Arkansas Birth Injury Lawyers
Many Arkansas hospitals may be nationally ranked for their care of high-risk and premature infants. Even so, medical staff can make mistakes. These mistakes can translate into severe complications and lasting neurological issues for children. If you or a loved one experienced a birth injury in Arkansas, you may be able to obtain compensation for care, future medical expenses and other needs.
ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.) is one of the only law firms in the United States that exclusively takes birth injury cases. Our unique focus means that we have a thorough knowledge of the complex medical aspects of birth trauma cases. Our focus also allows us to work with leading experts, top medical specialists, and life-planning professionals through every step of a birth injury case. Partners Jesse Reiter and Rebecca Walsh are currently recognized as two of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report.
Arkansas birth injuries
Birth injury is very complex,with many different associated diagnoses. For example, a brain bleed (intracranial hemorrhage) might occur concurrently with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), resulting in cerebral palsy and developmental delays. The root cause of these diagnoses may be a medical error, such as a medical staff member failing to recognize the signs of a stalled labor. Because of these interrelated factors, having a lawyer who focuses exclusively on birth injury is very important. It is critical to discuss a potential case with an attorney as soon as possible due to the ‘statute of limitations,’ which limits how long a person has to file a case.
Some of the more common birth injuries (or mismanaged conditions that can lead to birth injuries) our attorneys have seen include:
- Cerebral palsy: This motor disorder can result in abnormal gait, muscle tightness, spasming and abnormal muscle movements. This disorder is due to brain damage and is not progressive (meaning that it does not worsen over time).
- Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): One of the most common birth injuries, HIE occurs when a baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen for too long, causing certain parts of the brain to be damaged. In some cases, babies are diagnosed immediately after birth, allowing them to get hypothermia therapy within 6 hours of birth to mitigate the risk of disability. In other cases, HIE goes undiagnosed until the child begins to miss developmental milestones.
- Traumatic Delivery: Difficult deliveries can result in birth trauma from the use of forceps or vacuum extractors, as well as from attempts to deliver a baby that is improperly positioned (face or breech presentation) or too large to fit through the mother’s pelvic opening (macrosomia and cephalopelvic disproportion/CPD). Medical practitioners should recognize signs that a birth may be traumatic and follow standards of care to avoid injury.
- Overusing Pitocin, Cytotec or anesthesia: Pitocin and Cytotec can cause uterine hyperstimulation, which makes the uterine muscles contract too fast and too strongly, causing oxygen deprivation. Incorrect anesthesia can cause a mother to develop blood pressure that is too low, which compromises blood flow to the baby.
- Face or breech presentation: Babies are usually delivered head-first. If a baby’s head is not tucked towards its chin, there is a significant risk of head trauma. If the baby is delivered feet-first, there is a high risk of the umbilical cord being delivered before the baby, which can cause cord compression and oxygen deprivation.
- Preeclampsia: When a mother develops high blood pressure during pregnancy along with protein in her urine, it may be a sign of preeclampsia, a disorder that can become severe very quickly, resulting in seizures in the mother and potential oxygen deprivation in the baby as blood flow through the placenta is restricted. Physicians must monitor patients with preeclampsia closely and schedule early delivery to prevent severe adverse health effects.
- Delayed emergency C-section: There are certain criteria for when an emergency C-section is needed. These include if labor fails to progress, if the baby cannot fit through the birth canal, and if the baby is showing signs of fetal distress (when the baby’s heart rate changes very suddenly). Emergency C-sections have to be done within a short time frame (usually less than 30 minutes, though in some cases less than 18 minutes, depending on severity). If the time ‘decision-to-incision’ is longer than standards of care indicate, medical practitioners are committing medical negligence.
- Placental abruption: Usually, the placenta stays fully attached until after the baby is born. In a placental abruption, the placenta detaches (partially or completely) before it is time. Early placental detachment means that the placenta can no longer supply oxygen to the baby. A mild abruption can turn severe very quickly, requiring close monitoring and potentially immediate delivery if the child is showing signs of fetal distress.
- Infections: If the mother has an infection like chorioamnionitis, villitis, bacterial vaginosis (BV), Group B Strep, herpes, or other viruses, medical staff must take certain measures to ensure that the infections will not be transmitted from mother to baby, because infections in a baby can become extremely serious very quickly, causing meningitis and inflammation of brain tissue. There are routine tests that medical staff should be conducting to ensure the mother is infection-free. Alternatively, if the mother has an infection that cannot be cleared in time for delivery, there should be discussion about alternate delivery methods that will decrease transmission risk.
- Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS): If a baby inhales its excrement during birth (which can occur if the baby is in distress), medical staff should take action to prevent sepsis and assist the baby in breathing if needed. Meconium aspiration can cause infections and sepsis, and also obstruct the baby’s airways, preventing it from supplying sufficient oxygen to its tissues.
- A baby that can’t fit through the pelvis (Macrosomia and CPD): If a baby is significantly larger than normal (macrosomia), the risk that the baby will not be able to fit through the mother’s pelvic bones increases. In cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD), the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvic size is mismatched, which mean that the baby can be too large to be born via vaginal delivery. Medical staff should be monitoring a fetus’ size as it gestates to track how much the baby is growing, and to develop a birthing plan with the mother that takes into account possible health risks.
- Severe bleeding: Traumatic birth can result from the use of assistive instruments, as well as repeated attempts at vaginal delivery when a baby is unable to fit through the birth canal. This can also occur if labor drugs are overused, resulting in contractions that continue when attempts at vaginal delivery have already failed. If a baby has a period of oxygen deprivation, this destabilizes the cell membranes in brain cells, making brain bleeds much more likely. Medical staff should be following standards of care in mitigating the risk of underlying health conditions and complications that can cause brain bleeds and resulting damage.
Contact ABC Law Centers today
The Arkansas birth injury attorneys at ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.) focus solely on birth injury cases, which means that we have a thorough knowledge of the complex medical content associated with birth injury cases, plus top-notch, award-winning medical, economic and forensics experts at our side. Contact us online with questions 24/7. We do not charge any fees for the entire legal process unless we win.
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