Going through labor can be a difficult experience, and one of your only hopes is that your doctors and nurses are fully prepared to respond to any situations that arise. You may trust that they have been properly trained, are following all procedures, and have a clear game plan if anything goes wrong. Unfortunately, not every medical team lives up to the high standards of their profession and their negligent actions often cause serious harm to a newborn, often leading to a birth injury that follows them for the rest of their life. For many parents, the most distressing and terrifying situation that they can go through is fetal distress.
Understanding Fetal Distress
Fetal distress is a very serious medical situation where a fetus is not receiving enough oxygen while within the womb, often occurring during a labor. Birth can be extremely difficult for some newborns, especially as doctors and nurses try to safely remove them from the womb. But when hospital staff do not follow proper procedures or are not careful during labor, a fetus can suffer a temporary loss in oxygen. Even if this only occurs for a few short seconds, the damage could be catastrophic.
A steady supply of oxygen is key for the brain to develop and, if that supply is caught off, certain parts of the brain can suffer cell death. This is especially important during labor, as a fetus can go through a large amount of stress as they try to take their first breath. If the brain is damaged within the womb, the newborn may have difficulties breathing outside of it. In addition, even if the child does survive, they must suffer from a serious disability for years to come. A traumatic brain injury caused by asphyxia, or a lack of oxygen, or even hypoxia, which is a drastic loss in oxygen, can lead to several serious health conditions like cerebral palsy.
What Causes Fetal Distress Injuries?
Hospitals and medical staff should be keenly aware of a pregnant woman and her fetus’s health as they near the delivery date. While fetal distress can occur naturally during childbirth, such as the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around the fetus’s neck, many situations are caused by negligent medical professionals.
Actions that contribute to fetal distress injuries include:
- Failure to check if the mother is anemic
- Failure to check if the mother has high blood pressure
- Failure to monitor amniotic fluid levels
- Failure to monitor fetal heart rate
- Misuse of epidurals and forceps
- Waiting too long for a delivery
If a medical professional caused your child’s birth injury due to an act of negligence, then you may be able to recover compensation in a medical malpractice claim. This can include compensation for any medical procedures your child needs in the future, as well as developmental, cognitive, and physical therapy to help them adjust to their disability. But first, you must demonstrate how the doctor or nurse committed negligence.
How to Prove Negligence in a Birth Injury Claim
Medical malpractice claims, and specifically birth injury claims, are based on the concept that a doctor or nurse committed actions that another professional would not have done in the same situation. Essentially, if you had the same type of birth at a different hospital or with different doctors, your child would not have been injured.
In order to prove that your doctor or nurse committed negligence, you should speak to an attorney. At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, our legal team has over 50 years of experience representing families who were victimized by negligent medical professionals and can thoroughly investigate your case. Due to our close relationships with other medical experts, we can reach out to other doctors to determine how a doctor should have responded in your case. If these experts determine that the doctors handling your case acted negligently or were reckless in their procedures, then you may be eligible to file a claim.
In addition, we can subpoena medical records and reports to support your case. It is possible that a doctor was aware that you were anemic or had hypertension prior to your birth but ignores it. This type of careless behavior would effectively show that the doctor acted negligently and contributed to your child’s injury.
However, each case is different, and the evidence you need to receive compensation can vary drastically from other situations. Your best option is to contact a New York birth injury attorney as soon as you can to discuss your case. At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, we offer every potential client a free consultation to go over the details of their case, review how their child’s injuries occurred, and discuss what is the best option for them. We would never pressure anyone to go into a claim if they are not comfortable with it and will also be transparent about the legal process. To discuss your case further, feel free to reach out to us at (212) 986-7353 and schedule an appointment.