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Birth Injuries

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Calgary Birth Injury Lawyers

Over the decades, childbirth has become a much safer endeavour than it has been in the past, and survival rates for both mother and baby have increased substantially. However, despite advances in medical care, injuries during birth still can and do occur, and are sometimes the result of negligence on the part of medical professionals present during labour and delivery.

There are various types of injuries that can occur at birth, including traumatic brain injuries or serious physical injuries. Such injuries often have life-long implications for the infant and/or the mother and can be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

At Cuming & Gillespie, our Calgary medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience in handling birth injury claims. We know that these serious injuries can impact people physically, psychologically, and financially and we provide compassionate and highly knowledgeable legal advice to parents dealing with such injuries. Over the past 20 years, we have won dozens of awards in Canada and around the world. We are consistently ranked as Leaders in Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice on Lexpert. With our representation, you can rest assured that your case is in the best hands.

Brain-Related Birth Injuries 

The most common injuries we see in birth injury medical malpractice claims are brain-related birth injuries. These injuries, in most cases, are a result of a deprivation of oxygen to the fetus during or right after labour and/or delivery. The medical terminology is Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), also known as birth asphyxia or perinatal asphyxia.

The severity of HIE varies. Mild HIE is likely to resolve itself within the first day of the child’s life. However, more severe cases of HIE may result in permanent brain damage, a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, or even death. The severity of the injury is dependent on two things:

  • The severity and length of time of the deprivation; and
  • The success of resuscitation measures following delivery.

Other brain injuries can result from direct physical trauma to the infant’s head, an infection in either the mother or infant or a stroke, all of which can be a result of medical error or negligence.

It is vital that doctors and medical professionals working in labour and delivery closely monitor both mother and baby to ensure there is no fetal distress. If there are signs of fetal distress, there are guidelines for what measures should be taken. Some measures can be taken while the fetus is still in utero; however, if the well-being of the fetus cannot be confirmed in such a way that the medical professionals are satisfied that there is no more fetal distress, an emergency cesarean-section will be required. In this case, it is necessary to take the steps to obtain informed consent from the mother and have operation and resuscitation teams ready. 

Physical Birth Injuries 

Physical injuries are more easily diagnosed than brain injuries. These include lacerations, fractures, or bruising. Some injuries at birth can result from negligence by a doctor or other medical professional, while others may just simply be an unfortunate outcome that would not have been avoided with proper care. 

A few common physical injuries that may occur during birth include: 

Shoulder Dystocia

This injury occurs in about 1% of all pregnancies and takes place when the infant’s shoulder becomes lodged against the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery and the shoulders fail to deliver shortly after the head. There is a risk of collarbone fracture and oxygen deprivation through compression of the umbilical cord as well as (brachial palsy).

Brachial Palsy 

This is an injury to the nervous system. Specifically, to the nerve group in the arms and hands called the brachial plexus. Such an injury is common when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulders through the birth canal. Typically, the injury is limited to bruising and swelling around the nerves, and the baby will likely regain movement. However, in more serious cases, there can be permanent nerve damage and permanent disability. Types of brachial palsy include:

  • Erb’s Palsy, where the nerves in the upper arm are affected and paralysis follows. Depending on the severity of the damage, the paralysis can either resolve on its own over a period of months with rehabilitative therapy, or surgery may be required. It affects between 1-2 babies per 1,000 births; and
  • Klumpke’s Palsy, where the damage is to the nerves in the lower part of the arm which affects the wrist, hands and fingers.

Medical Errors During Childbirth 

There are a number of ways in which a medical error during the birth and post-birth process can have devastating effects on an infant. Common examples of medical errors or medical negligence that result in birth injuries include:

  • Failing to recognize and respond to signs of fetal or maternal distress;
  • Failing to properly monitor the fetal heart rate;
  • Failing to recognize and respond to changes in fetal heart rate;
  • Failing to recognize or respond to signs of fetal or maternal infection;
  • Failing to administer proper intrauterine resuscitation measures;
  • Failing to proceed to or perform a C-section on a timely basis;
  • Improper use of tools such as forceps or vacuum to assist with delivery; and
  • Failing to ensure proper resuscitative efforts are undertaken.

Compassionate and Experienced Calgary Birth Injury Lawyers 

Anyone who has a child who has been diagnosed with a lifelong birth-related injury such as cerebral palsy knows that lifelong support will be necessary for their child. If your child has been diagnosed with such a condition and you believe this injury resulted from the negligence of the medical team who delivered your child, you may have a claim for damages.

The medical malpractice lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie have successfully resolved several significant birth injury claims and secured millions of dollars for the children and families affected by the negligence of the medical professionals involved. While money will never make things right for these families, it can ensure that the children affected have access to the best medical care and other necessary support throughout their life. These families placed their full trust in us, and we are proud to have handled their claims for them. We regularly provide legal advice and representation to those who have fallen victim to the negligence of medical professionals during what is supposed to be a joyous occasion: the birth of a child. 

We Can Help You with Our Compassion, Experience, And Expertise  

At Cuming & Gillespie we know what steps need to be taken for a successful birth injury malpractice claim. We will sit down with you, listen to your story, review your case, and evaluate whether there you may have a viable medical malpractice claim. We will consult with the best medical experts who will help us to fully investigate whether the medical professionals were negligent in their care for you and your child and whether that negligence caused your child’s injuries. Call us at 403-571-0555 or contact us online to book a free consultation today.