctor instead. Again, if they are a hospital employee, you could be entitled to sue the hospital, too.
Contact Maryland Attorney Randolph Rice for a Free Consultation About Suing for Surgery for Birth Injuries
Childbirth has many inherent risks to both the child and the mother. When serious birth complications arise, surgery might be required to protect the health and life of the infant. When the birth injury is the result of negligent conduct on the part of your doctor or medical staff, they should be held responsible for any harm they caused. If your child experienced an injury during birth, contact our Maryland attorney for surgery for birth injuries. For a free case assessment, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.