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July 2019

Damages That Follow an Infant and/or Mother Birth Injury

There are certain costs of raising a child that you expect when you’re pregnant and your due date is fast approaching, such as diapers, food, and education. However, these financial considerations will be far from your mind if you’re informed that your baby has suffered a birth injury as a result of medical error. The emotional impact of such news can be considerable, especially as you think about the immediate and long-term damages. According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cost of birth injury hospitalizations to the US health care system averages about $23 billion.

Still, these figures don’t do justice to what you and your family will incur personally, and they don’t cover the long-term damages that inevitably result from birth injuries. When you realize that a medical mistake will become an alarming economic burden, it’s time to discuss your circumstances with an Atlanta, GA birth injuries lawyer

Costs of Immediate Care After a Birth Injury: During or immediately following delivery, health care practitioners may need to provide specialized medical care just to stabilize the infant’s or mother’s medical condition. It may be necessary to perform surgery or other procedures, and your newborn may spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A March of Dimes publication on Special Care Nursery Admissions reveals that, when infants are admitted to the NICU, the average length of stay is approximately 13 days – totaling more than $76,000 in medical and hospitalization costs.

Long-Term Direct Costs: For babies that suffer serious developmental conditions due to birth injuries, the expenses don’t end when you bring your newborn home. The CDC estimates that the direct costs of raising a child with intellectual or developmental disabilities can be 25 times a healthy child. These expenses may encompass such ongoing medical care as:

  • Physical, behavioral, cognitive, and speech therapies;
  • In-home care or placement at an assisted living center;
  • Corrective surgeries;
  • Wheelchairs, adaptive equipment, and assistive devices;
  • Renovations to your home to allow for adaptive equipment and hospital beds;
  • Vehicle modification and lifts to accommodate adaptive equipment; and,
  • Much more.

Indirect Damages: There are also implications that you don’t anticipate when your baby suffers from a birth injury that has permanent ramifications. Some may be measurable in terms of cost, but others are hard to value in dollar figures. Perhaps the most impactful is for parents who choose to care for the child at home. Many victims of birth injuries will require care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which makes it impractical – and usually impossible – to work full time. Caretakers give up their sources of income, and may even need to forego future professional and business-related opportunities.

There are also indirect damages that affect the child, especially quality of life. Plus, depending on the specifics, there’s the possibility of premature mortality.

Consult with an Atlanta Birth Injury Attorney About Your Claim

You may be entitled to compensation for both direct and indirect costs, in the short and long-term, if you or your child suffered birth injuries due to medical malpractice. For more information on your legal rights, please contact the office of Julie A. Rice in Atlanta, GA. We can provide more information on your legal options after reviewing the details of your case.


Cerebral Palsy and the Other Top Infant Birth Injuries

When you’ve experienced a seemingly normal pregnancy, it can be devastating to hear a health care provider use the words “cerebral palsy” in connection with your baby. However, you may be shocked to learn that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rank cerebral palsy as the most common childhood disability that affects motor skills. Unfortunately, this ailment and many others are caused by medical errors. An Atlanta, GA birth injuries lawyer can advise you on what to do if your baby has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or other top infant birth injuries.

  1. Cerebral Palsy: Damage to the motor control centers of the brain can lead to cerebral palsy, from prenatal stages up to age five. In a fetus or newborn, cerebral palsy is often caused by lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain. The specific effects vary from minor medical issues to complete dependence on others for care. There is no cure, but treatment and therapy can improve function for the affected individual. 
  1. Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL): This type of birth injury is often the result of oxygen deprivation during the delivery process, otherwise known as birth asphyxia. PVL results in softening of brain matter because of the effects upon cerebrospinal fluid. Though most common in premature births, it can affect fetuses of any prenatal stage, including infants at term. Many symptoms of PVL don’t manifest until the baby experiences developmental delays. However, there are some signs that are readily obvious, such as:
  • Motor skills issues;
  • Spasms in leg muscles;
  • Seizures; and,
  • Respiratory distress. 
  1. Erb’s Palsy: The brachial plexus is a series of nerves encompassing the cervical spine and extending into both arms of the fetus. Erb’s palsy is a medical condition that can result when this nerve network is damaged. Symptoms include weakness, loss of function, or complete paralysis of an infant’s arm on the affected side. Brachial plexus injuries usually occur during a complicated delivery, where a doctor exerts too much pressure on the neck and shoulders while guiding the infant down the birth canal. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health also report that improper use of birth assistive devices can lead to Erb’s palsy.
  1. Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): Another effect of insufficient oxygen to the fetus brain during birth, HIE is a form of brain damage that can result from both preventable and naturally occurring factors. Through meticulous monitoring, proper intervention – potentially including a decision regarding a C-section – HIE is an avoidable complication during delivery. Still, even when not preventable, this condition is treatable with quick action after birth. With proper care, it’s possible for delivery room staff to reduce the likelihood or extent of brain damage.

Contact an Atlanta Birth Injury Attorney About Your Rights

If your child sustained any of these birth injuries or was harmed by other medical errors, you’ll need experienced legal representation to protect your interests. To learn more about your options, please contact the office of Julie A. Rice. Our team can schedule a free appointment to discuss your claim at our offices in Atlanta, GA.


Injuries and/or Wrongful Death of the Mother

When you think of birth injuries, it’s common to assume that the infant was the victim. People tend to overlook that there are two individuals involved in the process, since the mother seems less vulnerable that a tiny fetus. However, she is also at risk of birth injury – at times due to medical mistakes by the providers treating her from prenatal stages through to labor, delivery, and aftercare. One of the most common risks for the mother is perineal tears, which affects around 85 percent of women according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Because of the potentially long-term effects and complications of perineal tears, it’s wise to consult with an Atlanta, GA birth injuries lawyer about your rights.

Types of Perineal Tears: Experts at the Mayo Clinic describe four degrees of perineal tears that may occur during delivery:

  • A first degree tear is the least serious the most common form of perineal tear. You may feel some minor pain or stinging, especially during urination. The wound will likely not require stitches, and will heal with at-home care within 2-3 weeks.
  • Second degree perineal tear could extend deeper into the vagina and usually require sutures. Recovery time is slightly longer, at times up to one month.
  • A third degree perineal tear is a deeper and longer wound, extending into the anus. A physician may decide to repair immediately after delivery, in an operating room while you’re under anesthesia. The pain and discomfort can last up to several months.
  • The most severe form of this birth injury is the fourth degree perineal tear that affects much of the anus and extends into the rectum. Again, immediate surgery is usually required to repair the wound. In some cases, more specialized care is necessary.

Complications Following Serious Perineal Tear Injuries: Beyond the obvious physical pain, which can be excruciating with third and fourth degree injuries, there can be short- and long-term complications. Incontinence, leakage, and painful intercourse are common. However, the consequences are much more serious and enduring when the perineal tear was caused by negligence. A health care provider may use excessive force during delivery, fail to properly use forceps or vacuum extractor, or cause injuries through a botched episiotomy.

In addition, an NIH publication notes that there can be psychological trauma from a perineal tear. The healing process can disrupt nursing, inhibiting the mother’s ability to form a bond with the newborn. Because of limitations on sexual activity, this type of injury can also affect her relationship with her partner.

Trust an Atlanta Birth Injury Lawyer to Protect Your Rights

Though it’s understandable that you want to focus on caring for your newborn, it’s also important to realize that your health and rights as a mother are crucial. As such, after you receive proper medical care for a perineal tear, you should consider reaching out to an experienced birth injury attorney. To learn more about your rights and remedies after a birth injury, please contact the Atlanta, GA office of Julie A. Rice to set up a free consultation.


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