What Are The Most Common Preventable Birth Injuries?

Having a child is a crucial milestone and a joyous occasion in the lives of parents and families. However, in some instances this can be marred due to the negligence (carelessness) of the medical provider at the time of the labor or delivery leading to the child suffering injuries at birth. Birth injuries result in lifelong disabilities and can affect the child’s future happiness and wellbeing. While birth injuries range in type and severity, a preventable birth injury is often the outcome of poor decision-making on the part of the doctor, surgeon or another member of the medical team.

Common Causes of Birth Injuries

A birth injury can occur due to a number of factors including incorrect decisions made by your doctor or medical team. Some of the common risk factors for birth injuries such as brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) or cerebral palsy include:

• Larger than average size of the baby
• Premature babies born before 37 weeks of gestation
• Difficult or prolonged labor
• Mother’s pelvis is too small for a vaginal birth
• Abnormal position of the baby such as a breech delivery (feet-first instead of head-first)

In other birth injury cases, a medical provider may fail to or not:

• Not properly monitor the fetal heart rate
• Fail to detect signs of fetal distress before or during birth
• Not promptly order a Cesarean section when required
• Fail to detect maternal infections or other abnormalities in the mother or the baby
• Competently use birth-assistive tools such as forceps or a vacuum

Birth Injuries That Should Be Prevented

Brachial Plexus Palsy or Erb’s Palsy: This refers to a type of injury to the nerves of the brachial plexus, which may affect sensation and movement in the arms and shoulder. Symptoms of Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus palsy include limp arm and an inability to grip objects or move one’s arm. Treatments for this condition may range from physical therapy to surgery. This is a birth injury that may result in lifelong disabilities.

Brain damage: This is one of the most serious birth injuries a child may suffer, but it is also preventable in many cases. There are different types of brain damage that may occur at birth, which are permanent and result in lifelong issues. Brain damage at birth is often caused by lack of oxygen to the baby during birth. However, it can also be caused by maternal infections such as jaundice or physical trauma to the baby during birth that the medical staff fails to flag or treat.

Facial paralysis: This happens when there is increased pressure on a baby’s face during birth. This may occur when forceps are incorrectly used to deliver the baby. When these tools are not used properly, it may cause injury to the facial nerve. Symptoms of facial paralysis include inability to move one side of the face.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. One of our clients secured a $2,850,000 verdict in an Erb’s palsy (brachial plexus palsy) case that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,846,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate (appeals) courts for many, many years. In addition we recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

We have seen many cases where New York City Health and Hospital Corporation facilities deliver babies who are born with cerebral palsy or brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) stemming from negligence (carelessness), and/or medical malpractice in the labor and delivery etc. of the children.

The following list identifies some of these hospitals (operated by New York City Health and Hospital Corporation):

• Jacobi Hospital aka Bronx Municipal 1400 Pelham Parkway South Bronx, New York 10461 718-918-5000
• Lincoln Hospital 234 East 149th Street Bronx, New York 10451 718-579-5000
• North Central Bronx Hospital 3424 Kossuth Avenue Bronx, New York 10467 718-519-5000
• Coney Island Hospital 2601 Ocean Parkway Brooklyn, New York 11235 718-616-3000
• Kings County Hospital 451 Clarkson Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11203 718-245-3131
• Woodhull Hospital 760 Broadway Brooklyn, New York 11206 718-963-8000
• Bellevue Hospital 462 First Avenue New York, New York 10016 212-562-5555
• Harlem Hospital 506 Lenox Avenue New York, New York 10037 212-939-1000
• Metropolitan Hospital 1901 First Avenue New York, New York 10029 212-423-6262
• Elmhurst Hospital 79-01 Broadway Elmhurst, New York 11373 718-334-4000
• Queens Hospital Center 82-68 164th Street Jamaica, New York 11432 718-883-3000

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